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Drug charges in Virginia can vary in severity and hinge on certain factors. One issue that should be considered when there is an arrest related to drugs is the location where the drugs were sold or manufactured. The serious consequences that accompany any drug arrest can be worse if the incident occurs in a certain area. Understanding this is a key factor in crafting a defense.

It is a violation of the law if controlled substances, imitation controlled substances or marijuana are manufactured, sold, distributed or possessed with the intention of sale or giving it to another in the following locations: near a public or private school of any kind including a public or private elementary school, secondary school, post-secondary school, public or private two-year or four-year college, university, similar educational institute or any marked and licensed daycare center; a public property or property that is open to the public within 1,000 feet of the above-listed schools or educational locations; a school bus; at a school bus stop or any other location for the public that is within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop when children are being picked up or dropped off; at a publicly or privately owned recreation center or public library and within 1,000 feet of a public or private property state facility that is open to the public.

If this law is violated, it will be a felony. A conviction will result in imprisonment for a minimum of one year and as long as five years. There can be a fine of up to $100,000. If there is a second conviction or more convictions related to drugs that are Schedule I, II or III or having more than a half-ounce of marijuana, there will be a jail sentence of one year that will be served consecutively with another sentence. If the marijuana or the controlled substance was sold to accommodate another and not for profit, it is a Class I misdemeanor.

People who are arrested on drug charges might not know that there are more serious consequences if they violate the subsets of the law related to proximity of certain locations like schools or where children are known to congregate. Regardless of the situation, one of the most important factors in lodging a strong defense, having the charges reduced or even getting an acquittal is having a lawyer qualified in providing defense for drug offenses. This also helps ensure the defendant's rights are protected during the process.

Source: law.lis.virginia.gov, "18.2-255.2. Prohibiting the sale or manufacture of drugs on or near certain properties; penalty.," accessed on Feb. 5, 2017

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