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Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

In a recent case coming out of a Virginia circuit court, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed a lower court’s denial of her motion to suppress. The defendant was originally charged and convicted of drug possession when officers conducted a search of her home; in her motion to suppress, the defendant argued that the officers’ search was unwarranted and that thus the incriminating evidence should have been inadmissible at trial. The court agreed with the defendant that the search was unwarranted, but affirmed her original conviction based on the fact that the officers and judge involved in the search of the property were acting in good faith.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, a detective in Virginia received a tip that a wanted person, one who was known for using methamphetamine, was located at a house nearby. The detective drove to the house along with four other officers, knocking on the door and asking anyone inside to immediately exit the premises. Two men came into the yard, and the officers noticed that one of them smelled strongly of marijuana.

The officers then proceeded to conduct a protective sweep of the home. At the time, the officers explained this “sweep” as a way to make sure no one else was in the home before they left the scene to obtain a search warrant. During the sweep, the officers encountered the defendant in this case, who was one of the residents in the home. Again, officers noticed a strong odor of marijuana on her person.

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In a recent drug-related case coming out of a federal court, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his guilty convictions. The defendant originally pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, but he argued that the evidence of drugs should have been suppressed by the lower court. According to the defendant, the officers that pulled him over conducted an unreasonably long traffic stop, thus infringing upon the defendant’s constitutional rights. The court disagreed with this argument and affirmed the original convictions.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, two police officers in Virginia pulled the defendant over while he was driving one evening after learning that the defendant’s vehicle had an expired registration tag. One officer approached the defendant while his partner looked into the vehicle’s license plate, discovering that it was fictitious.

After contacting police headquarters to confirm the license’s status, the first officer asked his partner to conduct his own inquiry on a laptop as to whether or not the license was expired. The officers continued by asking for the car’s registration, collecting the vehicle identification number, and gathering necessary information from the defendant. In the process, the officers learned that the defendant had a suspended license due to two prior convictions for driving while impaired.

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In a recent case coming out of a Virginia court, the lower court’s ruling in favor of the defendant was reversed. Originally, the trial court had suppressed incriminating evidence found against the defendant. When reviewing this decision, the higher court determined that the motion to suppress should not have been granted, and they reversed the decision, ruling against the defendant in the case.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, an officer received a call one afternoon notifying him of a black car “riding around” and “selling drugs.” While patrolling, the officer found a car matching the description parked next to an apartment complex. When the officer asked several people on the sidewalk if they knew to whom the car belonged, they responded that the driver lived in one of the apartments in the complex. The officer decided to go straight to the apartment to investigate.

A person who did not live in the apartment, but who was babysitting, opened the door for the officer when he approached the unit. When the officer saw the babysitter, he noticed that her eyes were glossy and that she appeared to be very nervous. The officer noticed that behind the babysitter were a small child and a man who appeared to be passed out on the coffee table.

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In a recent drug case coming out of a Virginia court, the defendant’s appeal of his guilty conviction was denied. In his appeal, the defendant argued that the evidence used against him at trial was legally insufficient, given that the trial court considered evidence of a prior conviction as support for the sentencing in this second offense case. Disagreeing with the defendant, the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was charged with the intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl as a second offense. The defendant’s first offense occurred in 2001 when he was convicted of possession with the intent to distribute imitation cocaine.

At the defendant’s trial for this second charge, he filed a motion asking the court to exclude evidence of the first offense. The defendant knew that if the court included evidence of the prior offense, he would potentially receive an enhanced penalty for the second offense. According to the defendant, the two crimes were not substantially similar, so they should not be reviewed in the same trial. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion and ended up convicting the defendant of a second offense.

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In a recent drug case in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the higher court affirmed the lower court’s decision to find a husband and wife guilty of distribution and possession of drugs. After the defendants were found guilty, they appealed their verdict, but the court rejected their arguments and affirmed the original verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the two defendants in this case were a married couple who were convicted of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a variety of controlled substances. They were also found guilty of distribution and possession with intent to distribute more than 5 grams of methamphetamine, which is a separate violation under Virginia law. One of the defendants, the husband, was convicted by himself of 16 additional counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute. After the jury issued their guilty verdict, the judge in the case ordered the defendants to forfeit any remaining drugs they possessed and pay a large fine to the court.

The Decision

The defendants appealed their guilty convictions, hoping to minimize the amount of money they were forced to pay as part of their sentence. One of the defendants’ main arguments was that the trial court should not have been willing to accept evidence of firearms and ammunition that police officers found while searching their home. According to the defendants, this evidence did not have anything to do with the drug crimes themselves, and all it did was bias the jury unnecessarily and unfairly.

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Tobacco laws and taxes vary by state, and as a result, most states require cigarettes and other tobacco products to bear a state tax stamp that proves the appropriate taxes have been paid on the product before it can be sold legally in the state. Because prices and taxes can vary so much by state, smugglers can buy cigarettes where they are cheaper and traffic them to sell in a state where they are more expensive for a large profit; however, such activity is a felony under Virginia law. The Virginia Court of Appeals recently affirmed the conviction of a man on charges that he smuggled 4670 packs of unstamped cigarettes discovered during a routine traffic stop.

In the recently decided case, the defendant was pulled over by a Virginia State Police officer on suspicion of having illegally tinted windows. After the stop, police determined that neither the driver nor passenger of the vehicle defendant was traveling in had a valid driver’s license. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the arresting officer noticed what appeared to be drug residue in the defendant’s vehicle and called a canine unit to assist with a search. The canine unit flagged the vehicle for possible drug material, which led the officer to perform a search. Although the search of the vehicle did not uncover any illegal drug material, nearly 10,000 illegal cigarettes were found, resulting in the arrest of the defendant on smuggling charges.

Before trial, the defendant attempted to have the evidence against him suppressed, claiming that the traffic stop was completed by the time the canine unit arrived. He also claimed that because no illegal drugs were found by the canine search, the signal and search were not appropriate. The trial court rejected the defendant’s arguments, finding that the arrival of the canine unit was part of the traffic stop and a reasonable result of the officer noticing what appeared to be drug material in the vehicle. Furthermore, the prosecution noted that because there were no licensed drivers to remove the defendant’s vehicle from the side of the road, the cigarettes would have been found even without the canine unit, as the officers would inventory the vehicle after issuing the defendant citations for driving without a license and illegal window tint.

In a recent drug case coming out of a Virginia court, the defendant’s motion to suppress was denied. The defendant was caught conducting a drug deal after a confidential informant provided his name and information to a police officer. On appeal, the defendant argued that the informant identified his identity through an unnecessarily suggestive identification method. Disagreeing with this argument, the court denied the appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was arrested for distribution of a Schedule I or II controlled substance after police officers communicated with a confidential informant who set up a drug buy from the defendant. The police officer that testified at trial said that this particular informant agreed to participate after he had been arrested in a similar controlled buy.

Detailing the process through which he caught the defendant, the police officer testified that he first asked the informant to provide the name of a drug dealer in the area. Once the informant provided this name, the officer conducted an investigation to confirm the identity of the person dealing. Next, he showed the informant a photo of the suspect’s face so that the informant could confirm the identity – at this time, the informant saw a photo of the defendant in this case and confirmed that he knew the defendant to be dealing drugs. From that point forward, it was relatively easy for the officer to find the defendant, arranged a controlled buy, and catch the defendant in a deal.

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In a recent opinion coming from a federal court in the southeast, the defendant’s attempt to challenge the length of his sentence was denied. The defendant had been found guilty of distribution of fentanyl, and he argued on appeal that his resulting sentence was unreasonably long. The court disagreed, keeping his original sentence in place.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was accused of selling drugs to a man who eventually overdosed. The man, who was found unconscious on his bathroom floor, had heroin and fentanyl in his system at the time of his death. Investigators soon learned of the chain of events that led to the man’s death: the defendant in this case had texted the man a few days earlier, bragging that he was in possession of a drug called “China White,” which is a narcotic containing fentanyl. When the defendant told the man about the China White, he bragged that it was very strong and that people were “going out” on the drug.

The man bought drugs from the defendant twice over a period of two days. The second time, the man asked the defendant for only half a gram of the drug, but the defendant encouraged him to purchase a whole gram. After taking the drug, the man overdosed and died immediately. His roommate found him on the floor when she came home from work later in the day.

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In a recent drug case in Virginia, the court decided that despite some arguments to the contrary, a defendant had conspired to distribute methamphetamine. Originally, the defendant had argued that she was only guilty of one single incident of drug dealing and that one incident did not constitute an entire “conspiracy.” The court disagreed, affirming her guilty verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, an undercover police officer pretending to be a drug dealer began a text exchange with someone he suspected of dealing methamphetamine. The officer and the suspect arranged to meet at a Dollar General store to trade a Pontiac car for three “8-balls” of meth – the undercover officer said he would provide the car if the suspect provided the meth.

The suspect promptly contacted the defendant in this case and showed her the text exchange with the undercover police officer. The defendant did not have any drugs, but she immediately became interested in acquiring the car. The male suspect, then, agreed to front the defendant the drugs as long as he was properly reimbursed over time. The pair agreed to drive together to the meeting point, and the defendant said she would hold the drugs in her bra. When they arrived at the Dollar General store, the undercover officer was waiting for them. He and two other deputies arrested the pair immediately. At trial a few months later, the defendant was found guilty of indictment against her male counterpart as well as one count of possessing drugs with intent to distribute and one count of conspiracy to distribute drugs.

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Tips given to law enforcement officers by confidential informants are often used to establish reasonable suspicion for a detention or probable cause for a search or arrest. State and federal constitutional protections still play a role in determining the legality of police interactions with the public, even when reliable tips from informants are involved. The Court of Appeals of Virginia recently ruled in favor of the state after a defendant challenged the legality of his detention based on a tip from a confidential informant that he was involved in commercial drug activity.

In the recently decided case, the defendant was arrested and charged with dealing drugs after police were notified of his activity by a confidential informant. Based on the tip from the informant that a man matching the description of the defendant was selling drugs on the street, detectives stopped the defendant for questioning. The defendant was handcuffed and made to wait with the police when a canine drug detection unit arrived. After the canine signaled to police that the man was in possession of narcotics, a search was performed, and police found drugs on him.

The defendant challenged the admission of the drugs at trial against him. He argued that the police did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain him while waiting for the drug dog to arrive. The trial court determined that the defendant’s detention was not an arrest and was instead an investigatory stop. Under Virginia and federal law, police are only required to show reasonable suspicion when making an investigatory stop. The trial court determined that the tip from the confidential informant was reliable enough to give the officers reasonable suspicion to detain him and wait for the dog to arrive. As a result of the decision, the defendant was convicted of the drug offenses and sentenced to three years in prison.

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