Towards the end of last month, a court of appeals in Virginia had to decide whether to reconsider a defendant’s guilty conviction for possession of methamphetamine. Originally, the defendant was charged and convicted after officers found drugs in the back of his truck; on appeal, he argued that the Commonwealth had not proven that he possessed ten grams of pure methamphetamine, which was required if the court was going to sentence him with as much time in prison as it did. Ultimately, the higher court agreed with the defendant and remanded the case for resentencing.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was driving a blue pickup truck one evening when a police officer stopped him on the road. The defendant was carrying a motorcycle in the back of the truck, and the officer suspected the defendant might be stealing the motorcycle. The officer stopped the defendant, learned that the defendant did not have permission to take the motorcycle, and conducted an arrest.
A few minutes later, another officer arrived at the scene and found drug paraphernalia, drugs, and a pistol in the truck. The defendant was criminally charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell, give, or distribute, along with possession of a firearm with intent to distribute.
The defendant was found guilty on both counts. When it was time for the court to decide the defendant’s sentence, it calculated the prison time as if the defendant had been found guilty of a specific crime: possession of ten grams or more of methamphetamine. Ultimately, the court sentenced the defendant to twenty years of incarceration and twelve months of jail. He promptly appealed.
On appeal, the defendant took issue with the court’s method of sentencing. According to the defendant, the court can sentence individuals to more time in jail if they are found guilty of possessing ten grams or more of methamphetamine. This specific crime did not apply to him, said the defendant, because the Commonwealth had not proven that all the drugs in the defendant’s possession were methamphetamine.
The court looked at the evidence and noted that the lab analyzing the drugs had failed to investigate whether the entirety of the defendant’s drugs was made up of methamphetamine. Without this analysis, said the court, it was possible that the defendant possessed fewer than ten grams of methamphetamine. Without the necessary evidence about the exact weight of the pure methamphetamine in the defendant’s possession, the court decided it needed to remand the case for resentencing.
Are You Facing Drug Charges in Fairfax County?
If you have been charged with a drug crime in Fairfax County, give us a call at Robinson Law, PLLC. Our attorneys offer aggressive, dedicated representation, and we stand in your corner when you need it the most. We take on a wide range of cases, including those related to DUIs, assault and battery, drugs, guns, and domestic violence. For a free and confidential consultation, give us a call today at (703) 844-3746.