Drug trafficking is a very serious offense that is aggressively prosecuted in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If convicted, you may face decades in prison, a heavy fine, and a permanent criminal record. This can have long-term consequences on your employment, housing, education, right to vote, and other aspects of your life.
You cannot afford to take drug trafficking or other drug offense charges lightly. You need to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Fairfax.
Drug Trafficking Is Different Than Distribution, Manufacture, and Sale of Drugs
It is important to understand that being charged with drug trafficking is a separate crime from drug distribution, manufacture, and sale offenses. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-248, it is a crime to manufacture, sell, distribute, give, or possess a controlled substance or imitation controlled substance. These are felony offenses, and the class of felony that a person will be charged with will be based on the classification of the controlled substance. Schedule I controlled substances are considered the most dangerous drugs and include heroin, ecstasy, LSD, and marijuana. The penalties will depend on the crime but can range from 5 to 40 years in prison and a hefty fine.
What Is Drug Trafficking in Virginia?
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-248.01, it is a felony to transport, sell, or import certain controlled substances into Virginia from outside the state with the intent to sell or distribute them. A person does not need to have a large quantity of drugs in his possession to be charged with this crime. The drugs covered under this law include:
- One or more ounces of cocaine, its components, or derivatives
- One or more ounces of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances, which includes drugs like crystal meth, cocaine, morphine, PCP, and Ritalin
- Five or more pounds of marijuana
Penalties for Drug Trafficking If You Are Convicted
In Virginia, drug trafficking is an unclassified felony, and the penalties upon conviction are set forth in Virginia Code § 18.2-248.01. They include a possible mandatory minimum prison sentence. The sentence you may face will depend on your particular circumstances. However, the minimum punishments include:
- First offense. If this is your first offense, you may be sentenced to between 5 and 40 years in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of three years. The judge may also impose a fine not to exceed $1,000,000.
- Second or subsequent offense. For a second or subsequent conviction, the minimum prison sentence is 10 years. It must be served consecutively with any other sentence, such as for drug distribution or manufacture.
Your Property May Be Forfeited Due to Drug Trafficking in Virginia
Virginia law allows police officers to seize certain property and other assets associated with drug trafficking. Once taken, the police have the right to sell the property and distribute the proceeds to law enforcement agencies. Under Virginia Code § 19.2-386.22, the police can seize and sell the following:
- Medical equipment
- Office equipment
- Laboratory equipment
- Motor vehicles
- Personal property
- Real estate if the mandatory minimum sentence is at least five years
Contact Our Fairfax Office to Schedule Your Free Consultation Today
If you have been charged with drug trafficking in Virginia, you need the assistance of an experienced Fairfax drug crime attorney to avoid the loss of your freedom and other harsh consequences that may result if you are convicted. Even if you believe you committed the crime, you may have strong defenses to the charges you face. By raising them, you can significantly weaken the prosecutor’s case against you. This can result in the charges against you being dismissed or reduced to a much less serious offense.
At Greenspun Shapiro PC, we are dedicated to conducting a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the Commonwealth’s evidence against you so that we can present the strongest defense possible. We are not afraid to take your case to trial if this is in your best interests. We represent individuals charged with drug crimes and other crimes in Fairfax and throughout Northern Virginia. Call our Fairfax office or start an online chat today to schedule your free initial consultation with our experienced criminal defense attorneys.