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Virginia residents are likely aware that both state and federal laws cover crimes related to drugs. While state laws are narrower, so long as they do not conflict with current federal laws, federal drug laws have the tendency to result in more severe penalties. No matter the type of drug charge you are faced with, it is important to understand the elements of the crime, the details of your charge, the potential consequences and possible defenses.

What are the different types of drug crimes? The most simple or basic drug crime is possessing drug paraphernalia. This refers to any equipment that is used to prepare, inject, inhale or conceal illegal drugs. These commonly include items such as bongs, pipes, rolling papers and syringes. It should be noted that there are a wide variety of legal uses for these items, so being in mere possession of objects deemed drug paraphernalia alone does not automatically mean it is being used for illegal purposes.

Another drug crime is drug possession. This is a common charge faced by defendants charged with drug crimes, and it refers to being in possession of any illicit controlled substance. This commonly refers to marijuana, cocaine or heroin. Depending on the quality and type of drug, a defendant could face a simple possession charge. However, if the defendant is in possession of a large quantity, this could result in a charge of possession with the intent to distribute.

Other drug crimes include drug manufacturing, drug trafficking and drug dealing. Drug manufacturing relates to being involved in any phase of the production process of an illegal drug. Dug trafficking refers to the selling, transportation and importation of a controlled substance. This typically includes the transportation of a large amount of illegal drugs. Finally, drug dealing refers to selling drugs on a smaller scale.

No matter the type of drug crime a defendant is charged with, it is important for them to understand their defense options. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help ensure that a defendant's rights are protected, while also taking steps to reduce or dismiss the charges.

Source: FindLaw, "Types of Drug Crimes," accessed April 30, 2017

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