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Virginia Court Denies Defendant’s Motion to Suppress in Drug Case

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.

The Decision

The defendant was found guilty of distribution of a Schedule I or II controlled substance. He made several arguments on appeal, one of which was that the trial court should have suppressed the informant’s identification of his identity through a photograph before the controlled buy. According to the defendant, showing the informant a single photo was unnecessarily suggestive, making it too easy for the informant to say that the defendant was indeed a drug dealer. Instead, the informant should have been shown multiple photos and been forced to pick the defendant’s face out of the photo lineup.

The court disagreed with the defendant’s argument. It was acceptable for the informant to only be shown one photo, said the court, because the identification occurred before any crime had been committed, i.e. before the controlled buy itself. Thus, the informant was not making the identification under circumstances of emergency or emotional distress. He could think rationally and clearly since all of the identification procedures happened before any crime occurred. Given these facts, said the court, the photo identification method was appropriate, and the defendant’s appeal was denied.

Are You Facing Drug Charges in Virginia?

If you have been criminally charged because of drug distribution in Virginia, you are not alone. At Robinson Law, PLLC, we are proud to stand by the side of Virginian defendants whose voices deserve to be heard. We will work hard as we listen to your needs and craft a defense strategy that works for you. For your free and confidential consultation, call us at 888-259-9787.

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