In Virginia, the manufacture or cultivation of drugs is an offense that is severely punishable under the law. The crime is prosecuted as a felony and attracts a mandatory jail time, hefty fines, and other associated consequences for felony drug convictions. However, if you are accused of drug manufacturing, your lawyer can provide various defenses that can result in dropped or reduced charges. If you are in Fairfax or Northern Virginia and you or a loved one faces these serious charges, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Call our Virginia Criminal Attorney team, and we shall work on your defense.

An Overview of Laws on Manufacturing of Drugs in Virginia

The statute that punishes drug manufacturing in Virginia is Code 18.2-248. The code states that it is unlawful for anybody to manufacture, give, sell, possess, or distribute controlled substances or drugs or any imitation of controlled substances.

The penalties for drug manufacturing are severe, but they partially depend on the substances in question. However, even when one imitates a controlled substance, they are likely to face severe penalties. The penalties are also subject to the quantities of drugs in question. If a person is found to have manufactured vast amounts of drugs, the penalties are higher.

If you are found to be manufacturing the following drugs, the offense is a felony that is punished with fines running to $1 million and a five year prison time or life imprisonment:

  • A controlled substance of 100 grams and above that contains detectable amounts of heroin.
  • A substance or a mixture that is 500 grams and above that contains detectable amounts of the following:
  1. Coca leaves (apart from where coca leaves extracts) where cocaine or ecgonine and their derivatives and salts are removed
  2. Cocaine, its extracted salts, geometric and optical isomers, various salts or
  3. A compound, concussions or preparations that have any amount of the above substances or
  4. A mixture of 250 grams and above that has a cocaine base
  • Methamphetamine amounting to 10 grams and above, its subsequent salts and isomers, a content of 20 grams and above that contains detectable methamphetamine and its salts, or isomers.

The offense of manufacturing drugs carries severe punishments under Virginia law. Some of the penalties will include mandatory jail time of at least five years as well as other sentences.

However, a defendant can avoid mandatory jail time if the court finds out that:

  • The defendant holds no prior drug convictions
  • Was not violent, did not use threats or does not have a dangerous weapon associated with the criminal offense
  • The defendant was not the leader or organizer of the violation and is not involved in a continuous illegal business
  • The defendant was cooperative in giving honest information as well as evidence with regards to the offense
  • No death happened as a result of the offense

The Law on Methamphetamine Manufacture Section 18.2-11(d)

If a person is charged with the manufacture of methamphetamines, the minimum prison sentence can be more severe. The law indicates that any person found manufacturing methamphetamines, isomers, or its salts will be jailed for 10 to 40 years with a fine not exceeding $500,000. If the defendant is a second-time repeat offender, he or she can face ten years in prison or life imprisonment. A third time offender or any subsequent convictions will automatically carry a life imprisonment sentence.

If a defendant was found manufacturing at least 100 grams, the minimum sentence would be jail time of 10 years to life. If convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine, the defendant may be required to pay for damages to the property owner. In most cases, the manufacture of methamphetamine results in the destruction of property. The court orders restitution to the property owner for this reason.

If the defendant was the owner of the damaged property, they are required to contribute to the government’s Methamphetamine Cleanup Fund. The actual amount demanded will be that of cleanup, removal, or repair of the premises. If it is not possible to come up with an estimate, by default, a sum of $10,000 is charged.

The severity of the crime and its penalties is dependent on several aspects. The crimes are enumerated as follows from the less severe to the more critical offenses or violations.

Continuous Criminal Enterprise Section18.2-248(l)

An individual is said to be engaged in a continuously criminal enterprise when:

  • The person participates in a felony offense under this section as well as either of the following:
  1. The violations are part of an ongoing series of crimes under code 18.2-248 committed by the same individual with five others. The offender should also be in charge of the operation or is in a supervisory position, and earns more from the enterprise owing to his or her position
  2. The violation involves methamphetamine or schedules I and/or II of controlled substances with a connection to benefit a street criminal organization.

Controlled Substance Schedule I or II – Code 18.2-248(c)

When a person is found guilty of manufacturing, selling, giving, possession, or distribution of controlled substances, they face serious charges. If the substances are controlled other than methamphetamine, the person will face felony charges. These will include severe penalties of between 5 years and 40 years imprisonment in addition to a fine not exceeding $500,000.

If the person has a previous conviction of the same offense and is once again found guilty, the penalties are more severe. The felony charges will attract a jail time of 5 years to life in addition to a fine not exceeding $500,000. Additionally, the defendant also faces the mandatory three-year imprisonment under this section.

If the same person has two previous convictions of the same offense, the person faces a minimum of ten years of prison time to life imprisonment. A fine not exceeding $500,000 is also charged. Additionally, the individual risks an extra enhanced penalty that is mandatory of 10 years imprisonment, according to section 18.2-248(c).

Should a person be found guilty of manufacturing, distributing, or selling of controlled substances under schedule I or II, the individual will face felony charges. They also risk five years in prison to life, a fine not exceeding $ 1 million, as well as an increased penalty of five years imprisonment.

The guidelines of the substances that will attract these kinds of penalties are as discussed above.

If the defendant can prove that he or she gave, possessed, or distributed on behalf of another person, they attract lesser charges. This was when the defendant had no expectations of profiting out of it or of making the other individual an addict of a controlled substance. In this case, the defendant is only guilty of a felony in class 5 found under section 18.2-248(d).

If this is the case, the defendant will face felony charges that have a penalty of between one year and ten years behind bars. However, at the prerogative of the court or jury, the person can get lesser penalties not exceeding one year jail time or a cash fine of not more than $2,500 or both. This is found under section 18.2-10(e).

If a person is found with a prescription already filled by a pharmacist, they could face charges. This is usually before the pharmacist receives a written prescription. If an authorization was given to the pharmacist to service the prescription and he/she receives the written prescription in a week from the time of filling it, the violations become a lesser charge of a class 4 misdemeanor. This directive is under section 18.2-248(e), where the individual is fined a cash sum of not more than $250.

Controlled Substances Schedule II and IV – Section 18.2-248(e1)-(e3)

A person can be convicted of manufacturing, selling, distributing, or possession of a Schedule III substance that is controlled and is not anabolic steroids. An individual is said to be guilty of a felony in class 5. This is found under section 18.2-248(e1). Here, the person will face jail time of one to ten years or on the prerogative of the jury or court, be jailed for not more than a year. This sentence can be in addition to a fine not exceeding $2,500 or either under section 18.2-10(e).

Should a person be charged with this crime according to schedule IV for controlled substances, they will be deemed guilty of a felony in class 6. The sentencing of this conviction is between one and five years behind bars. However, the individual can be sentenced to one year of prison time at the discretion of the court or jury. Additionally, the defendant can be fined not more than $2,500 or either. The fines are according to section 18.2-248(E2);18.2-10(f).

A defendant can be able to show proof that they only gave, possessed, or distributed according to schedule III and IV to accommodate another person. The penalties are prescribed under the condition that the other individual:

  • Is not a prisoner
  • Did not expect to profit
  • Did not intend to cause addiction

When this is established, the defendant will be found guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor under section 18.2-248(e3). It carries a sentence not exceeding one year jail time with a cash fine of not more than $2,500 or either, under section 18.2-11(a).

Controlled Substance Schedule V and VI – Section 18.2-248(f)

If a person is accused of manufacturing, selling, distribution, giving, and possession of controlled substances under Schedule V and VI, the person will be charged with a misdemeanor. The punishment for this offense is up to one year jail time with a cash fine of not more than $2,500 or either. These penalties are stipulated under Sections 18.2-11(a); 18.2-248(f).

Volume Dealers

The manufacture of larger quantities of controlled substances attracts more substantial penalties. If you are found manufacturing the amounts below, you are likely to face mandatory jail time of twenty years in the minimum with a possibility of life imprisonment:

  • A substance or a mixture of a controlled substance that has detectable heroin amounts and the substance is one kilo and above
  • A mix of a controlled substance or a substance that has cocaine, isomers, cocaine salts, and derivatives that is 5 kilos and above. Additionally, controlled substances that are 2.5 kilos and contains cocaine base also attract this penalty.
  • Substances or a mixture of elements that contain marijuana in detectable amounts and the contents are 100 kilos and above.
  • 100 grams and above of methamphetamine or
  • Substances that have methamphetamine in detectable amounts and are 200 grams and above.

An individual can be convicted of manufacturing, selling, distribution, or being in possession of the above quantities. In addition to the jail time, they are fined up to $1 million. Additionally, a mandatory enhanced sentence of up to 20 years in prison, according to Section 18.2-248(h), is given.

However, the law under Section 18.2-248(h)(5), indicates that a person can avoid serving the enhanced prison penalty if:

  • The defendant holds no prior convictions of violent nature, as described under Section 17.2-805.
  • During the offense, no person died, or a person experienced no severe injuries
  • The defendant was not in a leadership position, the planner, and the supervisor or a management position over others when the offense occurred. Additionally, the defendant is not engaged in a continuous criminal enterprise, as described under Section 18.248(l).
  • The defendant used no threats or violence; neither did they have in their possession dangerous weapons that assist in committing the crime.
  • The defendant cooperates with the state and gives it all the necessary evidence concerning the offense to aid in the prosecution of other similar crimes.

According to Section 18.2-248(h1), a person faces a conviction of 20 years to life for a felony tt in addition to mandatory twenty-year jail time and $1 million fine if:

  • The person is the major or among the primary organizers or leaders of the criminal enterprise 1 to 5 kilos of substances that had heroin in detectable amounts
  • 5 to 10 kilos of materials that contained coca leaves, cocaine or ecgonine in detectable amounts
  • 5 to five kilos of substances containing cocaine base
  • Between 100 and 250 kilos of substances that have marijuana in detectable amounts
  • 2 to 1 kilo of substances containing methamphetamine in detectable quantities.
  • Within one year, the organization received returns of between $100,000 and $250,000 as a result of manufacturing, distributing or importing of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecgonine or marijuana
  • The person was involved in the production, distribution, and possession of:

According to Section 18.2-248 (h2), a person will face conviction of a felony with life imprisonment as a penalty and no probability of parole in addition to a cash fine of $1 million when:

  • The person is or is part of the lead organizers and managers of a continuous criminal enterprise
  • Within 12 months, the income for the enterprise was over $250,000 as a result of the manufacture, selling, and distribution of controlled substances. Additionally, the revenue would be as a result of the importation of ecgonine, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, or marijuana.
  • If the person is part of and actively involved in the manufacturing, selling, and distribution of the below-controlled substances:
  1. Five kilos and above of substances containing heroin in detectable quantities
  2. Ten kilos or more of substances containing coca leaves, ecgonine or cocaine in detectable quantities
  3. Five kilos and above of substances that have a cocaine base such as crack
  4. 250 kilos or more of substances that contain traceable amounts of marijuana
  5. 250 grams and above of methamphetamine or
  6. One kilo of a substance that has detectable amounts of methamphetamine.

However, should the court believe that the defendant was cooperative with the law enforcers, the court may decide to reduce the penalties from that of life imprisonment to forty years of prison time. This is according to Section 18.2-248(h2).

Subsequently, if a person is found in possession of two or more  ingredients necessary in the manufacture of methamphetamine, they will be charged under Section 18.2-248(j). The ingredients are evidence of intentions to manufacture methamphetamine, methcathinone, or amphetamines. The person is deemed guilty of a Class 6 felony. If this is the case, the person faces a conviction of between one and five years imprisonment. However, at the prerogative of the court or jury, the person can be convicted for lesser charges that attract a penalty of not more than a year in jail. Additionally, a fine not exceeding $2,500 will be charged or either under section 18.2-10(f).

Possible Defenses

When charged with the crime of manufacturing drugs, your criminal defense lawyer will investigate the case and come up with the most appropriate defenses for you. Every prosecutor will make you think that cutting a deal is the best option for you. Before you accept any agreement, make sure you consult your attorney. Some of the common legal defenses your lawyer may use include:

  • The search into the premises of the defendant was unlawful as well as the seizure of the items
  • There was reported police misconduct
  • Your lawyer may challenge the prosecution to identify the said illegal substance
  • Your lawyer may challenge the alleged amount of the product seized

Find an Attorney Near Me

Drug manufacturing charges are serious offenses under the commonwealth of Virginia and carry hefty penalties if one is found guilty. The manufacture, sale, and distribution, as well as possession of controlled drugs, attracts severe penalties regardless of the volume.  If you find yourself or a loved one facing drug manufacturing charges and you are in Fairfax or Northern Virginia, get in touch with a criminal lawyer immediately. Contact the Virginia Criminal Attorney team for a consultation, and we will be happy to guide you as we prepare your defense. Call us today at 703-718-5533, and we shall gladly schedule an appointment with you.