In Virginia, convictions for Felony Drug Offenses have serious consequences. At Zinicola, Blanch & Overand, we have years of experience dealing with all types of Felony Drug Offenses. Contact us today for a free consultation before making any decision about your case, or read on to learn more:
Felony Drug Possession
A charge for Simple Possession of Cocaine, Heroin, PCP, prescription drugs, or other substances can result in a felony conviction, prison time, and years of supervision by a probation officer. Unlike neighboring jurisdictions, Virginia considers possession of any of these substances to be a Felony, and will often prosecute the possession of miniscule amounts of these drugs.
Many people charged with Felony Drug Possession are not aware of the numerous legal defenses that may arise in even the most common Drug Possession cases. In order for the prosecution to prove your guilt, they must prove that the drugs were in your possession, that the police found the drugs without violating the Constitution, and that the substances found were in fact illegal drugs.
Proving that drugs were in your possession is not as easy as it may sound. Just because drugs are found near you, or in your car or home, does not mean that you can be found guilty of being in possession of them. In most cases, possession is proven either by showing that the drugs were in the defendant’s pocket (or otherwise on your person) or that the defendant admitting possessing them. If neither of these scenarios apply to your case, then it may be difficult for the prosecution to prove possession.
Secondly, the prosecution has to show that the police found the drugs legally. This means the police must show that they had a legal basis for stopping you or your car, that they properly advised you of your Miranda rights before questioning you, and that they had a legal basis for searching you, your car, or your home. If the Police violated the Constitution at any of these steps, then your case will likely be dismissed.
Finally, the prosecution has to prove that the substance at issue is in fact an illegal drug, such as Cocaine, Heroin, PCP, prescription drugs, etc. This cannot be done based on sight, smell, or taste – there must be a chemical analysis of the substance to prove that it is an illegal drug. If this testing is not done, or if it is done incorrectly, your case can be dismissed, as well.
Possession with the Intent to Distribute
Felony Drug Possession with the Intent to Distribute is a more serious offense that simple possession, and is much more likely to result in a prison sentence. Fortunately, there are many defenses to these charges. All of the potential defenses in Simple Possession cases apply to Possession with the Intent to Distribute cases. This means that the police must prove that you possessed the drugs in question, that the police found them legally, and that the substance in question is in fact an illegal drug.
But beyond those defenses, the prosecution must also prove the intent to distribute. In many cases, this element is inferred from the amount of drugs found. This is an offense that is commonly overcharged, based on the Police assuming that anyone with a slightly larger than normal amount of a drug must be selling it, rather than possessing it for their own personal use. Based on the amount found, many officers will automatically infer an “intent to distribute” and charge that person with a more serious offense. In other cases, intent to distribute can be based on other flawed factors, like how the drugs were packaged or the presence of money or scales.
The fact is, there are many factors to consider in cases like these. It is important to hire an attorney who understands how Possession with the Intent to Distribute (PWID) cases really work, and has experience handling these types of cases.
Felony Drug Distribution
A charge for Felony Drug Distribution is a very serious offense in Virginia. Conviction almost always includes active jail/prison time, followed by supervised probation following release.
Having the right attorney on a Felony Drug Distribution offense can be the difference between having your charge reduced to a lesser offense or not, getting an agreed plea bargain with a prosecutor or not, or going to prison or not. At Zinicola, Blanch & Overand, we have experience handling cases involving Felony Drug Distribution to undercover police officers, citizen informants (C.I.), and other types of Felony Drug Distribution. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.