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Virginia judge refers McGowan cocaine case to grand jury

Actress Rose McGowan faces the prospect of a criminal indictment for felony cocaine possession after a judge in Virginia ruled that the facts in the case warranted consideration by a grand jury. The ruling was handed down following a May 3 hearing. The ruling was another setback for McGowan's attorneys who tried unsuccessfully in March to have the case dismissed. The actress was charged in January after an airline employee discovered her driver's license in a wallet that also contained a package of cocaine while cleaning an aircraft.

McGowan was one of the first actresses to accuse film producer Harvey Weinstein of rape, and both the actress and her attorneys have suggested that the drugs were planted by one of the Hollywood mogul's agents to undermine and discredit her allegations. However, media reports suggest that the actress's attorneys made no such claims during the May 3 hearing and instead raised questions about the amount of time that elapsed between McGowan misplacing her wallet and its subsequent discovery.

Reports suggest that prosecutors are convinced that the drugs belonged to McGowan because they were allegedly found in her wallet. They also point out that the actress lost all interest in claiming her lost wallet after learning that it had been turned over to the police. McGowan is scheduled to appear before a grand jury on June 11 and will be arraigned on drug possession charges on June 12 if indicted.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys may advise their clients not to be overly concerned about grand jury indictments. Grand juries are tasked with deciding whether or not a case has sufficient evidence to go to trial, but obtaining an indictment is far easier for persecutors than winning a trial. Defense attorneys can call witnesses and present evidence in a trial, and juries in a criminal court must all be convinced of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, only prosecutors can address a grand jury, and no judge is present during these proceedings.

Source: Page Six, "Rose McGowan drug possession charge going to grand jury", Associated Press, May 4, 2018

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