I was arrested for selling drugs near a school. What is this offense and what penalties might I face?

School Traffic Sign by an Elementary School It is illegal to sell, manufacture, or distribute controlled substances near a school ground or other designated properties in Virginia. This is a separate felony offense from the crime of selling, manufacturing, or distributing drugs, and you may face harsh penalties if convicted.

What Is the Crime of Manufacturing, Distributing, or Selling Drugs Near a School?

Virginia Code § 18.2-255.2 makes it a felony crime to sell, manufacture, or distribute controlled substances, imitation drugs, or marijuana on or near certain properties. These properties include:

  • Grounds or buildings of a private or public elementary or secondary education school, institute of higher learning, or licensed day care center, or within 1,000 feet of these grounds or buildings
     
  • On a school bus, at a school bus stop, or within 1,000 feet of a bus stop when children are waiting to be picked up or dropped off from a school or a school-related activity
     
  • On or withing 1,000 feet of the property or grounds of a state facility 

If convicted, you may face these penalties:

  • First offense. There is a sentence of one to five years imprisonment, and a fine of up to $100,000.
     
  • Second or subsequent offense. If you are convicted of a second or subsequent offense that involves a Schedule I, II, or III controlled substance or more than one-half ounce of marijuana, there is a mandatory minimum one-year prison sentence that must be served consecutively with other sentences.

It may be possible to get the charges reduced to a Class 1 misdemeanor if you can show that you sold the drugs or marijuana only to accommodate another individual and with no intent to receive a profit or to get the recipient addicted. The punishment can include up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.

If you are facing drug charges in Fairfax or Northern Virginia, our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you build a strong defense so that you may avoid the harsh penalties you face. Start an online chat to schedule a free initial consultation to learn more about your options.