Protecting Your Rights
Va. Code § 18.2-248 creates a special felony for possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance.
There are several ways the police attempt to prove possession with intent to distribute (PWID): undercover drug buys, confessions, text messages from the defendant’s phone, the quantity of drugs (more than the amount typical for personal use), possession of scales, individually packaged drugs, and possession of lots of cash.
The punishments for PWID non-marijuana drugs increase as the quantity of drug in the defendant’s possession increases. However, there is no minimum quantity for distribution of controlled substances. An officer can charge someone if they share one hit on a crack pipe or pass around a needle.
Possession with intent to distribute a schedule I,II, III, and IV drugs is a felony. Distribution of Schedule I/II drugs comes with up to 40 years in prison for the first offense and life in prison for the second offense with a mandatory minimum of three years. For the third offense, possession with intent to distribute a schedule I/II comes with a maximum of life in prison and a minimum of 10 years. Possession with intent to distribute is always a very serious crime.
Sale or Distribution of Drugs Near a School
VA Code § 18.2-255.2 bans distribution or sale of drugs near schools, day care centers, school bus stops, and many other public locations. This law applies even if the defendant was not intending to distribute the drugs on school property.
For instance: if a defendant drives through a school zone while dropping some pills off at his friend’s house, he has violated this statute.
There is a long list of locations where this statute applies: any public property within 1,000 feet of any school, including colleges and junior colleges, school bus stops (if children are present), day care centers, recreation centers, public libraries, community centers, and any public property within 1,000 feet of a state hospital or health facility.
To charge an individual with possession of intent to distribute, the police must prove the intent to distribute the drugs. The most common ways the police prove distribution is through text messages, voice mail messages, police stings, undercover informants, and statements by the defendant.
Possessing scales, several small individually wrapped quantities of drugs, large amounts of cash in small bills, and hanging out in a high drug-crime area can also be used as evidence to suggest distribution.
However, it is important to remember that the government must prove that the defendant intended to distribute the specific drugs he possessed at the time.
For example, if the police catch a suspect with .6 ounces of cocaine and a text message offering to sell 10 ecstasy pills, that may not be enough to prove distribution of .6 ounces of cocaine.
Also, if a suspect is caught with .2 ounces of cocaine and a text message from a week ago offering to sell some cocaine, that text message may be too old to prove that the suspect possessed the .2 ounces with the intent to distribute.
Call (703) 215-1114 when you need a possession with intent to distribute lawyer in Northern Virginia.
Luke J. Nichols and Garrett D. Green are the senior partners at Nichols & Green PLLC and they defend hundreds of people accused of crimes in Northern Virginia. If you have been charged with distribution of a controlled substance in Northern Virginia call (703) 215-1114 for a free consultation with an attorney today.
These lawyers wrote the book on defending drug crimes in Virginia and they are happy to share their knowledge and experience with anyone charged with a drug crime in Northern Virginia as part of a free consultation.
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