What You Need to Know About Virginia Drug Distribution Offenses and Penalties

Criminal charges involving the distribution (sale), manufacturing, or transportation of controlled substances are most serious of all drug crimes in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia. Some of the drugs that fall under these charges include:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Crack
  • Heroin
  • PCP
  • Methamphetamine ("meth")
  • Ecstasy (MDA or MDMA)
  • LSD
  • Psilocybin (mushrooms)
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Prescription drugs, such as Xanax, Valium, Percocet/Oxycodone, and codeine

Drug distribution, manufacturing/cultivation, and transportation crimes carry severe penalties and, like other drug offenses, are aggressively investigated and prosecuted throughout Fairfax County, Prince William County, Arlington County, Loudoun County, Alexandria, and elsewhere in Northern Virginia.

You must be absolutely certain your criminal defense attorney understands how narcotics investigations are developed and proceed, and the mechanics of a narcotics prosecution.  You can contact the experienced legal team at Manikas Law, LLC to schedule a consultation if you've charged with one or more of the following crimes or any other drug offense:

  • Drug Manufacturing /Cultivation: Va. Code 18.2-248, 18.2-248.1, & 18.2-248.03
  • Drug Distribution /Sale: Va. Code 18.2-248, 18.2-248.1, & 18.2-248.03
  • Drug Transportation: Va. Code 18.2-248.01
  • Drug Conspiracy and Attempts: Va. Code 18.2-256 and 18.2-257

What Must Be Proven to Get a Distribution Conviction in Fairfax or Northern Virginia

As with a drug possession or possession with intent to distribute charge, the prosecutor must prove that the accused "knowingly and intentionally" possessed the illegal drug (see the Drug Possession and PWID page for an explanation of these terms). The prosecutor must also prove that the accused transferred or assisted in the transfer of a drug to another person. Generally, this proof is established through an admission by the accused or the testimony of an undercover narcotics agent who took part in or was present for the drug transaction. The government may also rely on the testimony of an undercover confidential informant for this testimony.

Penalties for Drug Distribution in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia

The penalty for a drug distribution charge varies by drug type, the amount sold, and whether it's a first of subsequent offense. At a minimum, distribution of a schedule I or II drug is punishable by 5–to–40 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. A second conviction carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Given that Virginia has eliminated parole, these potential sentences are significant.

What Is an Accommodation Defense?

The accommodation defense may be available if it's proven that the accused gave, distributed, or possessed with intent to give or distribute a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II only as an accommodation to another individual who is not an inmate in a correctional facility. Defense must also show that he did so without having the intent to profit—it must be a non-commercial transaction. If this is established, the crime can be reduced to a Class 5 felony. The maximum punishment for a Class 5 felony is 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.

What Is Drug Transportation?

Transporting or trafficking drugs can constitute many crimes, including possession with the intent to distribute. However, it can also result in an additional charge under Va. Code 18.2-248.01 if it can be shown that the accused transported or was involved in the transportation of drugs into the Commonwealth of Virginia and accused had the intent to sell or distribute the drugs. This offense only applies if the drugs are of a certain quantity.

Upon conviction, this offense carries a penalty of 5–to–40 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Three years of this sentence is a mandatory minimum; therefore, the judge cannot suspend this time and 100 person of the time must be served. A second or subsequent conviction is punishable by a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years.

Choose an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney If You Face Drug Distribution Charges

As with all narcotics cases, distribution and manufacturing cases can be complex and involve constitutional search and seizure issues, scientific and technical issues, and evidentiary issues regarding the chain of custody of the drugs There can also be witness credibility issues given that these cases often involve confidential informants who usually have long criminal records and are drug users or dealers themselves.

If you've been arrested for a drug or narcotics in Fairfax County or Northern Virginia, contact Manikas Law, LLC. We've handled hundreds of drug-related defenses, including misdemeanor and felony charges relating to the possession, possession with intent to distribute, distribution, and manufacture of illegal drugs and controlled substances. For a free consultation, contact our law office to learn what your options may be.