Jail Time and Fines: Penalties for Drug Possession in Virginia

Virginia’s drug laws are notoriously strict with harsh penalties that depend primarily on the type of crime, the type of drug involved and the amount. The first question we often receive is, will I go to jail? As with most legal questions, the answer is often, it depends.

Virginia Code Section § 18.2-250 assigns possession of a Schedule I or II Controlled Substance as a Class 5 felony which can lead to 2-10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Schedule I Controlled Substances include heroin, cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine. Possession of Schedule III or IV Controlled Substances are Class 1 and 2 misdemeanors and can lead to sentences of up to 12 and 6 months respectively, as well as fines of up to $2,500 and $1,000 respectively. Possession of Schedule V or VI Controlled Substances are Class 3 and 4 misdemeanors and can lead to fines of up to $500 and $250 respectively.

Virginia Code Section § 18.2-250.1 defines anyone found in possession of marijuana as guilty of a misdemeanor if the amount is less than ½ ounce and they will be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. Second offenses (or if the amount is greater than ½ ounce) will face more severe penalties ranging from up to 12 months in jail to 2-10 years in jail and a $2,500 fine. However, if marijuana in the form of cannabidiol or THC-A oil was properly prescribed by a doctor for a documented medical issue and the individual can produce the appropriate documentation – it may serve as an affirmative defense against the charges.

In certain cases, the Commonwealth may include additional charges such as conspiracy and distribution, resulting in more severe penalties.

First offenders are eligible for the possibility of probation instead of jail time via a court’s First Offender Program. The terms of probation can include substance abuse treatment and educational programs, regular drug screenings and community service. Judges reserve the right to apply additional conditions at their discretion. Violating probation can result in receiving the maximum penalty for the original charge.

Charges and sentences for drug-related crimes in Virginia can carry sentences that range from a fine to many years in prison which is why we highly recommend speaking with an attorney so that you can better understand how the law applies to your particular case.

If you have been charged with drug possession in central Virginia, including Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover or the surrounding jurisdictions, and have questions on your criminal defense options, please contact the criminal law attorneys at Winslow & McCurry, PLLC at (804) 423-1382.