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Drug Arrests and Cases in Manassas

The way that drug charges and arrests are made in Manassas, and the way that a drug arrest proceeds, are important factors  in the way that a person’s drug case will be resolved. It is important for anyone arrested and charged with a drug offense in Manassas, to have an experienced and logical attorney by their side who can guide them through all of these steps and to seek a positive outcome for them.

Common Ways Drug Offenses are Charged

Drug offenses are most commonly charged as simple possession, as possession with intent, or somewhat more rarely, as a drug sales or distribution case. There are always a large number of possession cases, because possession of drugs so frequently turns up in other kinds of settings. For example, it is very common for a person to be stopped for some traffic offense and for it to turn into a drug arrest because police smell marijuana.

Marijuana has become so common that it is a charge that is very frequently seen. In addition, there seem to be a larger number of charges for possession with intent to distribute in Manassas. Possessing marijuana and providing it to other people, because of legalization in so many parts of this country, has lost a lot of its stigma. As a result, there are more individuals who are engaged in distributing it. Unfortunately, this seems to be also true with some of the harder drugs, like heroin. Having lost some of the stigma that it once had, there are simply more people who are found to be in possession of it and there are more people who are actively engaged in distributing it. These kinds of charges are more common then they were in the past.

Police Searches

An individual never has to consent to a search by the police under any circumstances. Even under circumstances where the police may have legal justification to perform a search, it is important for an individual to politely but firmly assert to the police that they do not consent to any searches. Their constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment in these situations, which may help them, will be waived if they consent to the search. It is always important to never consent to a search.

Where Manassas Drug Cases Are Heard

Manassas drug cases can be heard in any of the three courts that sit there. For cases that involve persons who are under 18, they will be heard in the juvenile and domestic court for misdemeanors and in the circuit court for felonies. For adults, misdemeanor cases will be heard in the General District Court. Ultimately, felony cases are tried in the Circuit Court.

Bench v. Jury Trials

Most drug cases in Manassas are bench trials. While it is true that defendants as well as the government have the right to ask for a jury in any felony case, and while it is sometimes true that it is advisable to ask for a jury in these kinds of cases, one unique facet of Virginia jurisprudence is that juries not only determine guilt or innocence, but they also determine the punishment. This introduces a fairly large risk in trying the case in front of a jury. Whereas a judge has to consider Virginia sentencing guidelines, and in most cases will sentence within a similar range to other cases they’ve dealt with in the past and in accordance with the sentencing guidelines, a jury simply does not have to do that. For a case where a person may only be at risk for a one-year sentence in most cases in front of a judge, they may find themselves sentenced to prison for 10 years if a jury is sufficiently offended by the facts of the case. For this reason, bench trials are probably 95% of the trials in drug cases in Manassas.

Length of a Drug Offense Case

How long a Manassas drug offense case takes depends on the severity of the charge. In misdemeanor cases, typically the case will be resolved within 90 to 120 days. Serious felony cases may take six months to a year to resolve, because there are simply more hearings, more procedures, and more things to be done and gone through in these more serious cases that simply take time to complete.

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