Fairfax Drug Crimes Attorney

Police officers in Fairfax are constantly on the lookout for anything that resembles a drug transaction. When police think they see a drug deal, they spring into action, arresting both the buyer and the seller. Regardless of which side of the transaction you are on, a conviction for a Fairfax drug crime can have a serious impact on your life. At the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone, we proudly represent clients charged with all types of drug crimes. Whether it’s your first arrest or you’ve been through the system before, our skilled Fairfax drug crimes attorney is immediately available to help you fight the case.

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Types of Drug Charges in Virginia

An image reflecting a drug crime in Fairfax.

There are several different types of drug charges in Virginia, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. Generally, the seriousness of a drug crime depends on the type and quantity of drugs that police claim you had possession of and whether the drugs were for personal use or sale. Often, prosecutors bring several charges based on a single arrest. Some of the most common drug charges in Fairfax include:

  • Possession of marijuana;
  • Possession of a controlled substance;
  • Drug manufacturing;
  • Drug distribution;
  • Prescription drug fraud; and
  • Conspiracy to commit a drug crime.

Regardless of the type of drug charges you face, the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone can help by working with you to develop a compelling defense. With our help, you may be able to beat the case altogether or plead to less serious charges.

Possession of a Controlled Substance in Virginia: An Overview

Police charge people with possession of a controlled substance whenever they find illegal drugs. However, a Fairfax drug crimes attorney can represent you against any level of drug charge, not just possession. 

What Is a Controlled Substance?

First, you need to know what a controlled substance is. If the substance you possess is not considered a controlled substance, you cannot face charges for possession. Controlled substances include:

  • Heroin;
  • Cocaine;
  • Methamphetamine;
  • Opium;
  • Morphine;
  • Fentanyl;
  • LSD; and
  • Ecstasy.

Additionally, some prescription medications are considered controlled substances. If you possess these medications without a valid prescription, that is considered possession of a controlled substance.

Virginia separates controlled substances into six categories: Schedule I to Schedule VI. The schedule is linked to the potential for abuse and whether an acceptable medical use exists for the drug. Schedule I represents the most addictive level of drugs that do not have an acceptable medical use, like heroin and ecstasy. 

What Does Possession Mean?

Under Virginia law, possession occurs when a person is knowingly or intentionally in possession of a controlled substance. While this might sound easy to prove, it can create several issues for the prosecution, depending on the circumstances. For example, ownership or occupancy of a space where a controlled substance was found does not automatically mean you are guilty of possession. 

For instance, if law enforcement officers locate a controlled substance in the backseat of your vehicle, the prosecution cannot automatically assume the substance belonged to you just because you own the vehicle. The prosecution must prove that you were aware of the presence and character of the controlled substance and consciously possessed or exercised control over it.

If the State has charged you with possession of a controlled substance, you should contact a Fairfax drug offense lawyer right away. Depending on the facts, a Fairfax drug crimes attorney might have grounds to have your charges reduced or dismissed entirely.

Penalties for Drug Crimes in Virginia

The penalties for various drug crimes depend on several factors, such as:

  • The schedule of the drug you allegedly possessed;
  • The quantity of the substance;
  • Where the crime took place; and
  • What you planned to do with the substance.

Any drug conviction can negatively impact your reputation as well as your freedom. The criminal penalty imposed depends on the level of your charges.

Simple Possession

Simple possession is the most common drug crime in most jurisdictions. Simple possession carries the lowest level of drug crime penalties.

  • For drugs that qualify as Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances, a possession conviction is a Class 5 felony. A Class 5 felony carries the potential of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
  • For Schedule III drugs, possession is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor carries the potential of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. 
  • For Schedule IV drugs, a possession conviction is a Class 2 misdemeanor. A Class 2 misdemeanor carries the potential of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. 
  • For Schedule V drugs, a possession conviction is a Class 3 misdemeanor. A Class 3 misdemeanor is penalized with a fine of up to $500.
  • For Schedule VI drugs, possession is a Class 4 misdemeanor. A Class 4 misdemeanor carries a fine of up to $250.

If you have any questions about penalties for drug possession in Virginia, contact a Fairfax drug offense lawyer today.

Possession With Intent to Sell

If law enforcement finds evidence that indicates you were going to sell the controlled substance, you can face significantly higher penalties. Evidence that might make officers believe you intended to sell the substance includes:

  • Packaging materials;
  • A ledger;
  • Large amounts of cash;
  • Absence of drug paraphernalia for personal use; and
  • Witness testimony.

Possession with intent to distribute could result in up to 40 years in prison if the narcotic found was a Schedule I or II drug. If the narcotic was a Schedule III drug, the penalty for possession with intent to distribute is up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.

Hiring a Fairfax drug crimes attorney gives you the best chance of getting your charges reduced. Contact our office today to discuss your case.

Why Hire a Fairfax Drug Crimes Attorney?

At first glance, it may seem like a drug case is pretty straightforward: you either had the drugs on you or you didn’t. However, that’s a prosecutor’s mentality. From a defense perspective, drug cases should be complex because there are a lot of moving parts. An experienced drug lawyer can review the facts of your case and discuss all the possible defenses with you.

Motion to Suppress

For example, one of the most common defenses to drug charges is a motion to suppress. A motion to suppress involves challenging the evidence police officers obtained leading up to or after your arrest. Law enforcement officers cannot stop someone on the street for no reason—they need either probable cause or reasonable suspicion. If an officer cannot point to facts that justify a pedestrian or traffic stop, any evidence they recover as a result of the stop is inadmissible at trial. In a drug case, a successful motion to suppress often means the prosecution is left without any evidence to prove their case. However, it takes a skilled lawyer to understand the complex principles of search and seizure law.

Proving Possession

Even if potentially harmful evidence comes into trial, an experienced lawyer may still be able to argue that you did not “possess” the drugs. Possession is another topic that isn’t always as straightforward as it seems. In many Fairfax drug cases, narcotics are recovered from a car, a home, a backpack, or in a stash location. It’s then up to the police officers to connect you to the drugs. However, just because police attribute drugs to you doesn’t mean that they were yours. A drug crimes attorney can challenge the government’s claim that you had knowledge of or exercised control over the drugs.

Negotiating an Advantageous Plea Deal

A drug attorney can also help in the event of an unavoidable conviction. For example, your attorney may be able to negotiate a favorable plea agreement with prosecutors to avoid trial or by arguing in favor of a reduced sentence to the judge after a judge or jury trial.

Facing drug charges can feel overwhelming, as there is a lot at stake. However, with our experienced Fairfax drug crimes lawyer by your side, you can rest assured that you, your case, and your future are in good hands.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone to Speak with a Fairfax Drug Crimes Attorney About Your Case

If you face drug charges in Fairfax, it is important you work with a lawyer who will take your case as seriously as you do. At the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone, our Fairfax criminal charges defense lawyer is dedicated to aggressively advocating on behalf of each of his clients. For more than a decade, Attorney Michael Pignone has represented clients facing drug possession and drug distribution cases. We’ve helped countless clients get out from under serious drug charges, often avoiding a conviction altogether.

Our experienced lawyer also handles other types of cases, including:

To learn more and schedule a free consultation to speak with a Fairfax drug crimes lawyer about your case, give us a call today. You can also reach us through our online contact form.