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Overview of Virginia Drug Schedules and Penalties

The penalties for drug charges in Virginia vary wildly based on the type of drug in question, whether or not there was intent to sell or distribute, and any previous charges leveled against a defendant. To differentiate between different types of drugs, the state has outlined six classifications, or schedules, that substances will fall into. The lower the schedule number, the more serious the charge. Here is an overview of the types of drugs in each schedule and the penalties for each tier:

  • Schedule I and II. What we think of as hard drugs – heroin and methamphetamine, to name a couple – usually fall within this parameter of Schedule I or II. Possession of these types of drugs results in Class 5 felony charges, which carries a prison sentence of 2-10 years.
  • Schedule III. Opioids and codeine are common examples of Schedule III drugs. Being caught with one of these substances will earn you a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can land you in prison for up to a year.
  • Schedule IV. Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, fall into this schedule. If you are charged with possession of one of these drugs (without a prescription, of course), you could be jailed for up to six months. 
  • Schedule V. Certain prescription cold medicines, such as codeine-containing cough syrups and expectorants, are classified as Schedule V drugs. You should not receive any jail time for a first possession offense, but you are subject to a fine of up to $500.
  • Schedule VI. Drugs that are included in Schedule VI include many drugs that are exempted from the other schedules and substances that are usually not even considered drugs, such as inhalants. Possession of Schedule VI drugs means you might have to pay a fine not in excess of $250.

Schedule I (dangerous and addictive, no medical use): GHB, Heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy

Schedule II (highly addictive, some medical use): Methadone, Methamphetamine, Cocaine, PCP, Morphine

Schedule III (highly addictive, frequent medical use): Steroids, Ketamine, Vicodin, Hydrocodone

Schedule IV (some risk of addiction, prescription drugs): Rohypnol, Valium, Xanax

Schedule V (minor addiction risk, cold medications): Codeine

Schedule VI (little to no risk of addiction): Marijuana

Drug Treatment Court

Virginia has followed the lead of many other states and instituted a drug treatment court that drug offenders may enter into if they meet certain conditions. First-time offenders with no history of violent crimes who plead guilty to possession charges are subject to this court system. The goal of the drug treatment court is to rehabilitate individuals with genuine dependencies and addictions. However, be aware that you are subject to vigorous monitoring and conditions while part of this program. 

Call Us

First-time drug offenses are scary enough, but your life can get extremely complicated if you are a repeat offender. Harsher penalties are possibly in store if you possess drugs with intent to sell, distribute drugs to minors, or sell and distribute drugs near schools and other public buildings. If you are staring down the barrel of a long prison sentence for a drug charge, please reach out to Norton Pelt today at (540) 440-7007 for effective and experienced legal representation.

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