The criminal penalties under state and federal law for possession of illegal drugs in Virginia can be harsh. Possessing even small quantities of controlled substances can result in state and federal penalties, including significant jail time. Additionally, as several recent drug-ring busts demonstrate, a conviction for distributing drugs rather than just possessing them can lead to even greater consequences.
Federal Drug Trafficking Charges
For example, the maximum federal sentence for a first-time distribution of drugs conviction involving up to 50 kilograms of marijuana, or between 1 and 49 marijuana plants, is five years in federal prison. In addition, defendants can be fined up to $250,000 if they acted alone or as much as $1 million if there were co-conspirators. A second conviction increases the defendant’s sentence to a maximum 10 years and fines of up to $500,000 or $2 million, depending on whether the person acted alone.
Virginia Man’s Arrest Uncovers Drug Ring
In one case, 18 suspected members of a drug gang were charged with participating in a nationwide drug-trafficking ring, according to the Washington Times. The drug ring — exposed after the arrest of a Virginia man for distribution of marijuana — allegedly transported marijuana from California to drug dealers in more than 12 states throughout the country.
Drug-trafficking penalties vary by defendant, depending on such factors as:
- The amount of marijuana attributable to each defendant
- The level of involvement of each defendant
- Whether the defendant has prior similar convictions
In another recent case, a Virginia man pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine, according to RepublicanHerald.com. The man was sentenced to 12 months in federal prison, with four years of supervised release following the prison term. Meanwhile, the leader of the drug conspiracy received a 72-month federal sentence.
Those who have been arrested or charged with possession or distribution of drugs should obtain representation by a skilled criminal defense attorney who will review the drug charges against them and advocate for them throughout the criminal case.