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What determines felony or misdemeanor drug charges and penalties

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2020 | Drug Charges |

Penalties for possession of controlled substances in West Virginia are relatively lenient compared to those in other states.

People who face charges of possession of controlled substances in West Virginia may be able to avoid jail time depending on the circumstances.

Misdemeanor and felony drug charges

Courts determine the difference between simple possession and possession with intent to distribute based on circumstance in West Virginia. Simple possession of any amount of any controlled substance in West Virginia is a misdemeanor.

When authorities determine that someone possesses enough of a substance to sell it, they usually charge the defendant with a felony. Possession with intent is a felony for Schedule I through IV controlled substances. These drug schedules cover heroin, marijuana, oxycodone, ketamine, Xanax and Valium, plus several others. For Schedule V drugs, such as cough medications with codeine, possession with intent is a misdemeanor, according to the West Virginia legislature.

Penalties for drug convictions

A misdemeanor drug conviction carries potential penalties of up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Someone who has no prior convictions for any drug crimes may qualify to pursue a “conditional discharge” after the first offense for drug possession.

Penalties for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver may include a one- to 15-year prison sentence. The ultimate length of the sentence depends largely on inmate conduct. Inmates who stay out of trouble during incarceration may be eligible for parole in as little as one year.

According to the West Virginia Legislature, the state has introduced drug courts and other alternative programs for offenders in recent years. Such alternative programs receive strong support from the public and the courts.