| Read Time: 4 minutes | DUI

Xanax is the name of a drug belonging to the benzodiazepine family. Benzos, as this class of drugs is often known, are powerful depressants. In addition to Xanax, other drugs in the benzodiazepine group include Valium, Ativan, Restoril, and Klonopin. Doctors prescribe these drugs to treat seizures. However, doctors also prescribe these medications to patients suffering from severe sleeplessness and anxiety. As a result, there is a substantial black market for Xanax. Taking any medication, including Xanax, without a prescription is incredibly dangerous. That is why possession of Xanax without a prescription is a very serious crime in Virginia.

If you have Xanax possession charges, then you need to contact a hard-working, dedicated, and successful drug charges defense lawyer to fight for you. Since 1995, Michael Pignone has done just that. He has the experience and the track record of success you need to avoid the harsh penalties for possessing Xanax.

Is Possession of Xanax a Felony Crime in Virginia?

Of course, you can legally possess Xanax if you have a valid prescription. Consequently, you could face drug possession charges if you have Xanax in your possession but don’t have your prescription bottle with you. Additionally, you could face drug charges if you have someone else’s Xanax prescription. 

What Are the Penalties for Possession of Xanax?

Virginia’s drug possession statute classifies Xanax as a Schedule IV drug. The drug possession penalties in Virginia indicate that unlawful possession of a Schedule IV drug is a Class 2 misdemeanor. The sentence for a Class 2 misdemeanor is a maximum of six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. 

Despite the possible punishment, you could receive probation if you have a clean record. Your probation will likely come with numerous conditions. Those conditions include:

  • Completing a drug rehabilitation program,
  • Performing up to 24 hours of community service,
  • Remain drug and alcohol-free, and
  • Make reasonable efforts to secure employment.

Your probation will also include a condition that you abide by all local, state, and federal laws as well. 

Felony Possession of Xanax

The possible sentence for possession of Xanax increases if the police charge you with intent to sell. Only people who have a valid license to prescribe medication can distribute Xanax, provided they comply with all other legal requirements. Therefore, any person who transfers Xanax to another person unless authorized to do so by statute commits a felony. 

Under Virginia’s drug laws, selling or distributing a Schedule IV drug like Xanax is a Class 6 felony. However, giving Xanax to a person who needs it without taking money in exchange is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalty for a Class 1 misdemeanor is a maximum sentence of one year in jail or a fine of no more than $2,500.  The penalty for a Class 6 felony is the same as a Class 1 misdemeanor, or a person could serve between one and five years in prison. The law leaves the determination of where the person will serve a period of incarceration to the judge or jury. 

What Is the Difference Between Straight Possession and Intent to Sell?

Drug enforcement investigators are well-trained to look for evidence distinguishing simple possession from intent to sell. Detectives will look for “indicia of distribution” when investigating someone for selling drugs. They will look for items such as:

  • Large amounts of cash,
  • Drug ledgers or account books,
  • Weapons,
  • Drug packaging,
  • Large quantities of drugs,
  • Scales, and
  • Counter-surveillance equipment. 

By contrast, a person who is merely using rather than selling might have open packages, small amounts of drugs, and little to no money. 

What Are Some Defenses to Possession of Xanax?

Having a highly experienced and skilled drug charges defense lawyer examine your case is the best way to determine the defense tactic that gives you the best chance of beating your case. Each case has individual characteristics that make it unique to the people involved. 

With that being said, some defenses have worked in other cases that could work in your favor. When defending drug cases, a knowledgeable attorney will look at the police investigation to see if they violated your constitutional rights. If they violated your rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, then the judge could throw out all of the evidence against you.

You also have a right to go to trial to make the Commonwealth prove its case against you. The prosecutor has to prove each element of the crime against you beyond a reasonable doubt. In many drug cases, the prosecutor might have weak evidence to show you had possession of the drugs.

What Is Possession?

You’ve probably heard that possession is 9/10’s of the law. That is true in many respects. Notwithstanding, the term possession has a particular meaning in Virginia law. Therefore, you should understand the definition of possession and how it could apply to your case.

Possession has two meanings. The first is actual possession. Having actual possession of something means having direct physical control over the item. For example, you have actual possession of the device you’re using to read this article. 

The second meaning of possession refers to the theory of constructive possession. Constructive possession refers to your ability to exercise control over an item that is not directly under your control. However, despite not having direct control over the item, you know where it is located and have the intention to exercise control over it. 

An example might clarify the difference. Suppose you leave your wallet on top of the dresser in your bedroom. Even if you aren’t in your bedroom, you still have possession of your wallet because you know where it is and have the ability to get it when you need it. 

Therefore, you could avoid a conviction for unlawful Xanax possession if the prosecution cannot prove that you had control of drugs in the legal sense.

Need Help with a Possession of Xanax Charge?

Virginia drug charges defense attorney Michael A. Pignone is the lawyer to call if you have Xanax charges in Northern Virginia. Michael understands the Virginia justice system well. As a Commonwealth attorney, he has gained significant courtroom experience and learned the intricacies of drug prosecution. He uses that knowledge to benefit his clients today. He is available 24/7 to help you with your case. He also believes in treating each client like they are his only client. That dedication and attention to detail can give you the edge you need. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone today to learn more. 

Author Photo

Michael Pignone

Michael Pignone was raised and has lived in Prince William County since 1972. He attended public schools in the county and graduated high school from Osbourn High in Manassas. Following high school, he attended George Mason University where he graduated with honors from the Business School with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance. He was then accepted into, and graduated with honors from, Suffolk Law School in Boston, Massachusetts. Before entering private practice, he clerked for the Prosecutor in the Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

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