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Leesburg Criminal Law Blog

Penalties for felony convictions in Virginia

Many serious crimes in Virginia are classified as felonies. These can include a number of drug charges, such as those linked to sales or manufacturing, as well as manslaughter or murder, sex charges, serious theft allegations, white-collar crimes and weapons charges. A felony conviction not only comes with prison time, but it can also be a serious bar to further education, employment or even housing. In Virginia, there are six classes of felonies, and each has a specified penalty associated with the crime.

Class 1 felonies are the most serious; they can carry the death penalty or life imprisonment as well as a fine of up to $100,000. On the other hand, Class 2 felonies carry a prison term of 20 years to life as well as a fine of $100,000 or less. Class 3 felony convictions lead to five to 20 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $100,000.

Understanding constructive possession

If you face Virginia drug charges, you could also face a substantial prison sentence and/or fine if the prosecutor convicts you of the crime with which you are charged. Whatever the drug crime that law enforcement officers allege you committed, however, in order to convict you of it, the prosecutor must first prove that the drugs in question actually belonged to you.

(S)he can attempt to prove this by one of two ways: that you actually owned the drugs or that you constructively owned them. As its name implies, actual possession requires direct proof that you personally owned the drugs. For instance, the prosecutor can prove actual possession if the officers who arrested you testify that they recovered the drugs from your jacket pocket at the time of your arrest and the judge or jury believes their testimony.

Virginia woman pleads guilty to meth charges

A Virginia woman pleaded guilty to racketeering in Waynesboro Circuit Court on Oct. 1 for distributing 12 pounds or more of methamphetamine. The 28-year-old woman could face a prison sentence of up to 40 years, with a minimum of 5 years behind bars after her plea. A presentence report was ordered for the following week while a sentencing hearing was set for Feb. 6, 2019. During the sentencing hearing, which will take several hours, witnesses for both the prosecution and defense will present testimony related to the woman's potential prison term.

According to police, the drugs the woman sold had a street value of half a million dollars. In addition, a prosecutor said that financial records showed that the woman transferred at least $50,000 to Mexico over a two-year period, using various wire transfer services. They accused her of being connected to a meth trafficking operation based in Mexico. In addition, prosecutors said that other people are also facing charges related to the same drug operation in Waynesboro.

Retired pro baseball player refuses sobriety test at traffic stop

People in Virginia who follow professional baseball know that players sometimes get into trouble with authorities. Jayson Werth, who retired from the sport in June, was arrested at a traffic stop in April. The police officer reported that he stopped Werth for an expired registration. While conversing with Werth, the office became suspicious about the driver's sobriety.

A video of the arrest showed a portion of Werth's interaction with the police officer. He gave the police officer a card that identified Werth as a Major League Baseball player. The officer asked Werth to get out of the vehicle.

Arrests for marijuana possession rise despite decriminalization

While the public perception of marijuana evolves in Virginia and nationwide, law enforcement continues to target people for marijuana possession. The political director for NORML said that 20 percent of the nation's population lives in places that have legalized the drug's recreational use. He criticized the increase in marijuana arrests as a "cruel prohibition that ruins lives". He said that the actions of law enforcement defied public attitudes and basic morality.

According to a report prepared by the FBI, marijuana arrests rose from 653,249 in 2016 to 659,700 in 2017. Law enforcement appeared to be focusing on people possessing the substance instead of selling it. Arrests associated with trafficking fell between 2016 and 2017 from 65,734 to 60,418.

L.A. Rams player charged with DUI

Virginia football fans may be interested to learn that Los Angeles Rams center Aaron Neary was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving on Sept. 16. The incident took place in Simi Valley, California.

According to the Simi Valley Police Department, 911 dispatchers received several calls regarding a suspected drunk driver near Royal Avenue and Sinaloa Road beginning at 6:27 p.m. Witnesses said the vehicle in question was driving recklessly and had already smashed into multiple objects, including a mailbox, a trash can and a bus stop sign. The driver of the car failed to pull over following the accidents.

2 charged with possession of pot, cocaine and illegal alcohol

On Aug. 31, Virginia authorities arrested a man and a woman for allegedly possessing illegal drugs and alcohol. The defendants were taken into custody in Floyd County.

According to media reports, law enforcement officers from the Floyd County Sheriff's Office and the Virginia State Police executed a search warrant at a property on the 100 block of Sams Road. The warrant was obtained as the result of a long-term drug investigation.

Virginia man facing drug trafficking charges

Virginia law enforcement authorities investigating illicit methamphetamine production in the state have reported that a 36-year-old man has been charged with methamphetamine possession and trafficking. The charges were filed after a substance seized during a search of the man's Dugspur residence was identified as more than 225 grams of methamphetamine by a Roanoke crime laboratory.

Deputies from the Carroll County Sheriff's Office and Twin County Drug Task Force searched the Silver Leaf Road home in September 2017 while serving drug and larceny warrants according to reports. Deputies say that their suspicions were aroused when they noticed a chemical odor upon entering the residence. Several items were subsequently removed from the property that police say suggests methamphetamine was being manufactured at the premises.

Juvenile held in connection with Virginia mail carrier robbery

Police in Virginia have charged a juvenile with using a firearm in commission of a felony and robbery in connection with an incident involving a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier on Aug. 20. Media reports indicate that a mail carrier was robbed at gunpoint in Richmond's Oakwood neighborhood as he was delivering mail on R Street at approximately 11:45 a.m. The Richmond Police Department says that a description provided by an eyewitness helped them to identify the boy.

Initial accounts described the suspect as a black man between 18 and 23 years of age with a thin build and short hair who fled the scene on a blue mountain bicycle. Police received a more detailed description after USPS announced that a $5,000 reward would be paid for information leading to the arrest and subsequent conviction of the offender. Officers assigned to the Creighton Court area are said to have approached a boy fitting the general description while walking on Creighton Road on Aug. 22.

Pipeline construction opponents appeal their convictions

A pair of pipeline opponents in Roanoke County have been convicted of violating a local owner's property where trees were being cleared. The misdemeanor conviction is being appealed by the pair. They claim that they did not intend to interfere with operations but wanted to monitor workers who were getting close to an alleged native American site of significance.

Originally, the two protesters were arrested on May 25 for interfering with an easement on Bent Mountain property where pipeline workers were cutting trees. The protesters claim that they were in a safety zone far beyond the easement. They argue that they were there to monitor the burial site and to make sure that trees were only being cut within the parameters of the work site. Appeals are scheduled for September of 2018.

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