The SABRE legislation, which became effective July 1, 2000, introduced the following changes:
- Mandatory, minimum 20 years incarceration for possession with intent to distribute major quantities of illegal drugs (§18.2-248.H);
- Lower levels of drugs and gross receipts required for qualification as a drug kingpin, as well as a mandatory lifetime imprisonment for larger quantities of drugs (§18.2-248.H1), and a 20 years mandatory minimum penalty for those operating and dealing in lesser quantities of illegal drugs. (§18.2-248.H2);
- Mandatory, minimum 3 years incarceration for drug dealers transporting 1 ounce or more of any Schedule I or II drug or 5 or more pounds of marijuana into the Commonwealth (§18.2-248.01), with a mandatory, minimum 10 years incarceration for a second or subsequent conviction under this statute;
- Mandatory, minimum 3 years incarceration for a third or subsequent felony conviction of drug distribution (§18.2-248.1(d));
- Mandatory, minimum 6 months penalty for illegally selling anabolic steroids (§18.2-248.5.A);
- A stronger "selling drugs to minors" statute eliminates the requirement that to receive enhanced punishment for recruiting juveniles to aid in drug sales, the juvenile must be 3 years the seller's junior (§18.2-255);
- Mandatory, minimum 1 year penalty for a second conviction of selling drugs in a drug-free school zone (§18.2-255.2); and,
- A review of sentencing guidelines, emphasizing more restrictive sanctions and treatment for chronic drug users with previous drug convictions.
Virginia Exile penalties can be added, as eligible, to all drug conviction penalties under SABRE if there is a firearm involved. This means that an additional mandatory minimum 5 years imprisonment can be added to drug convictions when possession of a firearm is involved. (§18.2-308.4 or §18.2-308.2)
Rewards of up to $10,000 are now available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those possessing or dealing in large quantities of drugs, selling drugs to children or operating methamphetamine laboratories. These rewards are offered in cooperation with local crime stoppers programs or the Drug Information Hotline, 1-800-553-3673 operated by the Virginia State Police.
State Police Special Operations Division
A Special Operations Division under the Virginia State Police has been established (§52-8.1:1) and funded to provide a permanent force to assist localities in the eradication of identified illegal narcotics and related crime problems. The Special Operations Division also increases the Commonwealth’s ability to interdict the flow of illegal drugs, and weapons on our roadways. This new division enables the State Police to be responsive to sheriffs’ and chiefs’ of police requests to augment their resources to effectively address localized drug problems or situations that exceed their existing resources.