Drug Crime Attorney in Virginia

Virginia’s drug laws are complex. The severity of the crime and potential consequences of a conviction depend on the type of drug and quantity involved.

If you are convicted of a drug offense, it may carry major penalties in addition to the long-term consequences of having a criminal record.

If you have been arrested, you need an experienced Virginia drug crime lawyer on your side. Attorney Samantha Upton will help you understand what you are facing and your options. She will work tirelessly to protect your rights and your freedom, fighting for the best possible outcome in your case.

Contact Upton Law, PLLC today for a free, no-obligation case review with Virginia drug crime attorney Samantha Upton. Samantha will give you an honest, straightforward assessment of your case and explain your options for pursuing a favorable outcome.

Why You Need a Virginia Drug Crime Lawyer

The criminal justice system in Virginia can move quickly. When you are arrested for and charged with a drug crime, you need a drug crime attorney who can:

  • Review the details of your case to explore potential factual and legal defenses to your charge
  • Help you understand the possible and likely outcomes of your case and the potential consequences you may face in the event of a conviction
  • Challenge the evidence against you and pursue all available options for getting your charge reduced or dismissed
  • Assist you with exploring alternative dispositions for your charge
  • Advocate on your behalf in court and at trial

Types of Drug Crime Cases

Examples of drug crimes under Virginia law include:

  • Drug possession, including simple possession of drugs intended for personal consumption
  • Drug distribution, including selling and trafficking of drugs
  • Possession with intent to distribute, including possession of large quantities of drugs or possession of drugs packaged for individual sale, or possession of drugs in conjunction with packaging and distribution equipment (such as baggies and scales)
  • Conspiracy to distribute narcotics or working with others to transport and sell drugs

Types of Drugs

Controlled substances that are frequently involved in drug crime cases in Virginia include:

  • Methamphetamine
  • PCP
  • Prescription drugs, including Oxycodone, Xanax, Vicodin, and Valium


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Felony vs. Misdemeanor Drug Crimes

Whether a drug crime is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on what type of drug is involved and whether the drug is for personal use or for trafficking or sale.

Simple possession of Schedule I or Schedule II drugs, which include drugs with a high risk of addiction and few or no accepted medical uses, is charged as a Class 5 felony. Possession of other types of drugs is charged as a misdemeanor. These misdemeanors range from a Class 1 misdemeanor for possession of a Schedule III controlled substance to a Class 4 misdemeanor for possession of a Schedule VI drug.

Distribution of drugs or possession with intent to distribute is normally charged as a felony when the crime includes Schedule I or Schedule II drugs or large quantities of marijuana. Otherwise, distribution of other schedules of controlled substances is normally charged as a misdemeanor.

Common Defenses to Drug Charges

If you are charged with a drug crime in Richmond or elsewhere in Virginia, you may have certain factual and legal defenses available to you, such as:

  • Challenging the legality of law enforcement’s search and seizure of the drugs, including challenging the lawfulness of a traffic stop or arguing that police searched your person, vehicle, or home without a warrant when one should have been obtained
  • Pointing out a lack of proper laboratory testing that would have confirmed that a substance was a controlled substance
  • Contesting the quantity of drugs found, which may help reduce the severity of the charge
  • Challenging whether drugs were intended for distribution or sale, which can help reduce a charge to a less severe simple possession charge
  • Proving that you had a valid prescription for prescription drugs in your possession
  • Challenging whether you had constructive possession of drugs found in your vehicle or your home, including by showing that you had no knowledge of the drugs or the ability to exercise control over them

Drug Charges – expansion of Good Samaritan Law

HB 1821: Arrest and prosecution when experiencing or reporting overdoses. Prohibits the arrest or prosecution of an individual for the unlawful purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, intoxication in public, or possession of controlled paraphernalia if (i) such individual, in good faith, renders emergency care or assistance, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or the administration of naloxone or other opioid antagonist for overdose reversal, to an individual experiencing an overdose while another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention; (ii) such individual remains at the scene of the overdose or at any location to which he or the individual requiring emergency medical attention has been transported; (iii) such individual identifies himself to the law-enforcement officer who responds; and (iv) the evidence for a prosecution of one of the enumerated offenses would have been obtained only as a result of the individual’s rendering emergency care or assistance.

Current law prohibits arrest or prosecution for such offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him.

Marijuana Legalization

HB 2312: Marijuana; legalization; retail sales; penalties. Eliminates criminal penalties for simple possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older, modifies several other criminal penalties related to marijuana, and imposes limits on dissemination of criminal history record information related to certain marijuana offenses. The bill creates the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority (the Authority), the Cannabis Oversight Commission, the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council, the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board and Fund, and the Virginia Cannabis Equity Business Loan Program and Fund and establishes a regulatory and licensing structure for the cultivation, manufacture, wholesale, and retail sale of retail marijuana and retail marijuana products, to be administered by the Authority. The bill contains social equity provisions that, among other things, provide support and resources to persons and communities that have been historically and disproportionately affected by drug enforcement.

The bill has staggered effective dates, and numerous provisions of the bill are subject to reenactment by the 2022 Session of the General Assembly.
Also see, the state cannabis website for more information.


Penalties for Drug Crime Convictions

The possible penalties for a drug crime conviction depend on the severity of the offense. Penalties can include:

  • Possession of Schedule I or II drugs – Confinement in jail for up to 12 months or a prison sentence of one to 10 years, and a potential fine of up to $2,500.
  • Possession of Schedule III drugs – Possible jail term of up to 12 months and a potential fine of up to $2,500.
  • Possession of Schedule IV drugs – Potential jail term of up to six months, and possible fine of up to $1,000.
  • Possession of Schedule V drugs – Fine of up to $500.
  • Possession of Schedule VI drugs – Fine of up to $250.
  • Possession of Schedule I or II controlled substances with intent to distribute – Imprisonment for five to 40 years and a possible fine of up to $500,000. A second or subsequent conviction can carry a minimum five-year prison sentence and open up the possibility of a life sentence.
  • Possession of Schedule III through V controlled substances with intent to distribute – Potential jail term of up to one year, and a possible fine of up to $2,500.
  • Possession of over one-half ounce to five pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute – Prison sentence of one to 10 years, or a jail term of up to 12 months, along with a possible fine of up to $2,500.
  • Possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana with intent to distribute – Possible jail sentence of up to one year, and a potential fine of up to $2,500.

In addition to fines and a jail or prison sentence, a drug crime conviction can have other long-lasting consequences on your life. This includes rendering you ineligible for certain government benefits or programs or making it difficult to secure employment, housing, or educational opportunities due to a criminal record.

Talk to a Virginia Drug Crime Attorney Today

If you have been charged with a drug-related offense in Virginia, you may be facing serious consequences in the event of a conviction. Don’t leave your freedom and future to chance. Contact Upton Law, PLLC today for a free and confidential consultation. You can speak with experienced Virginia drug crime attorney Samantha Upton about your rights and a strategic defense against the charges you face.

When you work with Upton Law, PLLC, you will also get the financial certainty of being quoted a flat fee at the outset. You won’t have to worry about running up charges every time you talk to your attorney or if your case requires more legal work than initially expected. Get started today.

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