Criminal Defense for Your Virginia Drug Charges
If you have been charged with a drug offense you are not alone, they are one of the most common criminal charges judges see come in and out of their courtroom. That being said they are also one of the most legally complex charges criminal defense attorneys face. Many involve unlawful arrests, searches, seizures and are motivated by racial bias.
Chludzinski & Mitchell's Virginia defense attorneys represent clients facing a multitude of drug and narcotics charges. C&M Law has years of experience fighting everything from cross country multimillion dollar RICO drug trafficking cases, to simple possession of a controlled substance. We are invested in providing our clients with the best defense possible. Book a consultation today to discuss your case
Drug Crimes in Virginia
Crimes involving drug possession are covered by Virginia Code Section 18.2-250. This code makes it illegal to possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription from a medical practitioner. The charge and associated penalties will vary depending on the type of drug found in your possession, the Schedule of drug it falls under, as well as its quantity:
Schedule I or II – Class 5 felony
Schedule III – Class 1 misdemeanor
Schedule IV – Class 2 misdemeanor
Schedule V – Class 3 misdemeanor
Schedule VI – Class 4 misdemeanor
The penalties for each are found in Virginia Code Sections 18.2-10 and 18.2-11. A Class 5 felony is punishable by 1 to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine up to $2,500. A Class 2 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000. A Class 3 misdemeanor is punishable by a fine up to $500, and a Class 4 misdemeanor is punishable by a fine up to $250.
Drug Schedules and Their Regulations
So what is a controlled substance and how do you know what schedule of drug yours falls into? The federal government defines a controlled substance as any of the substances listed in the schedules of the Controlled Substances Act , Title 21 of the United States Code (USC). There are five different schedules of drugs which are categorized based on their addictive potential and if the substance has been determined by the federal government to have any medicinal use.
- Schedule I – Substances falling under this category have been found by the federal government to have no accepted medical use. They have been determined unsafe, and possess a high potential for abuse, and are not available for use even with a prescription.
- Examples include: heroin, LSD, peyote, ecstasy, and even marijuana.
- Schedule II – Substances falling under this category have been found by the federal government to have accepted medical uses, although a high potential for abuse. They have been determined safe by only under the strict supervision of a licensed professional. Studies have shown that the use of these substances can result in severe psychological and physical dependence, and as such they are strictly controlled.
- There are special restrictions for filling and refilling Schedule II prescriptions. First, they require a written prescription signed by your health care provider—they cannot be sent electronically to your pharmacy. There are also no refills allowed on Schedule II prescriptions; you must get a new prescription each time from your doctor.
- Examples include: hydrocodone, Dilaudid, Demerol, OxyContin, Percocet, morphine, opium, methadone, codeine, Adderall, and methamphetamine.
- Schedule III – Substances falling under this category have been found by the federal government to have accepted medical uses and a lower potential for abuse. However, studies how shown that the use of these substances can still result in high psychological dependence and moderate to low physical dependence, and as such still require the supervision of a licensed physician.
- Schedule III medications may be refilled if your doctor has authorized it on the prescription.
- Examples include: Suboxone, ketamine, and anabolic steroids, and Tylenol with Codeine.
- Schedule IV – Substances falling under this category have been found by the federal government to have accepted medical uses, and a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs.
- Refill restrictions for Schedule IV are the same as for Schedule III.
- Examples include: Xanax, Soma, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, Tranxene, Versed, Halcion) and Restoril.
- Schedule V – Substances falling under this category have been found by the federal government to have accepted medical uses, and a low potential for abuse relative to substances listed in Schedule IV. They consist primarily of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics.
- There are no special restrictions on refills for Schedule V prescriptions.
- Examples include: cough preparations containing not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams, such as Robitussin AC, Phenergan with codeine, and other cough medicines with codeine.
Technically, it's illegal to possess any one of the drugs listed in the schedules above without a valid prescription. Accordingly, if you are properly prescribed and lawfully purchased one of the substances, you have not violated the law and you are exempt from prosecution.
However, note that marijuana falls under Schedule I, and under Federal Law Schedule I drugs are not available for use even with a prescription. Accordingly, even if the state you live in has made marijuana legal and prescribed you the drug you can still be prosecuted in federal court for possession of it.