Breaking it down
Being charged with manufacturing, selling, or distributing a controlled substance, or possession with the intent to manufacture, sell or distribute, in Virginia is very serious.
- In most instances, a conviction is a felony with penalties varying depending upon the type of substance, the amount, or any previous convictions
- The harshest penalty includes up to a life sentence and $1 million fine
- Your lawyer may be able to contest the charge if you lacked intent to manufacture, sell or distribute, or if the police violated your right to be free of illegal searches and seizures
A charge of manufacturing, selling, or distributing a controlled substance in Virginia is nothing to take lightly. Penalties can be harsh, even when only small quantities of a drug are involved — and the larger the quantity, the longer the potential prison sentence and the greater the fine. In some cases, manufacturing or selling drugs can lead to a life sentence and a $1 million fine.
In most instances, manufacturing, selling, or distributing drugs, or possession with the intent to sell or distribute, is a felony in Virginia. Under the best of circumstances, it’s a serious misdemeanor. A drug conviction almost always will mean jail time and thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. If your charge was related to making meth, you also may have to pay to clean up property damaged by the meth production.
There are the usual consequences of a felony criminal record that can prove a barrier to getting a job, getting a place to live, or getting or keeping custody of your children. If you’re a non-citizen, you can expect a felony drug conviction to impact your immigration status. An experienced defense lawyer may be able to help, especially if there were any problems with the procedures the police used when they arrested you or searched your home or vehicle.
What is a Controlled Substance?
A controlled substance is any kind of illegal drug other than marijuana. That can include street drugs such as heroin, cocaine, molly, or methamphetamine, or prescription drugs such as Ritalin, Vicodin, or Xanax.
Virginia groups controlled substances into six categories known as schedules. Each schedule weighs the potential for harm against the medical use or potential for benefit. Schedule I drugs are those considered the most dangerous and least beneficial. Schedules I through V contain lists of specific substances that are categorized in each, while Schedule VI is defined under Virginia Code §54.1-3455 in essence as any potentially harmful prescription drug not listed on one of the other schedules.
- Schedule I: These are drugs with high potential for abuse and no accepted safe use in medical treatment. Drugs in this class include heroin, ecstasy or molly, and PCP or “Angel Dust.”
- Schedule II: These are defined as substances with high potential for abuse and dependency, but also with restricted medical use. Drugs on this list include opium, cocaine, oxycodone, and amphetamine.
- Schedule III: These are medications with accepted medical use, some risk of physical dependence, high risk of psychological dependence, but generally less potential for abuse than drugs in Schedules I or II. This list includes drugs such as anabolic steroids, codeine, and hydrocodone.
- Schedule IV: These drugs have low potential for abuse, accepted medical use, and limited risk of physical or psychological dependence. Schedule IV drugs primarily include depressants such as barbital or clonazepam, and stimulants such as phentermine.
- Schedule V: These substances have lower potential for abuse and lower risk of dependence than Schedule IV drugs, and have accepted medical uses. This list includes small quantities of some drugs listed on other schedules as part of a compound or mixture, for example a mixture containing up to 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or 100 milligrams of opium per 100 milliliters.
Defining Manufacturing and Delivery
Virginia Code §18.2-248 is a lengthy and specific statute governing various forms of manufacturing, selling, giving, or distributing drugs, or possessing drugs with the intention to distribute them. There are a number of actions that can be charged under this statute. The Drug Control Act offers the relevant definitions in Virginia Code §54.1-3401.
- Manufacturing – This term actually covers a range of actions from those commonly thought of as manufacturing, such as the actual production or processing of a drug, to more tangential actions such as packaging or repackaging a drug.
- Distributing – Transfer of controlled substances without a lawful prescription. This also includes any attempted or constructive distribution. Sharing drugs with a friend is distribution.
- Selling – This includes exchanging drugs for money, but also includes trading drugs for something else of value, or simply gifting them to someone. Making an offer to sell drugs also can result in a charge under this definition.
Drug Manufacturing Penalties in Virginia
The system of penalties for a manufacturing, delivery, or possession with intent to deliver conviction is complex, and sentences and fines vary depending on what the controlled substance was, whether you have prior convictions, and in some instances the amount of the drug. The harshest penalties can include life in prison and up to a $1 million fine.
|Substance||Amount||Number of Convictions||Jail Time||Maximum Fine|
|Schedule I or II drug||N/A||First||Up to 40 years||$500,000|
|Schedule I or II drug||N/A||Second||Up to Life; 3 year mandatory minimum||$500,000|
|Schedule I or II drug||N/a||Third or Subsequent||Up to Life; 10 years mandatory minimum||$500,000|
|Heroin||100 grams or more of a mixture containing the drug||N/A||Up to Life; 5 years mandatory minimum||$1 million|
|Heroin||1 kilogram or more of a mixture containing the drug||N/A||Up to Life; 20 years mandatory minimum||$1 million|
|Cocaine||500 grams or more of a mixture containing the drug||N/A||Up to Life; 5 years mandatory minimum||$1 million|
|Cocaine||5 kilograms or more of a mixture containing the drug||N/A||Up to Life; 20 years mandatory minimum||$1 million|
|Cocaine base||250 grams or more of a mixture containing the substance||N/A||Up to Life; 5 years mandatory minimum||$1 million|
|Cocaine base||2.5 kilograms or more of a mixture containing the substance||N/A||Up to Life; 20 years mandatory minimum||$1 million|
|Methamphetamine||10 grams or more; 20 grams of a mixture containing the drug||N/A||Up to Life; 5 years mandatory minimum*||$1 million|
|Methamphetamine||100 grams or more; 200 grams of a mixture containing the drug||N/A||Up to Life; 20 years mandatory minimum*||$1 million|
|Marijuana||100 kilograms or more of a mixture containing the drug||N/A||Up to Life; 20 years mandatory minimum||$1 million|
|Schedule III drug, except anabolic steroids||N/A||N/A||Up to10 years||$2,500|
|Schedule IV drug||N/A||N/A||Up to 5 years||$2,500|
|Imitation Schedule I, II, III or IV drug||N/A||N/A||Up to 5 years||$2,500|
|Schedule V or VI drug; imitation Schedule V or VI drug||N/A||N/A||0 to 12 months||$2,500|
* The mandatory minimum term of imprisonment is not applicable if you have no prior violent felony convictions; you didn’t use violence, credible threat of violence, or firearms or dangerous weapons in connection with the offense; no one was killed or seriously injured as a result of the offense; you weren’t the organizer or leader of others in the offense and you weren’t engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise; and you’ve truthfully told the prosecutor everything you know about the offense.
Giving or Distributing Schedule I or II Drugs in Virginia
When you give a substance listed on Schedule I or II — for example, ecstasy or cocaine — to another person who isn’t a corrections inmate, and you don’t intend to profit or induce the person to become addicted, a conviction under Virginia Code §18.2-248 (D) is a Class 5 felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $2,500 fine.
Defenses for a Drug Manufacturing Charge
Defense of drug cases often comes down to the legality of how you were arrested or how the police found evidence against you. If you’re charged with manufacturing, selling, or distributing a drug, or with possession with the intent to manufacture, sell or distribute, it’s important that you consult with an attorney with experience defending drug cases. A skilled drug defense lawyer in Virginia will be able to spot any potential violations of your right not to be subjected to illegal searches or seizures, or violations of your right not to incriminate yourself. Prying open any flaws in the procedures used by the police in your arrest or in the collection of evidence could be important to avoiding some of the very serious consequences of a conviction.
If you’re charged with possession of a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture, sell or distribute, your intent is the key thing a prosecutor has to prove. Intent can be hard to prove, and a prosecutor’s argument often will rely on circumstantial evidence to try to show your intent. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to sow the seeds of doubt that may help get your charge reduced, sentence lessened, or your case dismissed.
Facing Drug Manufacturing Charges in Virginia?
If you’ve been charged with manufacturing a controlled substance in Virginia, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico can help evaluate the details of your case and your options. For an appointment at our Roanoke office, call our local number at .