People continue to be charged with drug crimes in Lynchburg even during the ongoing civil unrest and coronavirus pandemic. Lynchburg law enforcement arrested a man for failing to appear in court. During the arrest, they discovered illegal drugs and a gun. The discoveries made by the Lynchburg Police Department led prosecutors to charge the man with several different criminal offenses.
The Lynchburg Man Faces Charges for Several Crimes
The investigation into the suspect’s conduct is ongoing. Based on the discovery of drugs and guns, Lynchburg prosecutors brought the following charges against the suspect:
- Two counts of possession of controlled substances
- Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
- Two counts of possession with the intent to distribute a schedule I or II drug
- Possession of a firearm while in the possession with the intention to distribute schedule I or II drugs
- Carrying a concealed weapon
Possession of a Controlled Substance in Virginia
Possession of a controlled substance is one of the most commonly charged drug crimes in Lynchburg, Virginia. Under Virginia law, it is illegal to possess any controlled substance without a valid medical prescription. Virginia uses a schedule for controlled substances. There are six different schedules, or categories, of controlled substances.
Recreationally used prescription drugs are usually Schedule II, III, IV, and V drugs. Drugs that fall into the category of Schedule VI usually include other prescription drugs that do not fall into one of the other schedules. Schedule VI drugs are typically prescription drugs that do not have a recreational value.
Schedule I Drugs:
Schedule II Drugs:
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
- Crystal Meth
Schedule III Drugs:
- Anabolic Steroids (Oxandrin)
- Tylenol or Aspirin with codeine
- Ketamine (special K)
Schedule IV Drugs:
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Rohypnol (Roofy)
- Diazepam (Valium)
Schedule V Drugs:
- Robitussin AC
- Phenergan with Codeine
Schedule VI Drugs:
- Any prescription drugs that are not included in other drug schedules
The Requirements for Possession of a Controlled Substance Charge
Prosecutors will need to prove several elements for a possession of controlled substance charges. In Virginia, possession of a controlled substance happens when drugs are in your “dominion and control.” The prosecutors will need to prove that you had the power to do what you wanted to do with the drugs. Possession of drugs requires two key elements:
- That you knew that you were in possession of drugs, and
- You knew what you were in possession of were drugs
Possession of drugs does not mean that you were merely near drugs or around drugs. In Virginia, it is not enough to find drugs in someone else’s home or car. Law enforcement must prove that the defendant actually knew that the drugs were there. They must also prove that you knew the substance was drugs. For example, if you think that something in your possession is candy, or some other substance, you are not guilty of possession of drugs.
How do Prosecutors Prove Drug Possession Charges?
Typically, law enforcement proves drug possession through circumstantial evidence, or through the confession of the defendant. For example, the police will be able to prove that you knew there were drugs in your car when the drugs were in plain sight. For example, they will prove that you knew what the drugs were based on your statement to the police.
However, when the police officers find drugs in your car, but you do not confess that you knew the drugs were in your case, it will be difficult for prosecutors to prove drug possession without extremely strong circumstantial evidence.
The Penalties for Drug Possession in Virginia
- Possession of a Schedule I or II drug is a Class 5 felony with up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
- Possessing a Schedule III drug is a Class 1 misdemeanor with up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
- Possession of a Schedule IV drug is a Class 2 misdemeanor with up to six months in jail and a $1000 fine.
- Possession of a Schedule V drug is a Class 3 misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $500.
- Possession of a Schedule VI drug is a Class 4 misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $250.
Understanding Charges for Possession with the Intent to Distribute
The defendant in the case mentioned above, prosecutors also brought charges for possession with intent to distribute. Virginia law makes it unlawful for a person to manufacture, sell, give, distribute, or possess with the intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute a controlled substance or imitation controlled substance. The penalties for possession with the intent to distribute depend on the schedule of drugs involved.
If the drugs involved fall into the category of Schedule I or Schedule II drugs, the defendant will face between five and 40 years in prison for a first-time offense, as well as a fine of up to $500,000. When the drug is a Class II controlled substance, the defendant will face separate penalties.
When the defendant is a large volume dealer, the defendant will face a minimum prison sentence of 20 years. Virginia courts can sentence the defendant to life in prison, and a fine of up to one million dollars. Additionally, if you are charged with transporting controlled substances, you will face a separate felony offense charge.
Contact an Experienced Lynchburg Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Many times, suspects who face drug crimes charges in Lynchburg are also charged with other related crimes. Virginia uses mandatory minimum sentencing for many crimes. It is important that you seek out a criminal defense lawyer who will advocate assertively for your rights.
Given the potential lengthy prison sentences and large fines that you face if you are convicted, hiring a skilled defense lawyer will be incredibly important. Contact Straw Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.