Understanding Richmond Drug Charges

Understanding Richmond drug charges can be difficult due to the many elements involved. Fortunately, a seasoned drug attorney may be able to help clarify these elements and any charges leveled against you. You have constitutional rights, and there are different penalties for different level drug offenses. If you are facing drug charges, call today to schedule a consultation on your case.

Prohibited Substances Under Richmond Drug Laws

There are numerous behaviors that are prohibited by drug laws in Richmond but the basic and main behaviors that are going to be prohibited by drug laws are the use, possession, or distribution of any scheduled substance or marijuana.

The Virginia Drug Control Act schedules numerous drugs. Essentially, any drug that falls into one of the Schedules I through VI or marijuana constitutes a drug or an illegal substance that a person can be prosecuted for. For a better understanding of Richmond drug charges, consult with a knowledgeable lawyer.

Are There Exceptions for Drug Possession?

Medical marijuana is permitted in Virginia, but there are some caveats. If a person is prescribed a Schedule I, II, III, IV, V, VI drug, or marijuana, then the person can possess the drug and use it with a valid prescription. Distribution of that drug by the patient remains illegal. However, certain healthcare professionals like pharmacists or doctors can possess the drugs for the purposes of distribution if they are so licensed.

Medically Approved but Abused Drugs

Scheduled substances that are medically approved but abused are going to be treated depending on the substance as any other scheduled substance. If a person does not have that valid prescription, then the drug is going to be treated as if it was just an illegal drug and will be prosecuted in whatever schedule that drug falls into.

Varying Penalties for Different Schedules

Out of the scheduled drugs, the higher the scheduled number, the lower the penalty. A Schedule VI will be considered a lower schedule than a Schedule I or II and the possession and distribution of a lower-scheduled number is not going to garner the same penalty as a higher-scheduled one. Marijuana is also not prosecuted as harshly as some of the scheduled drugs.

The way in which the Virginia Drug Control Act determines how it schedules drugs essentially flows into why some drugs are scheduled higher and carry more penalties. The Drug Control Act takes into account if the substance has a high potential for abuse and if the substance has an accepted medical use.

A substance that has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use or treatment in Virginia is going to be scheduled higher. For example, heroin is going to be scheduled higher than marijuana, which may not have the highest potential for abuse and does have some accepted medical treatment in the United States. This is in contrast to the Federal scheduling system in which marijuana is considered a higher schedule than drugs like heroin or cocaine.

Constitutional Issues in Drug Cases

The two main constitutional issues in drug cases concern the Fourth and Fifth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment gives a person the right to be free from illegal search and seizure from any state actor. The Fifth Amendment gives a person the right to remain silent and the right to not be questioned without an attorney present.

In all possession, possession with intent to distribute, and distribution cases, the Fourth Amendment is going to be present in some way, shape, or form. Whether it is through a search warrant, an illegal stop, illegal seizure, illegal search, or wherever the drugs are found, the Fourth Amendment is going to be in play. The Fourth Amendment may dictate that certain charges or evidence be thrown out if they were obtained illegally.

The Fifth Amendment’s right to remain silent is also going to come into play depending on if the individual has made statements or not. Whenever statements are made about the location of the drug, location of a place to search, knowledge that a drug is, in fact, a particular substance, or whatever the case may be, the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent is going to come into play when a person is looking to either suppress a search or suppress a statement that can lead to guilty knowledge of individuals.

Call a Drug Lawyer Today

If you have been charged with a drug offense, an experienced drug attorney may be able to help you with understanding Richmond drug charges. You have constitutional rights that must be protected, and a lawyer could help fight for you. Call today for a consultation on your case and to learn about the different levels and types of drug offenses.