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When does drug possession become a felony?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2024 | Major Drug Charges |

Drug possession charges can have serious consequences, sometimes escalating to the point of entailing felony-level penalties. Understanding when possession becomes a felony is important for forming your legal defense.

In Virginia, the severity of the offense depends largely on the type and amount of the controlled substance involved.

Types of controlled substances

The classification of drugs plays a significant role in whether possession a felony offense. Controlled substances fall into different schedule categories based on factors such as their potential for abuse and accepted medical use. Virginia legal code specifies that possession of Schedule I or II drugs, like heroin and LSD, is grounds for a felony charge and harsh penalties.

Quantity matters

The quantity of the controlled substance in possession is another key factor. Small amounts for personal use may lead to misdemeanor charges, while larger quantities may escalate the offense to a felony. Law enforcement typically distinguishes between simple possession and possession with intent to distribute based on the quantity of drugs involved.

Aggravating factors

Certain circumstances can elevate a drug possession charge to a felony. Possession near a school, park or other designated areas may result in harsher penalties. Additionally, having a prior criminal record or being on probation or parole might increase the likelihood of facing felony charges.

Repeat offenses

Repeat offenses can significantly impact the severity of drug possession charges. A second or subsequent offense may escalate the charge to a felony, even if the initial offense was a misdemeanor. Legal systems often take a stricter stance on individuals with a history of drug-related offenses.

Drug possession can ultimately become a felony based on the type and quantity of the controlled substance. Understanding the nuances of these factors is part of making informed decisions and avoiding the serious consequences associated with felony drug possession charges.