Richmond Drug Charge Lawyer Fights for Your Rights
If you have been arrested and charged with a drug offense in Virginia, you may be facing serious consequences, as many drug charges carry the possibility of a prison sentence. In addition, a conviction means having a criminal record that may forever affect your education, job, housing possibilities, and relationships. A drug charge defense lawyer can be the key to staving off the worst-case scenarios.
Drug Charges in Richmond
With penalties so severe, a drug charge in Virginia is not something you should attempt to fight on your own. If you have been accused of a drug crime, you need a skilled lawyer to fight for your rights and your freedom.
Drug charge attorney Cody Villalon has 12 years of experience successfully fighting for the rights of people who have been accused. He knows the courts, the prosecutors, and the system, and will explore your defense options to negotiate or litigate for a dismissal or a lesser penalty. With penalties so severe, this is not something you should attempt to fight on your own. If you have been accused of a drug crime, you need a skilled lawyer to fight for your rights and your freedom.
Why Call Cody Villalon?
Cody is a hard-working drug charge lawyer in Virginia, a solo practitioner who genuinely cares about his clients’ well-being. He takes a personal interest in every case and never hands his cases off to another attorney. He believes that everyone charged with a crime is guaranteed rights under the law and deserves to be treated with basic human dignity. He will be there for you throughout the entire legal process, addressing your questions and concerns, and aggressively fighting to have your drug charges lowered or dismissed.
How Our Drug Charge Defense Lawyer Can Help You
Virginia drug laws have become somewhat more lenient over the years. For instance, since the summer of 2021, individuals who are 21 and over are allowed to have up to an ounce of marijuana on them plus up to four cannabis plants in their home. However, the fact is that drug charges can still carry serious penalties.
Arrests can be made for drug possession, manufacturing, distribution, or possession with the intent to manufacture or distribute. Even simple possession of many substances can be charged as a felony. However, being arrested and charged with a drug offense doesn’t have to mean you’ll be found guilty. A drug charge defense lawyer will use every law to your advantage so you can put the charge behind you.
Virginia Drug Charge Lawyer
With the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows Virginia criminal and constitutional law, you may have a basis for a drug charge defense that can allow you to obtain a favorable plea bargain agreement, reduce charges to avoid prison, or have your charges dropped completely.
The most important thing to remember is that you have specific rights when it comes to drug charges. There are law enforcement officials that will take advantage of the situation whenever possible. For instance, if you’re tired during questioning, they may try to coerce you into admitting something that is either a complete fabrication or misleading to the situation. When you have a drug charge defense lawyer in Virginia represent you, you can avoid saying something you might regret.
Virginia drug laws are especially strict. Arrests can be made for drug possession, manufacturing, distribution, or possession with the intent to manufacture or distribute. Even simple possession of many substances can be a felony. However, being arrested and charged with a drug offense doesn’t have to mean you’ll be found guilty. With the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows Virginia criminal and constitutional law, you may have a basis for a drug charge defense that can allow you to obtain a favorable plea bargain agreement, reduce charges to avoid prison, or have your charges dropped completely.
When you have drug charge defense lawyer Cody Villalon’s legal team on your side, we will:
- Listen to your story and examine the evidence available. We find the best way to defend you based on the facts of your drug arrest.
- Look for mistakes made by the police or prosecution in the handling of your case or violations of your rights. These are used to strengthen your case so you’re more likely to come out on top.
- Examine police reports and testing and lab reports to see if mistakes were made, or they were done improperly.
- Prepare you for all hearings and court appearances so you know what to expect. When you know how to act and what to say, you’re far less likely to do anything that will hurt your case.
- Ensure all required forms are filed correctly and in a timely manner and that all court appearances and requirements are met.
- Negotiate and plea bargain with prosecutors for a lesser charge.
- Build your defense and take the case to trial if necessary.
Cody Villalon knows that you have many rights under the law, including the right to remain silent and not answer questions by police unless an attorney is present. You have the right to refuse to say anything to incriminate yourself, to confront witnesses against you, to have a public, speedy jury trial, and to be represented by an attorney. We will aggressively fight to make sure your rights are upheld. Call 804.316.0765 to learn more.
Richmond Drug Crimes Lawyer Explains Virginia Drug Laws and Charges
Is It a Controlled Substance?
According to Virginia’s Drug Control Act, (Va. Code § 54.1-3401), a controlled substance refers a drug, substance, or immediate precursor listed according to their potential for abuse, harm, and medical use in Schedules I through VI.
Virginia’s Act reflects the drug classifications used in the federal Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. Schedule I and II offenses are considered to be felonies and are punished the most harshly.
Schedules are as follows:
Schedule I (Va. Code § 54.1-3446) covers substances with a high potential for abuse and no safely accepted medical use. Common Schedule I substances include recreational drugs such as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.
Schedule II (Va. Code § 54.1-3448) covers substances that have a high potential for abuse but do have an acceptable medical use. These drugs may lead to severe psychic or physical dependence, but have currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. These include synthetic opiates and opiates, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone, adderall, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
Schedule III drugs have less potential for abuse, a potential for moderate dependency and an accepted medical use. Anabolic steroids and codeine fall into this category.
Schedule IV drugs have less potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs, a limited potential for dependency, and are accepted in medical treatment. Schedule IV drugs include Valium, Xanax and other tranquilizers and sedatives.
Schedule V drugs have a low potential for abuse, limited risk for dependency and accepted medical uses. These include drugs like cough medicines with codeine.
Schedule VI includes certain substances which are not “drugs” in the conventional sense but are nonetheless used or abused recreationally. These include toluene (found in many types of paint, especially spray paint) and similar inhalants found in many types of aerosol cans.
Schedules III to V include drugs that have less potential for abuse than Schedule I or II and they have more medical purposes, so they include many prescription drugs such as Xanax and Ambien and cough medicines with codeine. Possession without a prescription, or selling, manufacturing, or distributing these drugs and substances are considered criminal acts.
What Are Types of Drug Crimes in Virginia?
The three major types of drug crimes are drug possession, drug distribution, and drug manufacturing.
Drug possession occurs when a person possesses any controlled substance without a valid prescription.
Drug sale or distribution occurs when a person sells, provides, gives away, delivers, or distributes a controlled substance.
Drug manufacturing occurs when a person produces or possesses chemicals used in the manufacture of a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture.
Drug Defense Lawyer Knows Potential Punishments for Drug Crimes
Penalties Vary According to the Circumstances of the Case
According to Virginia law, possession of any controlled substance without a prescription classified in Schedule I or II of the Drug Control Act are a Class 5 felony and carry the stiffest penalty compared to other schedules of drugs. Possession of any Schedule III through Schedule VI controlled substance is charged as a misdemeanor.
Potential penalties depend on the schedule of controlled substance and whether the crime involves possession, sale or distribution, or manufacturing drugs, as follows:
- For Schedule I or II, possession is a Class 5 felony. Penalties include imprisonment of one to 10 years, or jail for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500. If the possession involves simultaneous possession of a firearm on or about the person, there is a mandatory 2-year prison sentence.
- For Schedule III, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with jail for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.
- For Schedule IV, it is a Class 2 misdemeanor, with jail for up to six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
- For Schedule V, it is a Class 3 misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $500.
- For Schedule VI, it is Class 4 misdemeanor with a fine of up to $250.
Intent to Sell or Distribute
- Schedule I or II: is a felony, For the first felony conviction, it’s 5 to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. For a second conviction, it’s no less than 5 years in prison, though there is the possibility of a life sentence in prison. The fine is the same for the first conviction ($500,000), and there is the possibility of life imprisonment. A third offense can carry up to life and a mandatory 10-year prison sentence.
- Intent to sell a Schedule I or II substance with a firearm carries a mandatory 5-year prison sentence.
- Schedules III and IV: These are Class 5 and Class 6 felonies respectively. These are less severe felonies but may still carry jail time or a fine of up to $2,500.
- Schedules V or V1: These substances result in a misdemeanor charge, with jail for up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500.
What Happens If You Overdose in Richmond, VA?
Like all states in the U.S., Virginia law enforcement has been hard at work attempting to sort out the best way to handle drug charges. With more studies on addiction than ever before, the stigma is beginning to fade, which has helped states bring new laws into existence.
This is why under Virginia Code § 18.2-251.03(B)(1)-(3), you are allowed to seek help without necessarily being convicted for either possession or intoxication crimes. The overdose must be reported to either a firefighter, EMS personnel, or other law enforcement officer. Known as affirmative defense, the only catch is that the person reporting the overdose must self-identify. In other words, you must say that you have taken too much of a certain substance, rather than pretending that you are calling on behalf of someone else.
Law Enforcement Search Rights at Public Schools
Law enforcement has the right to search public schools unannounced. They may make periodic visits to different campuses for the express purpose of detecting illegal drugs. It’s common for them to bring dogs who are trained to sniff out different substances. If you were subject to a search, you should not speak to law enforcement without the presence of a lawyer.
Is Drug Paraphernalia Illegal?
It depends on the type of paraphernalia. This topic is covered under Code of Virginia § 18.2-265.1, and it defines the term as materials that can be used to cultivate, harvest, grow, convert, prepare, package, conceal, ingest, or store illegal drugs. A lawyer can help you sort out the items in question and how they fit into the laws in Virginia.
How to Fight a Drug Charge in Virginia
Defense Strategies We Use to Help Your Case
When you are faced with drug charges, it’s important to do everything possible to avoid a conviction. Depending on the circumstances, there are several approaches we can take:
- Awareness: In some cases, there’s no evidence to show that you were aware of the drugs at the time of the charge.
- Violations: Our team can petition the courts if your rights were violated at the time of the search. If they were, we can potentially throw out any evidence that was collected when you were searched. For instance, you might not have had your Miranda rights recited to you. (This information includes your right to both stay silent and have an attorney present during questioning.)
- Possession: People can be charged simply for being near a drug rather than having it on them. We can help you prove that you had nothing on you at the time of the charge.
- Probable cause: Without probable cause, the drug arrest may be considered invalid in the eyes of the law. While law enforcement has the right to search some public areas, there are certain lines that they are not allowed to cross.
- Confirm the lack of evidence that you were aware of the drugs, or that authorities violated your rights during their search of your property for evidence. We can ask the court to throw out any evidence that was gathered during an illegal search.
- You did not have the drug in your actual possession when arrested. We may be able to build a case if you were in the vicinity of a drug but did not actually have it on your person.
- Arresting officers or prosecutors did not do things according to law, such as failing to read you your Miranda rights to remain silent or to have an attorney during questioning.
- There was a lack of reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Without this, your resulting drug arrest can be deemed invalid, and charges against you would be dismissed.
- You qualify for Virginia’s First Offender Program. This program (called a “251 program”) is to rehabilitate rather than punish first-time drug offenders. You must have permission from the judge and will be given a probation period.
- Conversion: You may be able to have your case moved to a specific drug court. These officials deal exclusively with drug-related cases and the process focuses on recovery. You will have to plead guilty and make regular court appearances if you end up going this route.
Lawyer for Drug Charges Answers Questions and Addresses Concerns
Being faced with drug charges is a frightening experience, as the consequences can potentially be severe. It’s natural to have concerns and wonder just what you are up against. Here are some answers to questions Cody Villalon is often asked:
This depends on the circumstances of your arrest. To advise you we would need to understand the entire case and your individual needs. Before you agree to a plea deal, Cody will explain everything involved and tell you whether it was a good idea.
Not every case will get dropped but we will always pursue this option first if available. You may be able to argue that the court should entirely drop your case. Sometimes the Commonwealth will agree to this if they agree a mistake was made or if they can’t prove the charges. Other times it needs to be argued in court. For example, this can happen if you were arrested without probable cause and the evidence against you becomes inadmissible. Alternatively, it could potentially result at the end of a trial or after agreed rehabilitation.
The school is required by law to notify the local law enforcement agency when any student has committed certain offenses, including a controlled substance violation. You will be subject to both school disciplinary action and criminal action, which can include expulsion.
In Virginia, you can be charged with a DUI/DWI while you are under the influence of any controlled substance. The statute says that it is illegal for any person to drive a car while under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug or any combination of such drugs, to a degree which impairs ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle. You can be charged even if you have a valid prescription.
Drug trafficking is the possession of large quantities of illegal drugs associated with sale for profit of the drugs rather than personal consumption.
For you to be charged with drug possession, you simply must be aware of the drugs and have them under your control. However, if officers find illegal drugs in your possession, they will also look for signs that you actually were involved in distribution, such as having large quantities of the drug, or having packaging or scales. In this case, charges and consequences will be increased.
The law enforcement officer will confiscate the controlled substance and charge you with possession of a controlled substance. You should always invoke your right to remain silent.
Legal fees vary, depending on the seriousness of the charges, whether the offense is a felony or misdemeanor, the evidence against you, and the complexity of the case. When you contact Cody Villalon, we will speak to you to find out the facts and review the evidence against you and determine what will be involved to resolve the case. We will then work out a fee structure that allows the time and effort needed to get the best outcome. Consultations are free and you will receive a quote before you proceed.
The Virginia 251 Program
The Virginia 251 Program is for first-time offenders in the state. Those who qualify are essentially given probation. The court sets certain terms and conditions and, once they’re met, can decide to dismiss the case.
The 251 program can only be entered into once and the charge must include possession of a controlled substance. Terms and conditions may include anything from community service to drug tests to maintaining employment to completing a substance abuse program.
Call Cody Villalon for the Best Drug Defense Strategy
Cody Villalon believes that we are guaranteed rights under the law, but they exist only as long as there are people that are willing to defend them. As an experienced Richmond defense lawyer, he is proud of the work he does and will aggressively fight for your rights and the type of world he wants his own children to live in. He provides skilled, aggressive legal representation to ensure that his clients have been treated fairly.
Don’t risk your future. Call us today for a free, confidential consultation if you are facing any type of drug charges and let us show you what we can do to help. Time is of the essence when you are placed under arrest; the sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start working for you and fighting for your rights and freedom.
“If you ever need help look no further, this is the only phone call you need to make. Cody is the best, he goes above and beyond and there’s no one else I’d rather have in my corner fighting for me than him.” – Asher Casazza (Google Review)