Noorishad Law, P.C. defends clients against a wide range of drug charges including, but not limited to:
Your right to drive a motor vehicle may be at risk
In addition to any other sanction or penalty imposed for drug offense, if you are convicted of a drug offense, then the conviction of such offense shall deprive the person convicted of the privilege to drive or operate a motor vehicle, engine, or train in the Commonwealth for a period of six months from the date of such judgment or placement on probation.
The judge generally does not have the authority to prevent your license to drive from being suspended. In order to maintain your driver's license, your attorney should generally try negotiating a deal with the prosecutor; however, it is important to note that each case is different and results will vary depending on the particular facts of your case.
Virginia Drug Possession Offenses and Penalties Chart
Possession of marijuana is specifically prohibited pursuant to Virginia Code § 18.2-250.1. In order to be convicted of simple possession of a controlled substance, the Commonwealth must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you were: (1) aware of the presence and character of the controlled substance and that you consciously possessed the controlled substance. The term "possession" is a legal term that is distinguishable from being in close proximity to the controlled substance or owning/occupying the area where the controlled substance is found.
A first offense penalty for possession is a misdemeanor conviction with up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. A second or beyond conviction is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with up to 1 year in jail and a maximum $2,500.00 fine.
Possession with Intent to Distribute ("PWID")
Virginia criminalizes the sale, gift, distribution and possession with intent to sell, give or distribute marijuana in Virginia Va Code § 18.2-248.1. The most commonly charged crime is “Possession with Intent to Distribute.”
Virginia courts have considered a number of factors alone and in combination when determining if an intent to distribute exists:
- Quantity – if the quantity of drugs possessed is greater than that ordinarily possessed for personal use, that fact alone may be sufficient to prove intent; however, where the quantity is small, the fact finder may infer the drugs were intended for personal use. There is no specific limit on quantity which divides simple possession and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Technically, if you pass a joint to the person sitting next to you, you can be charged with distribution of marijuana.
- Packaging – cocaine that was packaged into two separately wrapped blocks in a single plastic bag has supported a finding of distribution.
- Testimony from the police officer or other expert – The police officer, or another expert's testimony, is a factor that the Court may consider in determining whether drugs were possessed with intent to distribute.
- A large amount of money – the presence of an unusually large amount of money, suggesting profit from sales, is another circumstance that supports an inference of the person's intent to distribute a controlled substance.
- Paraphernalia consistent with distribution – the presence of paraphernalia such as scales, baggie corners, or razor blades used in the packaging process supports an inference of the person's intent to distribute a controlled substance.
- Absence of drug paraphernalia for personal use – the absence of drug “paraphernalia suggestive of personal use” is another consideration in supporting an intent to distribute.
Penalties under this section depend on the quantity and substance in a particular case. For example, a violation of PWID marijuana with one-half ounce of marijuana or less is a Class 1 misdemeanor – punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500.00 fine. Violation with more than one-half ounce but less than five pounds of marijuana is a Class 5 felony – punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Violation with more than five pounds of marijuana is a felony punishable by a prison sentence between 5 and 30 years in duration.
Prescription Drug & Medicine Fraud & Forgery
Virginia Code § 18.2-258.1 codifies the offense of obtaining drugs or procuring the administration of controlled substances by fraud, lying or forgery. For example, individuals that forge prescriptions for a controlled substance are committing a class 6 felony. Related crimes include: increasing the number of refills for a given prescription, prescription pad theft, possessing fraudulent prescriptions, possessing prescription medicine not prescribed to you by a doctor, calling a pharmacy to order fake prescriptions, and using computers to facilitate any of the above offenses.
Conspiracy to Commit a Drug Offense
Conspiracy to commit a drug offense is codified under Virginia Code § 18.2-256 and is punished the same as the crime that was intended during the conspiracy. Conspiracy in Virginia is defined as an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime followed by some act by the conspirators that shows this agreement was made.
Attempt to Commit a Drug Offense
The attempt to commit a drug crime is codified under Virginia Code § 18.2-257 and is generally defined as making a direct step towards committing the crime, while intending to commit that crime. Intent is defined as a conscious purpose. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had both the intent to commit the crime and the direct step towards that crime in order for you to be convicted of attempt to commit the drug offense.
In Virginia, attempt is punished as a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punished by up to 6 months in jail. An attempt to commit a felony drug crime is punished by up to 10 years in prison, which is the same maximum penalty as the actual, or completed, drug crime.
Drug paraphernalia is generally punished as a misdemeanor, with a few felony exceptions. Advertising drug paraphernalia is punished under Virginia Code § 18.2-265.5 as a Class 1 misdemeanor with up to 12 months in jail. Distributing drug paraphernalia to a minor is also punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor with up to 12 months in jail. Sale, possession with intent to sell, etc. minor is also punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor with up to 12 months in jail. However, distributing drug paraphernalia to a minor who is at least 3 years your junior is a Class 6 felony punished by up to 5 years in prison.
Pursuant to Virginia Code § 18.2-265.1, “Drug Paraphernalia” is defined as: all equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are either designed for use or which are intended by the person charged with violating § 18.2-265.3 for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, strength testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body marijuana or a controlled substance. It includes, but is not limited to: kits, isomerization devices, testing equipment, scales and balances, diluents and adulterants (such as quinine hydrochloride, mannitol, or mannite), separation gins and sifters, Blenders, bowls, containers, spoons, mixing devices, capsules, balloons, envelopes, pipes, bongs, syringes, needles, punctured metal bowls, tubes, etc.
Virginia Code § 18.2-265.2 outlines several factors and evidence to be considered by the judge/jury in determining whether an object is drug paraphernalia, including:
- Constitutionally admissible statements by the accused concerning the use of the object;
- The proximity of the object to marijuana or controlled substances, which proximity is actually known to the accused;
- Instructions, oral or written, provided with the object concerning its use;
- Descriptive materials accompanying the object which explain or depict its use;
- National and local advertising within the actual knowledge of the accused concerning its use;
- The manner in which the object is displayed for sale;
- Whether the accused is a legitimate supplier of like or related items to the community, such as a licensed distributor or dealer of tobacco products;
- Evidence of the ratio of sales of the objects defined in § 18.2-265.1 to the total sales of the business enterprise;
- The existence and scope of legitimate uses for the object in the community;
- Expert testimony concerning its use or the purpose for which it was designed;
- Relevant evidence of the intent of the accused to deliver it to persons who he knows, or should reasonably know, intend to use the object with an illegal drug. The innocence of an owner, or of anyone in control of the object, as to a direct violation of this article shall not prevent a finding that the object is intended for use or designed for use as drug paraphernalia.
What if I am charged with a Drug Offense?
If you or someone you know in the Northern Virginia Area has been charged with a drug-related crime and needs the representation or legal advice of an experienced lawyer, call Noorishad Law, P.C. today at 703-542-4500, or complete the "schedule an appointment" form to meet with Mr. Noorishad to discuss your particular case.