Simple Possession

Possessing certain kinds of drugs in Virginia is considered a felony crime. The types of drugs referred to are generally considered those with a high potential for addiction or abuse, and with little or no restricted medical value. Many of these drugs are ones that can be prescribed, but others are street drugs that are illegal to possess in any and all circumstances.

What is possession? The legal definition of possession means you have to have the substance “within your control” – in other words, if you can reach it, it’s in your control. Even if you can’t reach it, such as if it’s in a place that only you have main access to, you can be charged with possession. You don’t have to have drugs in your hands, or even in your pockets, to be criminally charged with possession. With these facts in mind, it is easy to see how drugs found in your glove box, or on the table next to you, or even in a shoebox under your bed, can be attributed to you and result in a drug possession charge.

What are the penalties? In Virginia drugs are classified according to the federal “schedules”. The seriousness of the charge is dependent on this classification, and these classifications are dependent on how addictive and dangerous the substance(s) found in your possession are deemed to be.

Possession of a Schedule I Substance

Schedule I substances are defined as ones with a high potential for abuse and have no legitimate medical usage. These substances are considered the most dangerous.

  • Examples: Heroin, Ecstasy, LSD, GHB
  • Penalties: Class 5 felony, which carries a potential 10 years in prison and fines of up to $2500.00

Possession of a Schedule II Substance 

Schedule II substances are defined as those that are highly addictive and dangerous, and sometimes used in the medical field.

  • Examples: Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Morphine, PCP
  • Penalties: Class 5 felony, which carries a potential 10 years in prison and fines of up to $2500.00

Possession of a Schedule III Substance

Schedule III substances are often prescribed by medical doctors and they are very addictive.

  • Examples: Ketamine, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Steroids
  • Penalties: Class 1 Misdemeanor, which carries a potential 12 months in prison and fines of up to $2500.00

Possession of a Schedule IV Substance

Schedule IV substances are prescription drugs that have a risk of addiction.

  • Examples: Valium, Xanax, Rohypnol
  • Penalties: Class 2 Misdemeanor, which carries a potential 6 months in prison and fines of up to $1000.00

Possession of a Schedule V Substance

Schedule V substances are largely cold medications which include codeine.

  • Examples: Medications containing 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters
  • Penalties: Class 3 misdemeanor, which carries a potential fine of $500.00

Possession of a Schedule VI Substance

Schedule VI substances are those that have the least risk of addiction, if any at all.

  • Examples: Substances not otherwise listed on a schedule that are restricted to prescription use only
  • Penalties: Class 4 misdemeanor, which carries a potential fine of $250.00


Virginia offers an option for first-time drug offenders to have their case deferred if they meet a set of strict requirements. The program requires either entering a guilty plea or stipulating that enough evidence exists to prove your guilt. Other requirements include:

  • Getting a substance abuse assessment
  • Entering and successfully completing a substance abuse treatment or an educational program, if appropriate based on the assessment
  • Payment of all costs of the program, assessment, and treatment (based on your ability to pay unless the court deems you indigent)
  • Remaining drug and alcohol-free and submitting to random drug tests
  • Getting your fingerprints taken
  • Loss of your driver’s license for 6 months, unless the court allows you to have a restricted license

If any one of these terms is violated, the court will proceed with your case under the guilty plea or stipulation you previously entered.

If you fulfill all of the terms, your case will be dismissed.

Why should I consult an attorney? Being convicted of a felony drug possession can carry serious consequences including years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines and costs, not to mention a criminal record that can affect your ability to get a job or a place to live. Drug cases can be complicated and hinge on legal nuance. Often times a small detail can be the difference in getting your case dismissed, or in having a much less serious misdemeanor conviction instead of a felony. Attorney Paracha will explore the facts of your case and offer the best possible defense options available to you.

If you have been charged with a drug related offense, contact The Paracha Firm immediately for a no-fee consultation.

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