Defendants in Virginia criminal cases have very limited discovery rights. While in other states a defendant may be entitled to things like police reports, Virginia provides no right to discovery beyond the minimum that is required for due process under the U.S. Constitution—namely, the right to disclosure of exculpatory evidence.
While there are certainly Commonwealth’s Attorneys offices that practice “open file” discovery, and readily provide information to defense attorneys contained within police reports and witness statements that they are not required to disclose, not every office practices that way. Furthermore, unless the evidence is known by the defense to exist, it is up to the Commonwealth’s Attorney and their judgment to determine what evidence is exculpatory and subject to disclosure absent a court order.
As you can imagine, we defense attorneys have the goal of obtaining as much information as possible in order … Read More »
Virginia law prohibits both the illegal possession of controlled substances and possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances. Both offenses are addressed under Virginia Code Section 18.2-248. For a breakdown of the penalty ranges associated with drug possession and distribution, see our website pages on possession and distribution, respectively. Conviction of possession with intent to distribute requires that the Commonwealth prove that an individual “intentionally and consciously possessed the controlled substance, either actually or constructively, with knowledge of its nature and character, together with the intent to distribute it.”
To prove intent to distribute, the Commonwealth has to introduce sufficient evidence showing that the substances at issue were intended for distribution and not just for the individual’s own personal use. Barring an admission by the defendant, how does the Commonwealth prove an individual’s intent with regard to the substances he or … Read More »
The simple possession of marijuana may no longer be a crime in Washington state or Colorado, but it remains a criminal offense in Virginia. Furthermore, there is a clear line in the sand across which simple possession of marijuana becomes possession with intent to distribute marijuana: ½ ounce. Simple possession of marijuana, a violation of Virginia Code Section 18.2-250.1 is a misdemeanor; possession with intent to distribute more than ½ ounce becomes a felony.
If a person is in possession of ½ ounce or less of marijuana, the likelihood is that that he or she will be charged with simple possession. A first offense for simple possession carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail, a $500 fine and a 6 month driver’s license suspension. A second or subsequent conviction becomes a Class 1 Misdemeanor, which means that a person … Read More »