Drug Sales in Virginia

Selling a controlled substance is a serious offense in Virginia. Unfortunately, many people get charged with possession with intent to sell for only selling a small amount, agreeing to help a friend out, or simply being found with a larger amount of drugs.

The amount of the substance involved and specific drug can make a substantial difference in the criminal penalties for Virginia drug charges. You may be able to challenge the evidence in your drug case to get the charges dropped or dismissed. If you were arrested for possession with intent to distribute in Virginia, contact me today for a free consultation.

Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute 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.”

The prosecutor in a possession with intent to distribute (PWID) case can use a variety of methods to try and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to distribute or sell the drugs. This can be done through

  • Showing evidence of an actual sale;
  • Agreement to sell/buy drugs;
  • Quantity of drugs;
  • Possession of drugs with large sums of cash;
  • Possession of drugs with scales, small baggies, or other evidence; or
  • A confession.

Drug Classification in Virginia

The classification of the drugs involved will determine the drug charge and penalties. Drugs in Virginia are classified as Schedule I to Schedule VI. Generally, Schedule I drugs have a higher risk for abuse and no accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S. Drug classification in Virginia include some of the following substances.

  1. Schedule I controlled substances in Virginia: heroin, psilocybin, LSD, and ecstasy.
  2. Schedule II controlled substances in Virginia: cocaine, opium, morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, and codeine.
  3. Schedule III controlled substances in Virginia: anabolic steroids.
  4. Schedule IV controlled substances in Virginia: alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), or diazepam (Valium).
  5. Schedule V controlled substances in Virginia: medications or drugs with lower amounts of codeine, like prescription cough medicines.  
  6. Schedule VI controlled substances in Virginia: other drugs that do not fall into Schedule 1-5 categories.

Penalties for Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute in Virginia  

The penalties for drug possession with intent to distribute depends on the drug involved, the amount involved, individual's criminal history, the location of drug sales, and other factors. Drug possession can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in Virginia. In most cases, a first-time possession charge is eligible for a 251 program or first-time offender drug program.

Possession with intent to distribute a Schedule I or Schedule II drug is a felony, with penalties including 5 to 40 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000. A second offense can include five years to life imprisonment and a third or subsequent offense can include 10 years to life imprisonment.

There may be different penalties for specific drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine, or heroin compounds or mixtures. There are also enhanced penalties for sale or distribution on or near certain properties, including schools, child care centers, state facilities, or even at a school bus stop.

Marijuana Distribution

Marijuana is treated differently under Virginia law. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-248.1, it is unlawful for any person to sell, give, distribute, or possess marijuana with the intent to distribute. The penalties are based on the amount of marijuana involved, as follows: 

Amount of Marijuana

Criminal Charge

Not more than ½ ounce

Class 1 misdemeanor

More than ½ ounce but not more than 5 pounds

Class 5 felony


More than 5 pounds

Felony, punishable by 5 to 30 years imprisonment

There may be different charges or penalties based on where the individual distributed marijuana and prior criminal history.

Drug Sale Legal Defenses

Talk to your Virginia criminal defense attorney about legal defenses available in your case. Just because the prosecutor treats you like you are guilty does not mean you have to accept a plea deal. Possible criminal defenses may include:

  • Unlawful search and seizure,
  • Police misconduct,
  • Misidentification of the substance,
  • Challenging the amount of the substance, or
  • Another person was in possession.

If you have been accused of drug possession with the intent to distribute in Charlottesville, contact me today for a free consultation. 

VSB Disclaimer

Attorney Advertising. Every legal matter is different. The outcome of every case depends on numerous factors, and no attorney can guarantee a positive result in any given case.

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