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Drug possession and its penalties in Virginia

Virginians who are arrested for drug crimes can face a variety of penalties depending on the crime with which they are charged. With drug possession, the level of charges and their corresponding penalties will depend on the drug involved and if the accused individual had a prescription or not. Penalties for a conviction will depend on the violation.

The severity of a drug crime is often dependent upon the schedule of drug that is at the heart of a case. A Schedule I drug like LSD or heroin has a high potential to be abused and does not have a known medical benefit. Schedule II has a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe dependency, but does have a current medical use. Included in this category are cocaine, methamphetamine, PCP, and methadone. For possession of a Schedule I or II controlled substance, there can be incarceration for up to 10 years and/or a fine of $2,500.

Schedule III drugs have a lower risk of abuse than Schedule II drugs, but there is a chance for dependency. Possession of a Schedule III drug such as Codeine is a Class 1 misdemeanor penalized by 12 months of incarceration and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Schedule IV drugs like Valium and Zanax carry a lower risk of abuse than Schedule III drugs with limited chance of dependency. A conviction for possessing one of these drugs is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by six months of incarceration and/or, a fine of up to $1,000.

Schedule V drugs like cough medicine have a low chance of abuse and limited risk of dependency and have acceptable medical benefits. Improper possession of a Schedule V drug is a Class 3 misdemeanor. If convicted of this offense, an individual may face a fine of up to $500. Schedule VI drugs are actually not considered "drugs," but are used as such like items used in paint, aerosol cans, and other goods. Possession of a Schedule VI drug is a Class 4 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $250. Finally, possessing marijuana is a misdemeanor that carries penalties that can include 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. A second conviction for possession of marijuana will result in jail for up to one year, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.

With so much at stake when it comes to drug charges, those who are arrested for drug possession should consider contacting a legal professional experienced in helping clients dealing with drug charges, as strong criminal defense options may be available.

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