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People in Virginia who are facing drug charges need to understand the potential penalties they will face in the event they are convicted. This is especially true given the way state and federal law enforcement officials are actively enforcing laws regarding drug possession and the selling of drugs. With that in mind, it's imperative to know what can happen if there is a conviction.

For a first offense in which the charges involve the sale, manufacture, distribution, giving or possession of Schedule I and II drugs like cocaine or marijuana with the intent of sale or distribution, it will result in no less than five years incarceration and not greater than 40 years. The fine levied will not be greater than $500,000. For drug trafficking of 100 or more grams of heroin, 500 or more grams of cocaine, 250 grams or more of cocaine base or 10 grams or more of methamphetamine, there can be a sentence of five years to life in prison and a fine of no more than $1 million.

While the debate is ongoing in the U.S. as to whether marijuana should be legalized, it is still currently illegal in the state of Virginia. For those possessing not more than one-half ounce, there will be a sentence of no more than 12 months in jail and a fine of no more than $2,500. Possession of more than one-half ounce, but less than five pounds, there can be a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $2,500. Possession of over five pounds of marijuana will result in no less than five years in prison and no more than 30 years. Finally, the manufacturing of marijuana will result in no less than five years and no more than 30 years in prison and a fine that won't surpass $10,000.

If drugs are sold on school grounds, public recreation areas, public libraries and other designated areas, this will result in a felony charge with a prison sentence of no less than one year and no more than five years. The fine will be for no more than $100,000. Those who are facing drug charges will have a great deal to consider. With the serious consequences possible, it may be wise to seek legal advice.

Source: hr.vt.edu, "Virginia Drug Penalties," accessed Nov. 24, 2014

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