Throughout central Virginia, law enforcement has escalated drug raids and arrests. This has led the number of drug and narcotic offenses to rise 42 percent between 2016 and 2017. An annual Virginia State Police report on crime statistics showed that drug arrests in the region have escalated far more rapidly than the statewide upswing of 16 percent. This reported increase in drug crimes has accompanied the opioid epidemic that has grown across the country.
The drug crime statistics tracked by the report cover a wide range of allegations, from simple possession of marijuana to large-scale distribution charges. Various cities in the region found that their local statistics mirrored the regional upswing. For example, Lynchburg alone noted a 42 percent increase in drug cases. However, police in the city noted that they also changed their reporting system, which can cause offenses previously registered as one crime to now appear several times, especially when multiple charges are involved. For example, if one person was arrested for both drug possession and possession of paraphernalia, this would be registered as two offenses.
Lynchburg officials noted that when paraphernalia possession charges were removed, their statistics rose by only 20 percent. This is more in line with the overall state increase. In addition, officials in the city said that their local concerns did not center on opioids in particular. In Bedford County, however, local sheriff’s deputies said that opioids and methamphetamine were major problems in the area.
People who are struggling with addiction may be hit with serious drug charges, especially as law enforcement efforts increase. A criminal defense lawyer is essential when facing drug charges. Legal counsel could help present a strong defense before the case goes to trial as well as in the courtroom.