Virginia Beach Drug Cases: What to Expect in Court

The evidence in Virginia Beach drug offense cases is primarily the testimony of the officer. This usually includes all the surrounding details that go into how the drug was found, how the search was conducted, and how the drugs were seized, as well as anything that the defendant may have said or done. Contacting a drug lawyer in Virginia Beach once you’ve been charged is important because an attorney can defending and advocate for your rights in court.

Defending a Virginia Beach Drug Case

The defense should provide a strong cross examination of the officer to counter any of the evidence and to ensure that proper procedure was followed the whole way. This means ensuring that the procedure for the stop, search and seizure was all done properly and validly. It is the job of the defense to shed reasonable doubt on the facts of whether the defendant was actually guilty of the charge.

The elements of the case that are typically contested are:

  • The reason for the stop
  • Reason for the search
  • What probable cause there was available for the search and whether it was enough

The defense will question whether the seizure of the drug was valid and if the possession of the drug can persuasively be attributed to the defendant.

Virginia Beach Drug Sentencing

Virginia Beach goes by the statutory guidelines for each type of drug offense and follows it very closely. This means that there is not much leeway in giving creative sentences for the judges or the prosecutors. Most defendants will get the same exact penalties for the same exact charge without very much difference regardless of what the circumstances were.

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in Drug Cases

Some aggravating factors are having a criminal record;  the consequences are possibly more enhanced if the defendant has any drug related convictions on their criminal record.

Another aggravating factor is the weight and the type of drug being distributed, with some drugs being more serious than others. If the sale of the drug was on or near school property or a state hospital or public recreation or community center or library, then it is another aggravating factor that makes it a felony. Then the crime is punishable by a mandatory prison sentence of not less than one year or more than 5 years with a fine of up to $100,000.

Things that can mitigate the sentence are whether somebody is just a simple drug user versus someone distributing or selling to a bunch of other people, and whether someone is actively trying to get treatment. Judges understand that it is a process to get a clean break from an addiction and tend to be understanding in situations where the defendant is actively showing they are taking steps to fix the issue.

Another mitigating factor is that, if it is a first offense, sometimes employment can mitigate it particularly if a conviction will cost somebody their job.

Constitutional Issues in Virginia Beach Drug Cases

Most drug offense cases begin with a stop or with search of property. The Fourth Amendment comes into play in the very beginning and is particularly pertinent when the law enforcement officers aren’t careful with their procedures. There needs to be a valid warrant or consent or probable cause in order for a search to be valid.

Other issues arise when the Fifth Amendment right to counsel gets violated. It is necessary to read the defendant their Miranda Rights when they are being detained and if this step is skipped then anything that the defendant says, even if it is an outright admission of guilt,  won’t be admissible in court.

That means that it cannot be used against the defendant. This can have a huge impact on a case because a case that would be completely solid with strong evidence could be completely compromised if the law enforcement doesn’t do their job correctly. If they perform an illegal search and seizure, or if they don’t read somebody their Miranda Rights, then evidence that would seal the deal for a case can be thrown out. This can often result in there not being enough evidence left to prove the case, so the case must be dismissed.