Generally, in Fairfax drug cases the first thing prosecutors have to prove is that the substance in question is a controlled substance, meaning it is either a narcotic, a synthetic drug, or marijuana. Then the prosecutor would have to prove that an individual is in actual possession, constructive possession, or joint possession. Two or more people can also be in possession of the same drugs.
Actual and constructive possession compounded with the quantity of the drugs also influence how prosecutors will proceed. A Fairfax drug lawyer can speak more clearly about these types of charges and what the State must prove in order to convict.
Actual possession is when a drug is physically found on a person’s body. An example of actual possession would be that there is a marijuana joint in somebody’s pocket Actual possession means the drug was located on a person and that person knew the character and nature of the drug while it was in their possession.
Comparatively, constructive possession is a little bit more ambiguous than actual possession. For constructive possession the prosecutors would have to show facts and circumstances that would allow for a judge to find beyond a reasonable doubt that someone knew about the drugs, exercised dominion and control over the drugs, and was aware of the nature and character of the drugs. An example of constructive possession might be a joint found in the center console of a vehicle.
The question then becomes whether there is enough evidence to show that the driver knew that the joint was there and that they knew it was a marijuana joint. Thus, they are not actually in physical possession of it, but they are in close proximity to it with knowledge of what it is.
Possession with intent to distribute is where the weight or the quantity of the drugs found in someone’s possession is going to be very important. There will be questions raised as to whether or not the drugs are consistent with personal use. If they are consistent with personal use, then it is probably not enough for the prosecutor to meet their burden of proof in showing that the person intended to sell it.
Some other relevant factors are the packaging of the drugs, whether or not there is more than one type of drug in that person’s possession, whether there are any drug paraphernalia to indicate a person in possession was actually smoking or using the drug.
Digital scales, owe sheets, and large amounts of cash would be more consistent with selling. The person’s statements to police or to confidential informants are going to be very important, as well as evidence surrounding the possession of the drugs.
Those are cases in which it is a little bit more complex. There might be undercover operations. There could be a person who has sold to an undercover detective or has engaged in a pattern of selling to a confidential informant who works for the police, but is not actually a police officer.
A lot of times, Fairfax police officers enforce drug possession laws through traffic stops that turn into a search of a vehicle. For example, someone could be stopped for either suspicion of DUI or running a red light or speeding. The officer then pulls the person over and smells an odor of marijuana, which then gives the officer probable cause to search the vehicle which leads to the discovery of drugs.
Once police discover drugs, they will then charge you with some kind of drug possession charge. Another general category are undercover operations in which Fairfax police officers have targeted individuals and either implemented confidential informants to assist them or have gone undercover themselves to engage in buying the drugs from the target.
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