A 43-year-old Virginia man was sentenced to more than two decades in prison on Aug. 24 for distributing heroin and cocaine in the Richmond area. The Henrico resident had pleaded guilty to a raft of drug possession, distribution and firearms charges on May 23. The man was also ordered to forfeit a handgun and pay financial restitution of $1.05 million. Reports indicate that this figure was based on the estimated proceeds of the man's drug trafficking and distribution activities.
The man, who has several prior drug convictions according to reports, admitted to authorities that he distributed in excess of 15 kilograms of cocaine and seven kilograms of heroin to drug users in the Richmond area in 2016. Police say that this is enough drugs to produce more than 200,000 individual doses or hits. Weapons charges were added after police discovered a .38 caliber revolver and ammunition in the man's possession. Convicted felons are not permitted to own or carry firearms under Virginia law.
The announcement of the man's sentence was made by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. According to the press release, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration's Washington Field Division were assisted during the investigation by officers from the Richmond Police Department and the Chesterfield County Police Department.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys may encourage their clients to enter into plea agreements when the evidence against them is convincing and the possible sanctions are severe. Mandatory sentencing laws provide judges with few opportunities to show leniency, but prosecutors may agree to consolidate or drop drug trafficking charges in return for a guilty plea even when their cases seem strong. However, attorneys could advocate fiercely on behalf of their clients in court when the cases are weak or police may have strayed beyond boundaries established by the Constitution.