Drug Charges Attorney in Lynchburg & Forest, Virginia
If you’ve been accused of violating one of Virginia’s many drug laws, you’re certainly not alone. Drug crimes are now the most common felony charge in Virginia.
From drug traffickers to high school students to stay at home moms, the Commonwealth of Virginia doesn’t discriminate on who gets charged and convicted of a drug crime, and the penalties can be harsh. If convicted, you are likely looking at a mandatory license suspension as well as potential fines, jail time, and probation. And a conviction in Virginia remains on your criminal record indefinitely.
Despite these severe consequences, many defendants approach drug crime cases unprepared and uninformed. If you’ve been arrested for a drug crime in Virginia, this is a serious matter, and we highly recommend that you secure the strongest legal representation possible.
The Straw Law Firm has many years of experience successfully handling these types of cases, and one of our missions is to provide every client with the strong personalized representation they deserve. In a drug crimes case, this means you get a vigorous defense and have your rights protected at every turn. If you find yourself in this situation, contact us right away to schedule an initial consultation.
Penalties for Drug Crimes in Virginia
The penalties for drug crimes in the state are set the by Virginia Code and vary depending on the amount seized and the type of drug. Higher penalties apply to drugs that are lower on the schedule.
- Schedule I – Heroin, LSD, Ecstasy (MDMA), GHB
- Schedule II – PCP, Methamphetamine, methadone, morphine, Ritalin, cocaine
- Schedule III – Hydrocodone, anabolic steroids, ketamine, codeine
- Schedule IV – Certain prescription drugs obtained without a prescription
- Schedule V – Illegally-obtained codeine-based cough medicine
If you are charged with simple possession of drugs, the potential penalties will be:
- Schedule I or II – Class 5 felony with a sentence of one to 10 years in prison
- Schedule III – Class 1 misdemeanor with penalties of fines up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail
- Schedule IV – Class 1 misdemeanor with penalties of fines up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail
- Schedule V – Class 5 misdemeanor with penalties of fines up to $250
The penalties will escalate if the amount of the drug seized is enough to imply distribution or trafficking. While possession is the most common drug charge in Virginia, other charges that we defend clients against include:
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Prescribing/dispensing illegally
- Drug manufacture
- Intent to distribute
- Drug trafficking
- Refusal to submit to chemical testing
- Possession of a firearm while under the influence of drugs
Differences Between State and Federal Drug Crimes
Virginia drug charges are serious enough, but federal drug charges are also a possibility depending on the nature of the crime and who was involved. When you’ve been accused of a crime, the important distinction is whether you are accused of violating state law, federal law, or both.
When you are facing state charges, your case will be heard in the state court system. If the crime is a federal offense, it will go through the federal court system somewhere in Virginia. The most important thing to understand is that Federal drug crimes often have harsher penalties. This is particularly the case if you have prior convictions.
Some of the most common reasons that you might face federal charges are that the crime took place on federal property, the activity crossed state or national borders, the activity involved a federal employee, or a federal agency (DEA, FBI, etc.) was involved in investigating the case.
Whether you are facing state or federal drug charges, our experienced Virginia drug crimes attorneys will take your matter seriously and provide you with the most thorough and effective defense possible.
Marijuana Crimes in Virginia
Even though public opinion on the issue has shifted, marijuana remains an illegal substance in Virginia. A first offense possession of marijuana conviction carries with it fines of up to $500 and as much as 30 days in jail. Subsequent charges are treated as Class 1 misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. In addition to these penalties, there is a mandatory six-month driver’s license suspension for any marijuana conviction in Virginia.
The exception to this rule is regarding medical marijuana. If you were in possession of marijuana which you obtained directly from a physician in the course of their practice or through a valid prescription, this is lawful in Virginia.
Virginia’s Drug Diversion Program
While Virginia has a drug diversion program for first-time offenders, called the 251 Program, this is no walk in the park, and it has its downsides. On the plus side, your first offense drug possession charge will be dismissed if you complete the terms of the program.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a normal “dismissal” and can still be viewed by some employers, schools, and government agencies as a conviction because the program requires that you admit guilt. The terms of the program are also strict, and it’s not something we recommend if you are not guilty of the charges or would not be able to adhere to the program’s requirements.
How an Experienced Virginia Drug Crimes Attorney Can Help
At The Straw Law Firm, our goal is to achieve the best possible disposition of your case. This might be achieved through challenges to the charges or the procedures used during the arrest. If the police violated your Constitutional rights during the arrest, the case could be challenged on procedural grounds. Some examples include:
- Traffic stops made without probable cause
- Performing a “stop and frisk” without probable cause
- Searching a residence or vehicle without probable cause or a warrant
If we are unable to get the charges reduced or dropped, there is always the option of taking your case to trial to fight for the justice you deserve. While we can never guarantee an outcome in a criminal case, our number one goal is to aggressively defend the rights and freedom of every client.
No matter what your drug crime charge involves, contact our Lynchburg area office today at (434) 448-2690 to schedule your initial consultation so we can discuss your legal options.