The most common drug charges are colloquially referred to as "simple" possession and possession with intent to distribute. What a person is charged with a state law violation of possession of cocaine heroin Ecstasy or meth it is a class VI felony.. People charged with first offenses of these crimes can very often have an experienced attorney negotiate a result that does not conclude with the accused having a conviction of the felony. The Virginia code explicitly allows for these first offenders to avoid conviction. The court system also has alternative resolution options like drug court, detention and diversion programs. Crafty attorneys can also convince courts to substitute treatment programs in exchange for jail time.
Possession with intent to distribute cocaine heroin and marijuana are also felonies in Virginia. However the penalties for possession with intent to distribute are far more severe. It is important to keep in mind the distribution of narcotics is punished identically to possession with intent to distribute. The practical difference between these two is merely the facts that the Commonwealth uses to arrive at the charge. If the police have evidence or have seen a person actually distributing drugs a defendant may be charge with distribution. If however the police arrest a person in possession of an amount of drugs that are inconsistent with personal use the police will use circumstantial evidence to argue that he alternately intended to distribute those drugs.
There are numerous defenses to possession with intent to distribute. If the defendant was set up using a confidential informant or snitch the attorney will often attack the credibility and motives of that witness; videotape evidence is almost never as clear as the Commonwealth reports it to be. Finally in cases where the Commonwealth insists that the amount is inconsistent with personal use frequently vigorous cross-examination can lead a proposed prosecution expert to acknowledge that certain amounts of narcotics may be consistent with a large scale user.
In addition to these prohibited substances the Commonwealth also frequently charges people with attempted distribution of prescription drugs. Like the other cases, there are a number of viable defenses to this charge. One major issue is that these prescription drugs are often illegal to possess and transport. The Commonwealth has the burden of showing any legal intent to distribute.
Federal drug charges involve many nuances. Penalties in the federal system for drug distribution are controlled by sentencing guidelines and complicated calculations of unique criteria such as "relevant conduct" "attributable drug weight" and the beneficial "safety valve provision."
Drug charges are the most common criminal offense in the Virginia legal system. Any person charged with a drug offense should consider retaining an attorney with a wealth of experience in handling these matters.
Drug crimes can carry heavy penalties and you cannot afford to put an inexperienced attorney on your case. Contact us today to discuss your options with a knowledgeable Virginia Beach criminal attorney!
Vaughan C. Jones