An Overview of Cocaine Possession Charges in Virginia
There are few things more stressful than being arrested and charged with a serious crime. In Virginia, cocaine possession is a serious criminal offense. Even if you are only alleged to have a small amount of the controlled substance and you have no previous criminal record, cocaine possession is still a felony. It is punishable by jail time. Here, our Fairfax drug defense lawyers highlight the most important things you need to know about cocaine possession charges in Virginia.
Cocaine is a Schedule II Substance in Virginia
Although cocaine is a banned substance in all states, there are some differences in how possession is punished from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Under Virginia law (Code of Virginia § 54.1-3448), cocaine is listed as a Schedule II banned substance. For reference, this puts it in the same category as a number of other drugs, including opium, codeine, and oxycodone.
Drugs classified as Schedule II in Virginia are viewed as having a considerable potential for abuse and dependence, but also some form of medically accepted use. Being arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a Schedule II banned substance like cocaine is a serious offense. Possession of cocaine is a Class 5 felony—it is punishable by between one and ten years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.
Drug Possession: Defined
Drug possession is defined as having direct control of a controlled substance without the proper prescription. In Virginia, there are two basic forms of possession: actual possession and constructive possession. The more straightforward type of charge is an actual possession charge. It occurs when a person is allegedly caught with cocaine or another banned substance on their person—either in their hands or in their pockets.
Constructive possession is a little more complicated. Constructive possession often requires circumstantial evidence to prove the defendant had both knowledge of and control over the illegal substance. A defendant may be charged with constructive possession of cocaine if the substance is discovered in their vehicle, however Va. Code § 18.2-250 states that ownership or occupancy of premises or a vehicle does not create a presumption that drugs found therein are knowingly or intentionally possessed by the owner or occupier.
Cocaine Possession and Virginia’s Drug Treatment Courts
In recent years, Virginia has embraced the importance of drug treatment as an alternative to strict criminal penalties. Under Code of Virginia § 18.2-254.1, some defendants facing cocaine possession charges may be eligible to enter the Commonwealth’s drug treatment courts. While neither a possibility nor the right approach in every case, drug treatment courts are sensible options for some first-time offenders. If you were arrested for cocaine possession Northern Virginia, you may be able to enter a drug treatment court if:
- You are willing to plead guilty to the offense;
- You get approval from the prosecution; and
- You are not accused of drug trafficking.
Defendants who meet all of the requirements of Virginia’s drug treatment program are often reduced or dismissed outright. At the same time, a defendant is required to plead guilty to possession to enter the program. You should never plead guilty to a serious criminal offense without first consulting with an experienced Fairfax cocaine possession defense lawyer.
Contact Our Virginia Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
At Whitestone Young, PC, our Fairfax criminal defense lawyers have the skills, experience, and expertise to handle the full range of cocaine possession charges. We believe every client deserves aggressive, focused representation. If you or someone you know was arrested for cocaine charges, we can help. To set up a confidential consultation, please contact us today. With an office in Fairfax, we represent people throughout Northern Virginia, including in Alexandria, Arlington, Reston, Annandale, Springfield, and Tysons.