Hampton Roads Drug Trials

For the most part, Hampton Roads drug trials are bench trials. In Virginia Beach, for example, they have been more vocal about requesting jury trials for drug cases. In Virginia, the presumption is every trial is a jury trial.

For most drug charges, the preference for all parties is to handle them as bench trials instead of jury trials. Contact a skilled narcotics attorney to learn more about preparing for your case.

Typical Duration of Drug Offense Cases

Following an arrest, someone’s date is usually within two to three months of the arrest date. If it is possession of a controlled substance, it may take about three to six months, because they usually have to send the substance off to the state laboratory’s testing and that can take time. The case has to go through both district and circuit court and that can take a little longer.

Distribution cases can take longer than typical Hampton Roads drug trials. This is common when there is a confidential informant and the government or the prosecution has indictments but is waiting to serve them as they try to gather evidence or to use their confidential informants for as long as possible.

The goal is to have a case heard within six months of indictment. However, it is not uncommon for it to take longer than that in distribution cases especially when it is a complicated matter or if there is a jury trial that is being demanded.

Common Elements of Hampton Roads Drug Crime Cases

Often, what comes up in a possession case, is that they may argue whether or not there was constructive possession, whether or not they can prove that the defendant actually had possession of the item. Based on the evidence in a drug distribution case, the defense could call into question what exactly has established the identity of the person making the sales. If it is not like that, if it is a case where they arrest someone and they find the substances on them and they are charging it as distribution, they may argue that the items were for personal use.

These tend to involve searches of a person or a person’s house or a person’s vehicle which brings in the Fourth Amendment. There are often questions about whether or not the search was done properly, whether or not they had a valid warrant or if it was a probable cause search, whether or not they had probable cause to conduct the search and if the officers did everything correctly for the search to be a legal and lawful search.

Where are Hampton Roads Drug Trials Heard?

Hampton Roads drug trials for a felony case typically start in district court. This is where the preliminary hearing and then they are heard, and assuming it gets past the preliminary hearing phase, they are heard in the circuit court. In certain instances, there will be what are called direct indictments. In a direct indictment, there is no preliminary hearing. The case goes straight to the circuit court where it is heard.