Drug possession laws in Virginia are notoriously harsh. If you are found in possession of drugs here, you can expect to be prosecuted within every inch of the law. Having someone on your side during this tough time can make a major difference in your peace of mind and quite possibly the results of your case.

What Constitutes Drug Possession Under Virginia Law?

You don’t have to have drugs in your hands or even your pockets to be criminally charged with possession. The legal definition of possession means you have to have the substance “within your control”. If you can reach it, it’s in your control. And even if you can’t reach it, if it’s in a place that only you have main access to, you can be charged with possession. With this definition, you can see how drugs found in your glove box, on the table next to you, or even in a shoe box under your bed could be attributed to you and result in a drug charge.

Penalties for Possession – Virginia

In Virginia, drugs are classified according to the federal “schedules”. The seriousness of the charge is dependent on this classification, and this classification is dependent on how addictive and dangerous the federal government has determined the substance is.

Possession of a Schedule I Substance

Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous and have no legitimate medical usage.

Examples: This classification includes things like heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and GHB.

Penalty: This is considered a Class 5 felony, which carries a potential 10 years in prison and fines reaching $2,500.

Possession of a Schedule II Substance

Schedule II drugs are still highly addictive and dangerous. Some are occasionally used in the medical field.

Examples: This classification includes cocaine, methamphetamine, morphine, PCP, methadone

Penalty: Like a Schedule I substance, possession of a Schedule II is considered a Class 5  felony and carries up to 10 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

Possession of Schedule III Substances

Schedule III drugs are often prescribed by medical doctors, though they are very addictive.

Examples: Ketamine, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Steroids, and others are all considered Schedule III drugs.

Penalty: This is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries up to 12 months in jail and fines reaching $2,500.

Possession of Schedule IV Substances


These drugs are prescription drugs and have a risk of addiction.

Examples: Valium, Xanax, and Rohypnol are all considered Schedule IV drugs, though there are many more.

Penalty: If convicted of this offense, you face Class 2 misdemeanor penalties and up to 6 months in jail with $1,000 in fines.

Possession of Schedule V Substances

Schedule III substances are largely cold medications that include codeine.

Penalty: This is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor and carries a fine of $500.

Possession of Schedule VI Substances

Schedule VI substances are those that have the least risk of addiction, if any at all.

Penalty: This is a Class 4 misdemeanor charge and carries a fine of up to $250.

Ref: VA Criminal Statutes §18.2-250

For marijuana possession charges and penalties, see our Virginia Marijuana Possession page.


Just how you fight a possession charge largely depends on the case against you. Your defense lawyer may challenge the arrest or the search that led to the discovery of the drugs. If your rights were violated in any manner, your attorney could move to have the evidence disallowed in court and potentially motion for all charges to be dropped.

The first step in mounting a successful defense is in consulting with a local criminal defense lawyer. Contact us today for legal defense help for any drug possession charge in Virginia.