Passionate Defense Against Richmond Drug-Related Charges

Last updated on July 4, 2024

Drug offenses are taken very seriously by Virginia lawmakers and courts. Drug charges may be filed in conjunction with crimes against persons or property or offenses involving firearms. This makes it more of a challenge to mount an aggressive and comprehensive defense against all the allegations.

If you or a loved one is facing a drug-related criminal charge, act now. At The Law Office of Cosby & Calhoun, we are here to help. We are criminal defense lawyers Charles C. Cosby Jr. and Kevin E. Calhoun, and we will fight hard for you, seeking the best outcome possible under the circumstances. Aggressively pursuing dismissals or reductions of charges, fair plea bargains or acquittals at trial, we thoroughly investigate every case we handle and give each client the personal attention they deserve.

Controlled Substances In Virginia

Under Virginia law, controlled substances include a variety of drugs, such as:

  • Methamphetamine
  • Fentanyl
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • PCP
  • Ecstasy
  • LSD
  • Psilocybin mushrooms
  • Hashish
  • Illegally obtained prescription medications

Aside from simple possession offenses, all crimes related to controlled substances are felonies in Virginia. If you are convicted of your charges, you could face a lengthy prison sentence and an exorbitant fine – up to $500,000. These are life-changing consequences, so it is essential to enlist a drug crime defense attorney to help protect you.

Drug Crime Defense Attorneys Who Know Virginia Law

Below content written by attorney Charles C. Cosby.

The in-depth knowledge that could only be gained by years of practice has allowed us to succeed in countless drug offense cases. We work with clients facing serious drug charges, including:

  • Manufacturing
  • Conspiracy to commit various drug offenses
  • Distribution
  • Possession with intent to sell
  • Transporting controlled substances (or imitations) into the commonwealth
  • Possession of a firearm while in possession of drugs

If you have been charged with any of these offenses, we are ready to put our more than 50 combined years of criminal law experience to work for you. We have a wealth of experience in this area and are well versed in the laws governing Virginia drug offenses. For instance, Mr. Cosby has appeared as a guest speaker at a conference in Williamsburg, Virginia, called the Top Gun School, where drug prosecutors and narcotics officers receive training. They also regularly defend college students attending institutions of higher learning throughout the state.

What Should I Know About Drug Defense?

Criminal drug charges are of many different types involving a multitude of different drugs. The most serious involve distribution, possession of the drug with the intent to distribute, manufacturing, transportation across state lines and conspiracy charges. The drug charges we most typically see involve cocaine, heroin, marijuana, opiates, fentanyl and methamphetamine. There are other serious drug charges that are seen less often. Other frequent cases involve simply possessing the drug, but these charges have less serious consequences as well.

The key focus of the drug laws is to prevent individuals from selling illegal drugs, and the penalties can be extremely harsh, especially if a defendant has a prior drug distribution conviction or convictions of possession with the intent to distribute.

The cases involving distribution, possession with intent to distribute and possession generally involve the seizure of drugs in one of the following instances: a traffic stop, the search of a residence based on a search warrant, the alleged sale by a defendant to an informant or a seizure of a person lured by an informant to a location to make a sale. Even though there is a good faith exception, which can, in many instances, save a faulty search warrant, there are still legalities that can exist and can benefit a defendant.

What Is Constructive Possession?

During the execution of a search warrant, the defendant may not be present, or, even if they are present, the commonwealth can have difficulty showing that the defendant possessed the drugs found. Mere presence at the scene of a crime does not make a person guilty, though it is a factor to be considered. In drug cases where the drug is not found on the defendant’s person, the commonwealth must prove “constructive possession.”

Constructive possession, as distinguished from actual possession, is where the commonwealth must prove that the defendant not only had knowledge of the existence of the drug but also was exercising “dominion and control.” In other words, the defendant intentionally and knowingly controlled the drug. In questioning whether there is sufficient evidence for the commonwealth to prove this, defense counsel will inquire whether the drug was in plain view, meaning readily visible. It will also ask key questions involving what, if any, evidence exists showing that the defendant had ownership or exclusive control over where the drugs were found. It’ll ask if there were any records, such as a deed or apartment rental agreement, or papers or items relating to the defendant, such as mail, a driver’s license, photos or clothing, found in the room where the drugs were located. If the drugs were found in a vehicle, is the vehicle titled in the defendant’s name? They might also ask who else may have had access to that room or vehicle.

How Can Being In A Car Influence Drug Cases?

Likewise, for automobiles that are stopped, the question often arises of whether the commonwealth can prove constructive possession. This is often the case when there is more than one person in the vehicle, and it is especially a problem for the commonwealth when the drugs are under the seat, in a closed console, in the trunk or in the pocket of the door. The defense will bring into question whether there was enough evidence to establish possession given the location of the drugs, who owns the vehicle, who was operating the vehicle and whether there were any movements inside the vehicle to suggest someone inside was hiding the drugs. There are cases also where police claim drugs are tossed out the window. The defense seeks to bring into question whether there was more than one occupant in the vehicle and whether the officer was certain who threw the drugs out the vehicle.

How Is Distribution Different From Intent To Distribute?

Distribution cases frequently involve a confidential informant, though, in rare instances, they involve an undercover police officer. In both types of situations, the defense will explore whether the seller of the drug has been correctly identified. Also, the defense may inquire whether the witness to the alleged sale is telling the truth. Is there a motive to falsify? Generally, the confidential informant has been arrested and is trying to help their case by helping the police. It is not unusual that they have a history of illegal drug usage or a criminal record. In many instances, they may be paid by the police for their aid. In reference to an informant, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If the defense can establish enough weaknesses in the credibility of the informant, then the chain will break, and the commonwealth will be unable to prove its case.

With intent to distribute cases, the commonwealth seeks to prove that the amount of drugs possessed is inconsistent with personal use. In other words, the quantity of the drug possessed was more than a user of the drug normally possesses. Other factors that may exist to support an intent to distribute charge are whether the defendant possessed scales, whether the drugs were packaged in retail units, whether the defendant possessed a large sum of money, what the monetary value of the drugs was, and whether the defendant was wearing an expensive watch or jewelry or was driving an expensive vehicle. Can these factors – if they exist – be explained away by defense counsel? Oftentimes, the prosecutor seeks to have a narcotics officer qualified as an expert give an opinion that the amount of drugs found is inconsistent with personal use. The defense attorney may seek to establish that the officer’s opinion is not correct.

How Does New Technology Affect Drug Cases?

With the advent of new technology, the commonwealth seeks to strengthen the believability of the informant or other aspects of the case. The development of more sophisticated audio and visual recording equipment may serve to bolster the commonwealth’s case. The informant may be wired for sound and visual observation. The police officer may have a dash cam (camera) in their vehicle or a body cam on their person. The old saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words. Also, the police oftentimes seize a suspect’s cellphone and obtain a search warrant to get communications from the phone. They will search for text messages that show that the defendant was in communication with the informant, and, furthermore, that the content of the messages on the phone establishes drug dealing. If the defendant finds out that the commonwealth’s case against them is overwhelming solid due to audio and video and text message evidence, then the defense attorney will seek a favorable plea agreement from the commonwealth or a favorable result from the judge at a sentencing.

What Are Some Defense Strategies To Felony Drug Charges?

Some of the factors that may be addressed by the defense attorney in seeking a favorable result are as follows:

  • Is the defendant a drug addict?
  • Does the defendant need drug treatment?
  • Does the defendant have psychological problems and, if so, are they self-medicating by using illegal drugs?
  • Does the defendant need psychological treatment?
  • Was the defendant the victim of abuse, which caused the defendant to turn to drugs?
  • Is the defendant suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
  • Does the defendant have a chronic illness?
  • Was the defendant selling drugs to support their drug habit?
  • Was the defendant in dire financial straits and sold drugs to support themself and their family?

Seek Assertive Representation From Our Richmond Drug Crime Defense Attorneys

Contact us, Richmond drug defense lawyers, to learn more about our services and schedule an evaluation of your case. Start by using our online contact form or calling 804-780-0311 to learn more about our services and schedule a case evaluation.