Recently, an appellate court in Fairfax County determined that the trial judge incorrectly allowed a trial to proceed in a criminal defendant’s drug case. Because the lower court improperly allowed the defendant’s case to move forward, the defendant was entitled to a reversal. The court then vacated the defendant’s conviction.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was charged with two counts of possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute, what courts often abbreviate as “PWID.” Going into the trial, the Commonwealth argued that the defendant was convicted of a similar offense twice before; thus, because this was his third PWID offense, he should be subject to significant time in prison.
At trial, however, the defendant argued that the Commonwealth’s evidence proving that he was convicted of two previous PWID offenses was insufficient. The documents were not authenticated and showed inconsistent information. The court agreed with the defendant and allowed him to strike the evidence from the record.
Instead of automatically deciding that the defendant could not be found guilty for a third PWID offense, given there was no sufficient proof of the first two offenses, the court allowed the Commonwealth to submit additional evidence supporting the claim that the defendant had been found guilty of the first two offenses. When it heard this additional evidence, the court then decided that there was enough evidence to convict the defendant of a third PWID.