Possession of a Controlled Substance in Virginia

All states regulate the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for illegal possession. 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 possession of CDS for personal use only. Illegally making or selling CDS carries different penalties. For more information on illegal CDS manufacture and sale, see Sale 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 possession, 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 possessing -- it will be listed under one of the six schedules.

Penalties for Possessing CDS

It is illegal in Virginia to possess CDS without a valid medical prescription. Penalties vary according to the type and amount of CDS involved in the violation, and whether the offense was a first or subsequent violation.

Schedule I or II

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 ten years) in prison.

Schedule III

Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both.

Schedule IV

Penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months in jail, or both.

Schedule V

Penalties include a fine of up to $500.

Schedule VI

Penalties include a fine of up to $250.

Talk to an Attorney

CDS possession 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.

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