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Manassas Drug Case Prosecution

What a prosecutor will need to prove in a Manassas drug offense case is different from case to case, depending on what the charge is. Every case is going to involve proving that there was the possession of an illegal drug, and having some proof that it is, in fact, an illegal drug and that the individual was aware that the drugs were in their possession, that they knew they were there, that they knew what they were, and that they were subject to their dominion and control. There are other elements that are particular to different kinds of cases, but those are the ones that are common to all of them. No matter the specifics of the case, a Manassas drug lawyer can help to disprove these prosecutorial elements, and so hopefully get the charges dismissed or lessened.

Evidence for the Prosecution

In a Manassas drug offense case, there will almost always be a certificate of analysis, which is a document created by the Department of Forensics that displays the results of the chemical analysis of the substance seized from the defendant during the arrest.

There will also almost always be witness testimony, whether it comes from a police officer, a confidential informant, or some third party, which is going to attempt to establish that the person was in possession of the drug, that they possessed it with the intent to distribute, or that they were engaged in manufacturing, selling, or distributing the drug. Finally, many of these cases involve evidence in the form of statements or confessions by the accused. This is unfortunate because an individual never has to talk to police and never has to make any statements. Giving incriminating evidence to the police is something that can always be avoided.

Highly Contested Elements at Trial

The most highly contested elements of a case at trial are typically whether the elements of constructed possession, which is the most common kind of charged possession, could be proved. It is often highly contested whether the defendant had the opportunity to know that the drugs were there, what they were, and whether they were subject to their dominion and control. Constitutional issues are always highly contested when they arise whether there has been an illegal search or an illegal seizure, or whether a statement was made to police under conditions where it ought to be suppressed because it was in violation of their Fifth Amendment rights, including circumstances where a Miranda warning should have been given, but was not.

Manassas Drug Offense Sentencing

Sentencing for misdemeanor drug offenses is handled by the judge at the conclusion of trial. Typically, there is also evidence and argument presented at the conclusion of trial once there has been a conviction by both the prosecution and the defense to try to persuade the judges to what an appropriate punishment is in light of conviction.

In felony cases, there will, in the vast majority of cases, be a pre-sentencing investigation which is prepared by the probation office subsequent either to conviction or to a guilty plea. This will involve an interview of the accused to determine their background, to evaluate a number of factors, to provide the judge with a significant amount of information about the individual, as well as to run the Virginia sentencing guidelines. Once this investigation has been completed and the guidelines have been prepared, they are presented to the court by the probation office, and in many cases, there is argument by both the prosecution and the defense as to what the appropriate penalties should be in light of the evidence that was received at trial, in light of the contents of the pre-sentencing investigation, and in light of any other evidence or argument which is presented at the sentencing hearing.

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