All states regulate and control the sale of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for sale. Virginia classifies not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine as CDS, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.
This article discusses the illegal manufacture and sale of CDS only. Illegally possessing CDS for personal use carries different penalties. For more information on possession of CDS for personal use, see Possession of Controlled Substances in Virginia.
Also, while marijuana is considered a CDS, this article does not cover Virginia’s marijuana possession and sale laws. To learn more about that topic, see Virginia Marijuana Laws.
How Virginia Classifies CDS
Virginia divides CDS into six “Schedules”. Schedule I lists the most dangerous drugs, which have a high probability of abuse and addiction, and no recognized medical value. Schedules II, III, IV, V and VI decrease in dangerousness and probability of abuse, and increase in recognized medical uses.
If you’ve been arrested for illegal CDS production or sales, you’ll need to consult the Virginia Code that lists precisely which drugs fit into each group. Go to the table of contents for the statutes (Virginia Ann. Code § 54.1-3446, -3448, -3450, -3452, -3454, & -3455) and find the substance you're charged with selling -- it will be listed under one of the six schedules.
Penalties for Making or Selling CDS
It is illegal in Virginia to make or sell CDS (or possess CDS with the intent do these things). Penalties vary according to the type of CDS involved, and whether the offense was a first or subsequent violation. (Virginia Ann. Code § 18.2-248.)
Schedule I and II CDS
First convictions. Penalties include a fine of up to $500,000, at least five (and up to 40) years in prison, or both.
Second convictions. Penalties include a fine of up to $500,000, at least five years (and up to life) in prison, or both. The judge may impose a mandatory minimum prison term of up to five years.
Third and subsequent convictions. Penalties include a fine of up to $500,000, up to life in prison (at least five years of which are an automatic mandatory minimum prison term), or both.
Specified types and amounts of CDS
Making or selling specified amounts of the following CDS is punishable with a fine of up to $1,000,000, up to life in prison (five years of which are an automatic mandatory minimum prison term), or both.
- Heroin -- 100 grams or more
- Cocaine -- 500 grams or more
- Ecgonine – any amount
- Methamphetamine – 10 grams or more
Mandatory minimum prison terms
A mandatory minimum prison term is a specified portion of the prison sentence that may not be suspended (such as through parole). The judge may impose a mandatory minimum prison term when one or more of the following circumstances existed regarding the violation:
- The offense is a second or subsequent violation.
- The defendant used or threatened to use a firearm or violence during the offense.
- The defendant induced another participant in the offense to use a firearm or violence during the violation.
- A death or serious bodily injury occurred as a result of the offense.
- The defendant was a leader or organizer of a continuing criminal enterprise (described below).
- The defendant has not provided information about the current or another violation to the prosecutor as part of a plea bargain.
First conviction. Penalties for making or selling less than 10 grams of meth (or less than 200 grams of a mixture containing meth) include a fine of up to $500,000, at least ten (and up to 40) years in prison, or both; and restitution (paying money) for property damage and costs incurred in cleaning property used to manufacture meth.
Second conviction. Penalties include a fine of up to $500,000, at least ten years (and up to life) in prison, or both; and restitution.
Third and subsequent convictions. Penalties include a fine of up to $500,000; at least ten years in prison, three of which will be a mandatory minimum prison term (and up to life in prison); or both; and restitution.
Schedule III CDS
Making or selling a Schedule III CDS, excluding anabolic steroids, incurs a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both; or at least one year (and up to ten years) in prison.
Schedule IV CDS
Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both; or at least one year (and up to five years) in prison.
Schedule V and VI CDS
Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both.
Continuing Criminal Enterprise
Harsher penalties apply to defendants who engage in a “continuing criminal enterprise." This includes defendants who organize or lead a group of people who make a specified amount of profits over the period of one year (or longer) from making or selling specified CDS.
When gross receipts from the manufacture or sale of specified CDS over any 12 month period are at least $100,000, but less than $250,000, penalties include a fine of up to $1,000,000, at least 20 years (and up to life) in prison, or both.
When gross receipts are $250,000 or more in any 12 month period, penalties include a fine of up to $1,000,000, and life in prison. (Virginia Ann. Code § 18.2-248(H1)&(H2).)
Increased penalties apply to violations committed in drug free zones. This includes violations committed on or within 1,000 feet of school or public property, or a bus stop ; or on a school bus.
In addition to the applicable penalties (described above), a defendant whose violation occurred in a drug-free zone will face an additional fine of up to $100,000, at least one year (and up to five years) in prison, or both. Second and subsequent violations involving a Schedule I, II, or III CDS incur a minimum one year prison sentence to be served consecutively with the applicable penalty described above. (Virginia Ann. Code § 18.2-255.2.)
Talk to an Attorney
CDS manufacture or sale convictions can incur harsh fines and long periods of incarceration. A local lawyer who practices CDS defense will review the facts of your case, explain your options, and advise you of the possible consequences.