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In a recent case coming out of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his DWI conviction. Originally, a police officer found the defendant sleeping in his car, and upon several sobriety tests, the officer discovered that the defendant was intoxicated. The defendant was charged and convicted of driving while intoxicated. He appealed, arguing that there was not enough evidence to support the guilty finding. The court of appeals considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately denied it, concluding that the court could reasonably infer his guilt based on the facts presented by the officer.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, late one night in 2019, an officer was dispatched to investigate a report of two people asleep in their car. The officer found the reported vehicle partially parked on the sidewalk of a public street. Inside, the defendant and his girlfriend were both asleep. The car engine was off, but the gearshift was in the drive position and the headlights were on. Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer smelled alcohol coming from inside.

The defendant woke up and agreed to provide a breath sample for the officer. After the breath test, the defendant admitted to the officer that he was likely over the legal limit. He also stated repeatedly that he knew he had messed up. The officer informed the defendant that his preliminary breath test result was .11, substantially over the legal limit of .08. The officer arrested the defendant for DWI.

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In a recent case coming out of a Virginia court, the Commonwealth attempted to argue that the defendant’s motion to suppress incriminating evidence should have been denied. Originally, two officers pulled the defendant over in his vehicle and searched the car after getting a glimpse of an open container as well as a bit of marijuana inside. The defendant argued the officers’ search was unconstitutional, and the lower court agreed with him. When the Commonwealth appealed, the higher court affirmed the lower court’s decision and concluded that the officers infringed on the defendant’s right to privacy.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, two officers stopped the defendant one evening after they noticed his car traveling across lanes without any turn signal. During the traffic stop, the officers noticed an open container of liquor in the passenger seat. The container appeared as if was partially empty, even though the bottle cap was still screwed on.

The officers asked the defendant’s passenger to produce her identification. When she reached for her purse and wallet, the officers noticed a green, leafy substance inside of her wallet that they suspected was marijuana. The passenger confirmed that she had purchased the substance and that it was indeed marijuana; however, the marijuana was legal and the officers had no reason to suspect there were other drugs inside the vehicle.

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In a recent case coming out of a Virginia court, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his convictions of drug possession and driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. One of the defendant’s main arguments on appeal was that the evidence failed to support a showing that he was guilty of driving while under the influence; given this lack of evidence, said the defendant, the conviction should be overturned. The court examined the evidence and ultimately disagreed with the defendant, affirming his convictions.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, a patrolling officer was dispatched to a service road one evening to check on a man who was reported to be asleep in his car in the middle of the road. When the officer arrived, he found the defendant sleeping in the driver’s seat. The officer approached the defendant, at which point the defendant took his foot off the brake pedal and unintentionally shifted the car forward.

The officer began asking the defendant questions, and he immediately noticed that the defendant appeared to be under the influence of some kind of substance. The defendant was fidgety, antsy, and speaking quickly. He could not remember his birthday, and he claimed that he had a knife on his person. The officers arrested the defendant and immediately found methamphetamine in plain view next to the driver’s seat. There was also an open container of liquor sitting on the center console.

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In a recent case coming out of a court that oversees the Commonwealth of Virginia, the defendant appealed his 219-month sentence based on drug convictions. On appeal, the defendant argued that a law passed in 2010 reduced the maximum sentence he could face for a conviction related to cocaine possession. The court looked at the law in question and ultimately disagreed with the defendant, denying his appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was convicted approximately ten years ago of participating in a 2009 drug conspiracy. In 2012, a trial court concluded that the defendant had dealt with powder and crack cocaine in the conspiracy, and he was sentenced to 219 months in prison as a result.

Two years prior to the conviction, in 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the statutory penalties for crack cocaine offenses nationwide. After its enactment, the government had to decide whether or not the Act applied to defendants who had been convicted before 2010 – that is, did defendants convicted of crack cocaine offenses qualify for lower sentences even if those convictions occurred prior to Congress’s passing of the Act? Congress decided in 2018 that yes, the Act would apply to pre-Act offenders who had not yet been sentenced when the Act became effective.

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In a recent case coming out of a Virginia court, the Commonwealth appealed a lower court’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion to suppress. In its argument, the Commonwealth emphasized that the court should not have suppressed incriminating evidence found on the defendant’s person because the defendant consented to the officer’s search, thus making it a reasonable circumstance under which the officers found illegal drugs. The higher court denied the Commonwealth’s appeal and affirmed that the drugs were properly suppressed.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was riding in an Uber one afternoon when the Uber driver called 911 to report that the defendant was passed out in the back of the car. Officers arrived at the scene and approached the vehicle to speak with the defendant. At that point, the defendant was alert and able to communicate. The defendant got out of the car and moved to the sidewalk so that he could speak with the officers; at that point, one of the officers asked the defendant for his identification, and the defendant handed over a Colorado driver’s license as well as a Virginia driver’s license.

The officer recognized the defendant from previous interactions and asked to search his pockets. The defendant agreed, and the officer began his search. The officer did not present any Miranda warnings or tell the defendant that he was free to leave.

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In a recent case coming out of a Virginia court, the defendant’s appeal of his unlawful wounding conviction was denied. On appeal, the defendant argued that the court left too much time between the date he was arrested and the date of his trial. Because defendants in the United States and in Virginia have the constitutional right to a speedy trial, the defendant argued that his rights were violated and his conviction should be overturned. After examining the facts, the court disagreed with the defendant and denied the appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was criminally charged after he wounded an acquaintance in July 2019. He was arrested a couple of months later, and he was subsequently denied bail. His jury trial was scheduled for March 16, 2020, but the court’s emergency orders resulting from COVID-19 delayed any court proceedings that were supposed to take place starting mid-March. The defendant’s trial was pushed back, and he remained in custody while he awaited a new date.

Due to the pandemic, scheduling delays, and requests for continuances from the defendant’s counsel, the defendant’s trial ended up taking place in November 2020. After trial, the defendant was sentenced to five years in prison. He promptly appealed his conviction.

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In a recent case coming out of a southeastern federal court, the defendant’s appeal of his 100-month prison sentence was denied. According to the defendant, the lower court had imposed a sentence that was too harsh, and it was only fair for the higher court to reevaluate the sentence to more accurately reflect the crime that the defendant committed. Ultimately, the court disagreed, and the defendant’s original sentence was affirmed.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, in 2016, the defendant in this case somehow acquired counterfeit twenty-dollar bills. He used these bills to purchase a weapon – specifically, a Ruger 9mm pistol along with ammunition. He was later indicted on two counts: (1) possession of a firearm and ammunition and (2) passing counterfeit money. Of note, the defendant in this case had been convicted of felonies in the past, meaning he could potentially face harsher consequences for the 2016 crime given his criminal history.

The Decision

The court sentenced the defendant to 100 months in prison and three years of supervised release. On appeal, the defendant argued that his sentence was too harsh and that the criterion that the probation officer used to sentence him was the incorrect standard for the officer to be using. In the sentencing hearing, the probation officer advised the court that it should increase the defendant’s sentence because of a law stating that if a defendant “used or possessed any firearm or ammunition in connection with another felony offense,” that defendant’s prison time should be longer than it would be otherwise.

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In a recent case coming out of a Virginia court, the defendant appealed her conviction based on a violation of her suspended sentence. The defendant was under a suspended sentence for several years and had been reporting to drug court throughout the years to prove that she was not using any narcotics or alcohol. After several violations, the defendant argued that at least two of her positive drug tests were the result of a single incident of drug usage, thus that it was unfair for the court to use both tests against her when finding her guilty of the violation. The court considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately affirmed her original guilty conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was originally convicted of distribution of cocaine in 2009 and sentenced to three years in prison with an additional three years of suspension, conditioned upon good behavior and completion of probation. Several years later, the court determined that the defendant had violated the terms of her suspension, and she was again convicted, this time of forging a public record. The defendant was sentenced to additional time in prison (one year) as well as additional suspension, conditioned upon the completion of probation (ten years).

During this time, the court again discovered that the defendant had violated her probation by overdosing on narcotics. She was re-suspended and ordered to complete drug court. For a while, the defendant successfully provided negative drug screens as a part of her duties to the drug court; however, on June 2, 2020, the defendant overdosed on heroin. Three days later, she tested positive again for cocaine.

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In a recent case involving grand larceny in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the defendant successfully appealed his guilty conviction by arguing that the Commonwealth lacked sufficient evidence to prove him guilty. After agreeing with the defendant’s main argument, the court of appeals vacated his conviction and dismissed his indictment.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was working as a general contractor for a school in Norfolk when he was criminally charged. As part of his work, the defendant was installing a fire suppression system and was going to the construction site regularly to perform his duties. Around that time, an individual stole tools from a large brown box, and the police later named the defendant as a suspect in this theft. He was charged and, eventually, his case went to trial.

The primary evidence the prosecution presented at trial was a surveillance video that supposedly showed the theft in question. The video showed a man reaching into the box, lifting tools from the box, and putting the tools in the bag. The video did not show how many tools, or which tools exactly, were placed into the bag. The prosecution clearly established that the defendant was the person in the surveillance video.

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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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