Virginia and the First Offender Program for Possession of a Controlled Substance


In Virginia, a first offender program is available for those charged with drug possession, regardless of the type of drug.  Va Code § 18.2-251 outlines the criteria by which first offenders may be placed on probation to have the charge dismissed.  The program is most often utilized for possession of marijuana charges.  However, the statute applies to possession of all controlled substances.

The requirements of probation under the statute depend upon the type of drug that the defendant is charged with possessing.  A felony charge versus a misdemeanor depends on what type of drug is found to be in your possession.

In Virginia, controlled substances are classified into different schedules.  Classifications are determined based on the potential for abuse balanced against legitimate medical uses.

Possession of a schedule 1 or a schedule 2 substance is a class 5 felony.   Examples of a schedule 1 are heroin, ecstasy, and LSD. Examples of schedule 2 are crystal meth and cocaine.  Popular ADHD medications such as Adderall and Vyvanse are also classified as schedule 2 drugs.

Substances categorized as schedule 3 to schedule 5 are misdemeanors.  Schedule 3 is a class 1 misdemeanor. Examples of schedule 3 include Vicodin and anabolic steroids.

Schedule 4 is a class 2 misdemeanor.  Examples include Valium and Xanax.

Schedule 5 is a class 3 misdemeanor.  An example is Codeine cough syrup.

The community service requirements differ depending on whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor.  Virginia requires at least 100 hours of community service for a felony versus up to 24 hours of community service for a misdemeanor.

The first offender program also requires a mandatory six month license suspension, a substance abuse assessment, and random drug testing throughout the probationary period.

If you have questions about possession of a controlled substance in Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, or the surrounding counties, please contact the attorneys of Winslow & McCurry, PLLC at (804)423-1382 or email us at