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Federal Alcohol and Drug Penalties

Federal Alcohol and Drug Penalties

Federal law prohibits the unlawful manufacturing, distribution, use, and possession of controlled substances.

Penalties depend on various factors, including the type and amount of the drug involved, and whether there is intent to distribute. Penalties under federal law range from less than one year to life imprisonment and/or $1,000 to $4 million fines for first offenses. Penalties may include forfeiture of property, including vehicles used to possess, transport or conceal a controlled substance, and forfeiture of Federal benefits, including student loans. A drug conviction may also result in future denial of professional licenses.

Controlled Substances Schedules

Schedule I: The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision. Some Schedule I substances are heroin, LSD, marijuana, GHB, MDMA (Ecstasy), and methaqualone.

Schedule II: The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Schedule II substances include morphine, PCP, cocaine, methadone, Ritalin, and methamphetamine.

Schedule III: The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in Schedules I and II. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence. Anabolic steroids, codeine and hydrocodone with aspirin or Tylenol, Ketamine, and some barbiturates are Schedule III substances.

Schedule IV: The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule III. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule III. Included in Schedule IV are Darvon, Talwin, Equanil, Valium, Rohypnol, and Xanax.

Schedule V: The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule IV. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule IV. Over the-counter cough medicines with codeine are classified in Schedule V.

Penalties

The law prescribes ranges of permissible penalties upon conviction. As required by the Federal Safe and Drug-Free Communities and Schools Act of 1994, the pertinent state laws, including sanctions for their violation, are summarized below:

  1. Possession of a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II of the Drug Control Act, upon conviction, exposes the violator to a felony conviction for which the punishment is a term of imprisonment ranging from one to ten years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for up to twelve months and a fine up to $2,500, either or both.
  2. Possession of a controlled substance classified in Schedule III of the Drug Control Act, upon conviction, exposes the violator to a misdemeanor conviction for which the punishment is confinement in jail for up to twelve months and a fine up to $2,500, either or both.
  3. Possession of a controlled substance classified in Schedule IV of the Drug Control Act, upon conviction, exposes the violator to a misdemeanor conviction for which the punishment is confinement in jail for up to six months and fine up to $1,000, either or both.
  4. Possession of a controlled substance classified in Schedule V of the Drug Control Act, upon conviction, exposes the violator to a misdemeanor conviction for which the punishment is a fine up to $500.
  5. Possession of a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II of the Drug Control Act with the intent to sell or otherwise distribute, upon conviction, exposes the violator to a felony conviction for which the punishment is imprisonment from five to forty years and a fine up to $500,000. Upon conviction, the violator must be imprisoned for not less than five years, but may suffer life imprisonment, and a fine up to $500,000.
  6. Possession of a controlled substance classified in Schedules III, IV, or V of the Drug Control Act or an imitation controlled substance which imitates a controlled substance classified in Schedule III, IV, or V, except for an anabolic steroid classified in Schedule III constituting a violation of Virginia Code ¤18.2-248.5, with the intent to sell or otherwise distribute, upon conviction exposes the violator to a misdemeanor conviction for which the punishment is confinement in jail for up to one year and a fine up to $2,500, either or both.
  7. Possession of marijuana, upon conviction, exposes the violator to a misdemeanor conviction for which the punishment is confinement in jail for up to thirty days and a fine up to $500, either or both. Upon a second conviction, punishment is confinement in jail for up to one year and fine up to $2,500, either or both.
  8. Possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana with the intent to sell or otherwise distribute, upon conviction, exposes the violator to a misdemeanor conviction for which the punishment is confinement in jail for up to one year and a fine up to $2,500, either or both. If the amount of marijuana involved is more than one-half ounce to five pounds, the crime is a felony with a sanction of imprisonment from one to ten years, or in the discretion of the jury or court trying the case without jury, confinement in jail for up to one year and a fine up to $2,500, either or both. If the amount of marijuana involved is more than five pounds, the crime is a felony with a sanction of imprisonment from five to thirty years.
  9. Notwithstanding the aforesaid provisions, Rohypnol shall be deemed to be listed on Schedule I for the purposes of penalties for violations of the Drug Control Act. Any person knowingly manufacturing, selling, giving, distributing, or possessing Rohypnol shall be punished under the penalties prescribed for other Schedule I controlled substances.

Federal law also penalizes the manufacture, distribution, possession with intent to manufacture or distribute, and simple possession of drugs (“controlled substances”) [Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. §§841, 843(b), 844, 846, 859, 860, 861, 862]. The law sets the following sentences for first-time offenders:

  • A minimum of ten years without parole (twenty years if death or serious bodily injury results) and a maximum of life imprisonment, a fine not to exceed the greater of $10,000,000 or other applicable penalties, or both, for the knowing or intentional manufacture, distribution, or possession with intent to manufacture or distribute, of large amounts of heroin (1 kilogram), cocaine (5 kilograms), “crack” (280 grams), phencyclidine (“PCP”) (100 grams or 1 kilogram of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of PCP), LSD (10 grams), N-phenyl-N-[1-(2-phenylethyl)-4- piperidinyl] propanamide (400 grams) or its analogues (100 grams), methamphetamine (50 grams or 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing detectable amount of methamphetamine), or marijuana (1,000 kilograms or more or 1,000 or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight);
  • A minimum of five years without parole (twenty years if death or serious bodily injury results) and a maximum of forty years imprisonment, a fine not to exceed the greater of $5,000,000 or other applicable penalties, or both, for similar actions involving smaller amounts of heroin (100 grams), cocaine (500 grams),“crack” (28 grams),PCP (10 grams or 100 grams of a mixture or substance containing detectable amounts), LSD (1 gram), Nphenyl-N-[1-(2-phenylethyl)-4-piperidinyl] propanamide (40 grams) or its analogues (10 grams), methamphetamine (5 grams or 50 grams of a mixture or substance containing detectable amounts), or marijuana (100 kilograms or more or 100 or more marijuana plants regardless of weight);
  • A maximum of twenty years imprisonment (a minimum of twenty years and maximum of life if death or serious bodily injury results), a fine not to exceed the greater of $1,000,000 or other applicable penalties, or both, for actions involving any amount of controlled substances such as heroin, morphine, LSD, GHB, PCP, amphetamines or peyote (except as provided above);
  • A maximum of five years imprisonment, a fine not to exceed the greater of $250,000 or other applicable penalties, or both, for similar actions involving smaller amounts of marijuana (less than 50 kilograms, except in the case of 50 or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight), hashish (10 kilograms), hashish oil (1 kilogram), or any amounts of prohibited anabolic steroids, and many barbiturates;
  • A maximum of one year imprisonment, a minimum fine of $1,000, or both, for knowing or intentional possession of any controlled substance. The gift of a “small amount” of marijuana is subject to the penalties for simple possession
  • A maximum of four years imprisonment, a fine not to exceed the greater of $250,000 or other applicable penalties, or both, for knowingly or intentionally using the mail, telephone, radio, or any other public or private means of communication to commit acts that violate the laws against the manufacture, sale, and possession of drugs.

Penalties may be doubled, however, when an individual at least 18 years old (1) distributes a controlled substance to a person under 21 years of age; (2) employs, uses, induces, or coerces any person under 18 to violate federal drug laws or to assist the individual to avoid detection for his or her own violations of federal drug laws; (3) receives a controlled substance from a person under 18 years of age who is not an immediate family member; or (4) regardless of the individual’s age, distributes, possesses with intent to distribute, or manufactures a controlled substance in or on, or within one thousand feet of, the real property comprising a public or private elementary, vocational, or secondary school, a public or private college, junior college, or university, or a playground, or housing facility owned by a public housing authority, or within one hundred feet of a public or private youth center, public swimming pool, or video arcade facility. A term of imprisonment for these offenses shall not be less than one year, except in certain situations involving five grams or less of marijuana.

Penalties may be tripled when an individual who is at least 21 years old knowingly and intentionally employs, uses, induces, or coerces a person who is under 18 years of age to (1) distribute, possess with intent to distribute, or manufacture a controlled substance in or on, or within one thousand feet of, the real property comprising a public or private elementary, vocational, or secondary school, a public or private college, junior college, or university, or a playground, or housing facility owned by a public housing authority, or within one hundred feet of a public or private youth center, public swimming pool, or video arcade facility or (2) assist in avoiding detection or apprehension for violations of the law prohibiting distribution, possession with intent to distribute, or manufacture of controlled substances near these protected locations. A person who is at least 18 years old who violates the prohibitions on employing persons under 18 to violate federal drug laws or assist in avoiding detection by knowingly providing or distributing a controlled substance to any person under 18 years of age is subject to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or a fine of not more than $50,000, or both, in addition to any other authorized punishment. In addition to fines and prison sentences, courts, at their discretion, may deprive drug offenders of federal benefits—including direct and government-guaranteed student loans and work-study wages. Persons convicted for the first time of possessing a controlled substance can lose their federal benefits for up to one year, and first-time distribution offenders can be deprived of benefits for up to five years. Any attempt or conspiracy to commit one of the above federal offenses, even if unsuccessful, is punishable by the same sentence prescribed for that offense. State and federal law thus make crimes of many different activities involving drugs. Simple possession, giving, or even merely offering drugs is illegal, as are such offenses as the manufacture or sale of drugs. Actual penalties imposed depend on the severity and the circumstances of the offense and the character and background of the offender.