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Virginia Court Upholds Conspiracy Verdict in Drug Case

In a recent drug case in Virginia, the court decided that despite some arguments to the contrary, a defendant had conspired to distribute methamphetamine. Originally, the defendant had argued that she was only guilty of one single incident of drug dealing and that one incident did not constitute an entire “conspiracy.” The court disagreed, affirming her guilty verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, an undercover police officer pretending to be a drug dealer began a text exchange with someone he suspected of dealing methamphetamine. The officer and the suspect arranged to meet at a Dollar General store to trade a Pontiac car for three “8-balls” of meth – the undercover officer said he would provide the car if the suspect provided the meth.

The suspect promptly contacted the defendant in this case and showed her the text exchange with the undercover police officer. The defendant did not have any drugs, but she immediately became interested in acquiring the car. The male suspect, then, agreed to front the defendant the drugs as long as he was properly reimbursed over time. The pair agreed to drive together to the meeting point, and the defendant said she would hold the drugs in her bra. When they arrived at the Dollar General store, the undercover officer was waiting for them. He and two other deputies arrested the pair immediately. At trial a few months later, the defendant was found guilty of indictment against her male counterpart as well as one count of possessing drugs with intent to distribute and one count of conspiracy to distribute drugs.

The Decision

At the end of the trial, the defendant moved to strike all evidence related to the conspiracy charge. She argued that the Commonwealth had only proven that there was one single transaction going on, and that a conspiracy had to involve more than one single transaction. Despite this argument, the defendant was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute. She promptly appealed.

The higher court, the Court of Appeals, agreed with the defendant, concluding there was not sufficient evidence to prove conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. According to the higher court, the jury should have been told that one single buyer-seller relationship does not, in fact, constitute a conspiracy. Because the jury was not instructed accordingly, this higher court reversed the defendant’s conspiracy conviction.

On appeal a second time, the Commonwealth of Virginia argued that the Court of Appeals should not have reversed the conspiracy conviction. According to the Commonwealth, there was an “elaborate plan to exchange methamphetamine for a car.” Given this elaborate plan, the incident constituted more than a single incident of buying and selling drugs. It was thus reasonable for the defendant to be convicted of conspiracy to distribute.

This time, the court agreed with the Commonwealth. The court looked at the facts of the case, noting that the two people involved in the deal conspired by agreeing to drive together, by entering an elaborate financing scheme, and by planning to engage in criminal activity together. Given all of this effort, the incident at hand was enough to constitute a conspiracy. Thus the conspiracy conviction should be upheld, said the court, ultimately reversing the court’s decision below.

Are You Facing Drug Charges in Virginia?

If you have been accused of a drug crime in Virginia, it is crucial to hire a qualified criminal defense attorney that can make sure you know your options moving forward. At Robinson Law, PLLC, we will work with you to create a plan so that you have every opportunity to defend yourself. For a free and confidential consultation, call us at 703-542-4008.

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