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December 2019 Archives

Reform advocates warn against harsher drug sentences

In Virginia and across the country, many people have urged changes to the criminal justice system to reduce the number of people incarcerated. In particular, drug offenses have led to long-term imprisonment and felony criminal records for many people who face serious obstacles in reintegrating into society. Despite the growing movement for cannabis legalization and the reduction of drug possession sentences, some are still advocating for higher sentences for people convicted of drug dealing and distribution.

Virginia murder cold case heats up as man pleads guilty

A 44-year-old man has entered guilty pleas in Virginia Beach Circuit Court on charges that he participated in the killing of a mother and son in 2004. No suspects had been arrested in the case until 2018 when investigators had a breakthrough that led them to the murder suspect out of state. His arrest then enabled authorities to arrest the husband of the female victim.

Man avoids death penalty in MS-13 murder trial

A Virginia jury deliberated for about two hours on Dec. 11 before finding a 22-year-old man guilty of murder, abduction and participating in a street gang. The man was one of four individuals charged with the abduction and murder of a Lynchburg teen in March 2017. The man could have faced the death penalty when he was sentenced on Dec. 12, but he struck a last-minute plea agreement to avoid that fate. In return for waiving his right to appeal the verdict, the man received life sentences without the possibility of parole on the murder and abduction charges and a 10-year sentence on the gang participation charge.

Virginia men convicted of methamphetamine distribution

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia reported on Dec. 11 that two men accused of distributing methamphetamine in Scott, Wise and Lee Counties have been convicted. A federal jury returned guilty verdicts on charges including conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute following a four-day trial held in Abingdon. The date of the sentencing hearing for the 44-year-old and 37-year-old Pennington Gap residents was not announced.

Drugs, guns and cash found during Virginia traffic stop

Three men were taken into custody on the evening of Dec. 6 when police allegedly discovered guns, drugs and cash during a vehicle stop. This all took place on Ferndale Avenue in Petersburg, Virginia, at approximately 8:30 p.m. The traffic stop was initiated by Petersburg Police Department detectives. Initial reports do not indicate what may have prompted detectives to pull over the 2018 Lexus that the men were traveling in.

Virginia man facing drug charges after home and business searches

A 31-year-old Virginia man was taken into custody on Dec. 5 when police executed search warrants at his home and place of business. The Collinsville resident has been charged with a felony count of possession with the intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance. He was released from custody after posting a $7,500 unsecured bond according to media reports. The searches marked the end of an investigation into cocaine distribution conducted by the Henry County Sheriff's Office, the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

The racial divide in prisons is shrinking

State and federal prisons in Virginia and around the country have a disproportionately high number of African American inmates, but racial disparities in correctional facilities are less pronounced today than they were in previous decades. In 2000, the chance of being sent to a state prison for violating drug laws was 15 times higher for African Americans than it was for whites. By 2016, that figure had fallen to five times higher.

Former American Idol contestant sentenced on drug charges

A 32-year-old singer and former reality television star has been sentenced to 45 months in a federal prison for possessing fentanyl and possessing fentanyl with the intent to distribute. The sentence was announced on Nov. 21 by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Antonella Barba is best known for being among the final 16 contestants on the hit talent show 'American Idol." The New Jersey resident admitted in July to possessing 400 or more grams of the opioid.

How can you defend against potential assault charges?

Virginia has specific laws in place that make it a crime to violently touch someone without their consent or threaten physical violence in a credible manner. Assault and battery laws protect citizens from physical violence or intimidation by other people and create criminal consequences for violent offenders, especially those who commit aggravated forms of assault.

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