Over the past decade, illegal drug use has increased significantly all over the country, and Prince William County is no exception. According to a recent report, overdose deaths in Prince William County shot up from 65 in 2019 to 101 in 2020—an increase of more than 50%. As a result, police are constantly looking to get illegal drugs off the street. However, with aggressive policing comes a variety of other problems. For example, police may be overly eager to search someone they suspect of committing a drug crime and violate their rights in the process. At the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone, our Prince William County drug crimes attorney aggressively represents clients charged with possessing, distributing, and manufacturing controlled substances.

Virginia Drug Classifications

A man arrested because of drug crimes in Prince William County.

In addition to federal laws prohibiting the possession of certain drugs, every state is responsible for creating its own drug laws. Similar to federal law, Virginia law classifies all controlled substances into five categories or “schedules.”

Schedule I Substances

These substances have a high potential for abuse and no valid medical use. Examples of Schedule I substances include heroin and LSD.

Schedule II Substances

These substances have a high potential for abuse and present a serious risk of dependence; however, they also have accepted medical uses. Examples of Schedule II substances include cocaine, crack, methadone, and methamphetamine.

Schedule III Substances

These substances have a lower potential for abuse than those in Schedule II but still present a moderate risk of dependence. Schedule III substances also have various medical uses. Examples of Schedule III substances include codeine and anabolic steroids.

Schedule IV Substances

These substances have a lower potential for abuse than those in Schedule III but still present some risk of dependence. Schedule IV substances are also generally accepted in medical treatment. Examples of Schedule IV substances include Xanax, Valium, and certain tranquilizers and sedatives.

Schedule V Substances

These substances are those which are not generally considered drugs but are still used for recreational purposes and have the potential for abuse. An example of a Schedule V substance is nitrous oxide.

Regardless of which substance the government accuses you of possessing, it is essential that you have an experienced Prince William County drug crimes attorney on your side. 

Types of Prince William Drug Crimes

In Virginia, there are two broad categories of drug offenses.

Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance 

The Code of Virginia § 18.2-250 criminalizes the possession of illegal narcotics. So if prosecutors believe that you illegally possessed narcotics—whether that narcotic is always illegal or if it’s legal only with a prescription that you do not possess—they can bring criminal charges against you. This is often referred to as “simple possession” because evidence indicates that you only had the drugs for personal use.

Manufacturing or Distributing a Controlled Substance 

The Code of Virginia § 18.2-248 criminalizes the manufacturing or distribution of controlled substances. Prosecutors bring drug manufacturing or drug distribution charges when they believe someone made drugs themselves (e.g., making meth in a meth lab in your home) or possessed drugs with the intention of selling them.

Both possession and possession with intent to distribute are serious crimes. If a judge or jury finds you guilty of either, the conviction will stay on your record for life. That said, allegations of manufacturing or distributing drugs are generally much more serious.

Penalties for a Drug Crime Conviction in Prince William County

Virginia drug laws are especially harsh. In terms of possession of a controlled dangerous substance, the seriousness of the offense depends on which schedule the drug belongs to. For example, possession of a Schedule I substance carries a prison sentence of 1-10 years or a jail sentence of up to 12 months. The court may also assess a fine of up to $2,500.

For manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance, it again depends on the type of drug. Manufacturing or distributing a Schedule I or II drugs is a felony offense. If convicted, you face a sentence of up to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. For Schedule III, IV, and V substances, manufacturing or delivering can be a Class 5 or Class 6 felony or a Class 1 misdemeanor, depending on the situation.

Aggressive Drug Charge Defense in Prince William County

If you face drug charges in Prince William County, it is important that you take your circumstances seriously. A conviction for a drug offense can alter the course of your life, even if it’s a first-time offense. At the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone, we can help you defend your case and your freedom. With over a decade of experience representing clients facing all types of Virginia drug crimes, Prince William County Drug Crimes Lawyer Pignone knows what it takes to defend against even the toughest cases.

Our experienced legal practitioner also handles other types of cases, including:

To learn more about how we can help you fight your Prince William County drug case, give the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone a call. You can also reach us through our online contact form.