Possession with Intent to Distribute: What It Means in Virginia

possession with intent to distribute in Virginia

Possession with Intent to Distribute: What It Means in Virginia

Possession with intent to distribute is charged when someone is found in possession of controlled dangerous substances and it is believed that their intention is to either sell them or give them to someone else. Virginia takes drug possession seriously but distribution is harshly punished.

Virginia Code Section 18.2- 248 criminalizes the possession of a controlled substance as well as possession with intent to distribute, sell, give or manufacture a controlled substance or an imitation controlled substance.

How Intent to Distribute is Determined

There are a number of factors used to determine if an individual in possession of drugs intends to distribute them. These include:

1. Quantity of the Controlled substance

The amount of substance you were caught in possession of can be used to prove that you were not going to use them for personal use but to distribute or sell them. Possessing a large amount of controlled substance has a rebuttable presumption that you intend to distribute the drug. This is an exception only if the drugs are in a small enough quantity for personal use.

2. A large amount of money

Being found in the possession of controlled substances and large sums of money are used as evidence enough that distribution might have occurred. An unusual amount of money could also be considered as money made from the sale and therefore undermines the possibilities that the possession was for personal use.

3. Packaging

Packaging involves looking at the way the controlled substance was broken into smaller units. A large amount of drugs packaged in small different units can be used as proof of intent to distribute. Drugs are packaged in a particular way and a qualified expert can testify that the drugs were packaged for distribution.

4. Paraphernalia Consistent with Distribution

The presence of objects such as scales, razors blades, and small baggies may be regarded as evidence that there was the intent of distribution because such paraphernalia is usually not required for personal use.

Classification of Drugs under Virginia Law

Controlled substances (illegal drugs) are separated into five classes in Virginia. The Schedules are based on the dangers, potential for abuse and recognized medicinal value. Here are the Virginia schedules and the common substances in each schedule. The schedules rank from the extremely dangerous and highly addictive to those with little or no addictive qualities.

  • Schedule I – the extremely dangerous drugs, highly addictive and have no recognized or accepted medical use. Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, GHB, ecstasy, and yes, marijuana.
  • Schedule II – these are drugs that have some accepted medical use, but have a high potential for abuse and have severe psychic or physical dependence. Schedule II controlled substances in Virginia include cocaine, methadone, PCP, morphine, methamphetamine, and  Ritalin
  • Schedule III – these drugs have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule I and II drugs, lead to moderate dependence and have accepted medical use. Common Schedule III drugs include anabolic steroids, ketamine, codeine, and hydrocodone.
  • Schedule IV – In Virginia, these are controlled substances with lower potential for abuse and a limited potential for dependency and have accepted medical use. Schedule IV drugs include Xanax, Darvon, valium, Rohypnol, and other tranquilizers.
  • Schedule V – these drugs have a low potential for abuse and limited potential for abuse compared to the other 4 schedules. They also have accepted medical uses. These include codeine-based cough drugs and other tranquilizers.
  • Schedule VI – most of the substances here are prescription drugs and others are not classified as drugs in the conventional sense but are nonetheless abused. The most common substances in this schedule include toluene (mostly found in paints), butyl nitrite, amyl nitrite and nitrous oxide.

Penalties for Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance in Virginia

Charges of possession with intent to distribute are punished with fines, jail time, and driving license suspension.

Possession of Schedule I and II Controlled Substances

Possession of a Schedule I or II controlled substance with the intent to distribute is punished with 5 to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 for a first offense. A second offense includes five years to life in prison (with a 3 year mandatory minimum) and a fine of up to $500,000. The punishment for third or subsequent offense is 10 years to life in prison (10 years mandatory minimum) and a fine of up to $500,000.

Possession of Schedule III controlled substances – This is a Class 5 felony under Virginia Law that is punished with up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $2,500.

Possession of Schedule IV controlled substances – This is a Class 6 felony whose punishment is 1- 5 years in prison and a fine up to $2,500.

Possession of Schedule V and VI controlled substances – These offenses are Class 1 misdemeanors and the punishment is up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

Call Swango Law P.C.’s Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you are charged with possession with intent to distribute controlled substances in Virginia, it is important to get an attorney immediately due to the possible penalties you could face. Since the Commonwealth of Virginia is serious about these offenses, the prosecution will work to ensure that you are imprisoned for a considerable amount of time.

An experienced, dedicated attorney with comprehensive knowledge of Virginia laws is what you need to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. The attorneys at Swango Law P.C. will defend you against all drug charges including possession with intent to distribute. We always work tirelessly to build a proper defense, so if you’re facing these charges, call us today at (757) 383- 9229 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.


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