When facing possession with intent to distribute case in Virginia, it can be extremely confusing. A possession with intent to distribute lawyer can help you understand what the prosecution will need to prove. Our legal team is available to take your call and schedule an initial consultation.
There are different ways that drug dealing arrests are made. One way would be when there is no investigation prior to the arrest and officers or investigators stumble upon an offense. For instance, at a traffic stop, a person can be pulled over for suspected DUI and get arrested. If their vehicle is searched or the person is searched and drugs and other evidence of dealing are found, then PWID will likely be charged at that point.
There are also cases in which the police investigate a certain target for a certain period of time and they develop evidence through confidential informants and undercover buys. That ongoing investigation leads to enough evidence to get a warrant to arrest that particular person who was the target or one of the targets of the investigation.
Usually, that arrest warrant is coupled with a search warrant for the person’s home and car to search for additional contraband or evidence to support the distribution charge. Those are the two general types of drug arrest scenario cases that you might see; one where there is no investigation prior to the arrest and one where there was a lengthy investigation prior to the arrest.
For possession with intent to distribute cases, the key element is the intent. The government, or the Commonwealth, will present evidence to show that the drugs that the accused was in possession of were for sale and not for personal use. The amount of the drugs and the way in which they are packaged is critical. If it is a borderline amount that could potentially be divided up and packaged for a sale, they could use that evidence along with other corroborating evidence such as money, owe sheets, or multiple cellphones.
The person’s incriminating statements to the police is direct evidence of the person’s intent when they were in possession of the drugs and can make or break a case for the Commonwealth. If there are some undercover buys with confidential informants, those are pretty hard and fast cases, but that does not mean there are not defenses that we can use.
As far as what the government needs to prove, the amounts that per se qualify as distribution versus simple possession are not set in stone. The government also has to present expert testimony to show what quantity of drug is inconsistent with personal use. Some law enforcement officers have a lot of training and experience in narcotics investigations, so they can testify as experts as to what is consistent or not consistent with personal use.
The evidence used in possession with intent to distribute cases are very fact-specific. That is why it is important for the attorney on the case to understand the facts from the client side, but also to know what the government is going to present. The preliminary hearing is the first and best opportunity for a defense attorney to find out what the government’s evidence will be at trial on a PWID charge.
A lawyer does this by asking the Commonwealth’s witnesses the right questions. It is important to be able to ask the right questions of the witnesses and lock them in on answers so that at trial, if something is said differently, that inconsistency could be capitalized on at trial.
The lack of credibility of the Commonwealth’s witnesses can be exposed to the jury and the jury can take the witnesses’ opinion with a grain of salt. With borderline cases, the facts are extremely important. Also, it is the defense attorney’s job to offer an innocent explanation for the evidence the Commonwealth is trying to spin as being incriminating, such as having a large amount of cash on your person.
There could be a completely innocent explanation for having $1,200 in your pocket. You might have just been paid in cash from your job, or it could have been a gift. The defense attorney has to think of ways to spin it the opposite way that the Commonwealth is spinning it.
It is the same in cases where you have multiple cell phones or where a client made statements to the police or other witnesses. That evidence has to be put in the correct context because when a police officer paraphrases what a defendant said, there is usually a lot that they are not saying. There could be things that the person said that are not incriminating and could in fact be helpful for their defense.
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