Person Distributing Illegal DrugsWhile any drug offense charge is serious in the Commonwealth of Virginia, facing charges of manufacturing, distributing, or selling Schedule I and II controlled substances can result in some of the harshest penalties. This is true even if the crime involved only a small quantity of drugs. These are felony offenses, and, if you are convicted, the sentence can be decades or life in prison.

What Is a Controlled Substance?

Under Virginia Code § 54.1-3401, a controlled substance is defined as a drug, substance, or precursor in Schedules I through VI of the Drug Control Act. These schedules group controlled substances into six categories. A drug’s classification is determined by weighing the dangers against the medical uses or potential benefits.

Class I and II controlled substances are ones that are the most dangerous and least beneficial. Here are examples of drugs that fall into these classifications:

  • Class I. This classification is the most serious and includes drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit, such as heroin, ecstasy, molly, PCP, and Angel Dust.
  • Class II. These controlled substances also have a high risk of abuse, but may have restricted medical uses. They include cocaine, opium, oxycodone, and amphetamine.

What Is the Manufacture, Distribution, and Sale of a Controlled Substance in Virginia?

Virginia Code § 18.2-248 makes it a crime to manufacture, distribute, or sell controlled substances in our Commonwealth. Under Virginia Code § 54.1-3401, these activities are specifically defined to include:

  • Manufacture. The manufacture of a controlled substance includes its production, processing, packaging, and repackaging.
  • Distribute. Transferring a controlled substance without a lawful prescription, sharing a drug with a friend or family member, and attempted distribution all fall into the definition of illegal distribution under the Drug Control Act.
  • Sale. Selling a controlled substance can involve transferring it in exchange for money or for something else of value. It can also include gifting the drugs or making an offer to sell them to someone.

Penalties for the Manufacture, Distribution, or Sale of a Schedule I and II Controlled Substance

Sentencing for these offenses is complicated in Virginia and is based on a variety of factors, such as what type of controlled substance is involved, the person’s prior criminal record, and, in some cases, the amount of drug possessed. Here are potential sentences a person may face:

  • First offense. A person may be sentenced to 5 to 40 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000.
  • Second offense. The fine may be the same for a second offense, but the prison sentence range increases from five years to life, with a mandatory three-year minimum sentence.
  • Third or subsequent offense. A person can be sentenced to up to life in prison and fined up to $500,000. The mandatory minimum sentence is 10 years.

Manufacture, distribution, or sale of methamphetamine has its own set of penalties. They may include:

  • For 10 grams or more, up to life in prison with a five-year minimum sentence and a fine of up to $1 million
  • For 100 grams or more, up to life in prison with a 20-year minimum sentence and a fine of up to $1 million
  • Compensation for property damage
  • Cleanup expenses to the Commonwealth’s Methamphetamine Cleanup Fund if the person convicted was the property owner

The sale, manufacture, and distribution of other specific Class I and II controlled substances may result in enhanced penalties of five years to life in prison and a fine not to exceed $1 million. Here are some controlled substances that may result in increased penalties:

  • 100 or more grams of substances that have a detectable amount of heroin
  • 500 or more grams of substances that have a detectable amount of cocaine
  • 250 or more grams of substances that have a detectable amount of crack cocaine

If you have been arrested for these or other drug offenses in Fairfax or Northern Virginia, our experienced drug crime defense attorneys are here to help you present a strong defense so that you achieve the best possible outcome. Even if you are guilty, you may have strong defenses that enable you to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. However, you need a skilled lawyer to identify and raise them on your behalf. To learn more about how we can assist you, start an online chat or call our office to schedule a free consultation today.