Most people in Virginia understand that drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine are highly addictive and dangerous. Therefore, the possession and sale of such drugs is illegal and those who violate the law can expect harsh punishments. This is especially true if a person is in possession of or intends to sell a large amount of these drugs.
For example, under Virginia law, a person can expect a fine of up to $1 million and a prison sentence of five years to life, if they sell or possess with intent to sell 100 grams or more of heroin, 500 grams or more of cocaine or 10 grams or more of meth. However, while five years is the minimum mandatory sentence for such drug crimes, there are exceptions that would make the mandatory minimum sentence inapplicable.
One exception is if the accused does not have a prior conviction for certain violent crimes. Another exception is if the accused did not commit a violent act, threaten to commit a violent act or possess a dangerous weapon in connection to the alleged offense. A third exception is if no one suffered serious bodily injury or died in connection to the alleged offense. A fourth exception is if the accused was not a leader of others in connection to committing the alleged offense, nor were they part of a continuing criminal enterprise. Finally, the accused must have truthfully provided the Commonwealth the information and evidence the accused has with regards to the alleged offense.
So, while it is important to understand that drug charges can result in serious penalties, there are ways these penalties can be mitigated. Therefore, those accused of drug offenses will want to ensure they have a solid criminal defense strategy that takes these exceptions into account where appropriate. Since this post does not provide legal advice, seeking professional guidance is often a good step to take.