Stay Home - Consult With Us From Your Living Room

Articles Posted in Virginia Case Law

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Virginia drug possession case discussing whether the evidence presented proved that the defendant knew the drugs were in the center console of the vehicle he was driving. Ultimately, the court found that there was insufficient evidence to establish constructive possession, reversing the defendant’s conviction. The case presents a good example of the concept of constructive possession.

According to the court’s opinion, police officers pulled over the defendant for speeding. When the officer approached the car, he smelled marijuana and noticed that the defendant was nervous and sweating. The officers searched the car, finding a small baggie of marijuana in the center console. Also in the center console was a piece of crumpled up notebook paper with a single Oxycodone pill inside. There was no evidence presented regarding who owned the car, how long the defendant had been using the car, or where the marijuana was found in relation to the oxycodone.

At trial, the defendant convicted of possession of marijuana and oxycodone. The defendant appealed his conviction for possession of oxycodone, arguing that there was no evidence suggesting that the pill was his or that he knew about the pill’s presence.

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Virginia homicide case discussing whether a hit-and-run car accident could be the basis for a homicide conviction under state law. Ultimately, the court concluded that while not every hit-and-run accident can be the basis for a homicide conviction, neither are hit-and-run accidents categorically prohibited as a basis for such a charge. Thus, the court determined that whether a hit-and-run accident can serve as the basis for a felony-murder charge depends on the specific facts of each case.

Virginia’s felony-murder statute allows for someone to be convicted if they kill another person during the commission of a felony. The classic example of a felony-murder is when someone is accidentally killed during a bank robbery. Say, for example, the defendant’s gun accidentally discharges, or a co-defendant brings along a firearm to the surprise of the defendant. In either case, the defendant could be charged with felony-murder. However, because “malice” is a required element in a Virginia homicide conviction, the underlying felony must either be a violent crime, or a non-violent crime that was performed in a violent manner. The question here was whether a hit-and-run accident could meet such a definition.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was involved in a hit-and-run accident. The victim of the accident was someone the defendant knew, and had previously been involved in a relationship with. Evidently, a few days before the fatal accident, the defendant had struck the victim with her vehicle while he was riding a bicycle; however, both the defendant and the victim denied that was the case.

When most people think of identity theft, they picture someone using another’s information to withdraw money or make a purchase. However, earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Virginia identify theft case discussing whether someone can be found guilty of identity theft if they use their own identifying information to obtain money. Ultimately, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction, concluding that there is no statutory requirement that a person charged with identity theft use another’s identifying information.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant went to a bank and presented the bank teller with a check that was written to the defendant. The defendant gave the bank teller her own identification and asked to cash the check. The bank teller wrote the defendant’s driver’s license number on the back of the check, but suspected something was awry, as the writing on the check was not uniform. The teller called the account holder, who gave the phone to a police officer who was currently at her home investigating a burglary. As it turns out, the checks were in the process of being reported stolen. As the teller was on the phone, the defendant left the bank.

The defendant was charged with several crimes, including identify theft. The defendant admitted to possessing the check and trying to cash it. However, the defendant claimed that the check was given to her for payment for a television she sold to a woman named “Sug.” The defendant testified that she accepted the check, not knowing the woman’s real name because she needed the money. She also explained that she left the bank because she was scared. The account holder testified that she never gave anyone that check, and that signature on the check was not hers.

Contact Information