Distributing, manufacturing drugs or cultivating drugs is a serious offense in Virginia. Distribution of drugs and possession with the intent to distribute drugs is a felony offense for cases involving many schedule 1 or 2 substances, the penalties for which may include mandatory jail time, and serious fines. However, there may be a number of possible defenses to have the charges reduced or dropped entirely.
When someone is arrested with tools and materials to grow, manufacture, or where he distributed a controlled substance, that person will likely be facing felony drug charges. Possession of drugs for personal use may have lesser penalties, including the option for drug court. However, drug distribution is a more serious charge that generally requires a strong defense to avoid possible jail time, depending on the charge. If you were arrested for drug charges in Virginia, contact me today for a free consultation.
Drug Distribution in Virginia
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-248, “it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, give, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture, sell, give or distribute a controlled substance or an imitation controlled substance.”
Penalties for drug distribution depend, in part, on the substance involved. However, even distributing an imitation controlled substance is a criminal offense. Penalties are also based on the amount of drugs involved. Generally, possession of larger amounts of drugs results in higher penalties.
Distribution of the following amounts of a controlled substance is a felony, punishable by up to $1 million in fines and imprisonment of five years to life:
- 100 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin;
- 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of:
- Coca leaves, except coca leaves and extracts of coca leaves from which cocaine, ecgonine, and derivatives of ecgonine or their salts have been removed;
- Cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers;
- Ecgonine, its derivatives, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers; or
- Any compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any quantity of any of the above; or
- 250 grams or more of a mixture or substance above that contain cocaine base; or
- 10 grams or more of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers or 20 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers.
The penalties for drug manufacturing include a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. However, the mandatory minimum may be avoided if the court finds that the defendant:
- Does not have a prior drug conviction;
- Did not use violence or threats or possess a dangerous weapon in connection with the offense;
- Was not an organizer or leader of others in the offense and not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise; and
- Provided truthful information and evidence concerning the offense.
Distributing larger amounts of a controlled substance carries harsher penalties. Distribution of the following quantities can be punishable by a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison (up to life imprisonment):
- 1.0 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin;
- 5.0 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, its salts, isomers, and derivatives (or 2.5 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance which contains cocaine base); or
- 100 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana.
Manufacturing methamphetamines can result in a longer minimum prison sentence. Any person who manufactures methamphetamines, its salts, or isomers, shall be imprisoned for not less than 10 years (up to 40 years) and fined up to $500,000. A second conviction results in a minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, up to a life sentence. A third or subsequent conviction carries life imprisonment.
Manufacturing 100 grams or more is punishable by a minimum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, up to life in prison. Manufacturing methamphetamines may also result in paying restitution to a property owner whose property is damaged or destroyed as a result of methamphetamine production.
Marijuana Cultivation in Virginia
Marijuana is still illegal in Virginia to possess or cultivate. Even though much of the country has moved towards decriminalizing marijuana use for medical or recreational use, growing marijuana in Virginia can result in serious criminal penalties. The prosecutor may attempt to use the entire plant product to show the quantity of marijuana was over a certain amount, even if it includes plants and plant parts that are not consumable. Talk to your attorney about defenses available for marijuana cultivation charges.
Drug Distribution Legal Defenses
Your Virginia criminal defense attorney will be able to investigate your case and identify the best legal defenses available. The prosecutor may try and make it seem like you have no other option but to plead guilty. Before accepting any plea deal, talk to your lawyer about your options. Possible legal defenses may include:
- Unlawful search and seizure,
- Police misconduct,
- Challenging the identification of the substance, or
- Challenging the amount of the controlled substance.
If you have been accused of drug manufacturing or marijuana cultivation in Charlottesville, contact me today for a free consultation.