An Overview of Crack Cocaine and Current Virginia Sentencing Guidelines

Crack cocaine is the highly addictive, freebase form of cocaine. In general, this drug is either smoked or injected. While the use of crack is still an issue in Virginia, the drug's popularity peaked in the 1980s. Crack use has been found to cause the following behaviors, reactions and side-effects:


  • Euphoria

  • Supreme confidence

  • Loss of appetite

  • Insomnia

  • Alertness

  • Increased energy

  • Paranoia

  • Depression

  • Paranoid psychosis

  • Hallucinations (auditory or visual)

  • Ekbom's syndrome (the belief that insects are under or on the skin)

  • High fever

  • Vertigo

  • Tremors or twitches

  • Delirium

  • Heart attack

  • Violent behavior

  • Anxiety

  • Seizures

  • Inability to breathe

  • Death


There is no doubt that crack cocaine is a dangerous drug. However, many believe it is unfair that crimes related to crack are punished more severely than those involving powder cocaine.


High Sentences for Those Found Guilty of Crack Cocaine Use or Distribution in Virginia


Many believe that crack cocaine has contributed to exceedingly high rates of crime and violence in Virginia and the United States as a whole. In reaction to this, lawmakers set guidelines for crack cocaine sentencing in Virginia extremely high for anyone convicted of using or distributing the drug. However, it was soon found that the people being arrested for crack related crimes were predominately impoverished African Americans. Those involved in crimes related to powdered cocaine were more often white.


In order to right this wrong, the Fair Sentencing Act was passed in 2010, bringing the discrepancy between sentencing in crack and powder cocaine down from 100:1 to 18:1. The change was applied retroactively, leading to the early release of thousands of inmates in jail on crack cocaine related charges.

The staff and attorneys at Tavss Fletcher hope that the information in this article will help you better understand some of the issues surrounding crack cocaine and the Virginia Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. If you or a loved one have been affected by the unfair sentencing standards in Virginia, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced Virginia Beach criminal law lawyers. You have rights; ensure they are protected. Call 757.625.1214 for a free consultation.