Federal Drug Prosecutions in Virginia
Every charge presented to a federal court has a list of elements associated with it. Each element must be proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, if a person were in possession of narcotics with the intent to distribute, it is incumbent upon the government to prove, number one, that that person possessed the drugs in question; number two the drugs in question were in fact drugs; number three, that the person intended to distribute those drugs.
It depends entirely upon the nature of the charge but the important thing to remember is each and every element must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and if the government fails in any element, the jury must acquit the defendant at trial. An experienced Virginia federal drug lawyer can help a defendant find this reasonable doubt.
Proving Drug Allegations
The prosecution will need to present evidence at trial to prove drug allegations. This evidence can come in several different forms. Testimonial evidence can come from investigators who were assigned to investigate the case, co-defendants who may have previously been charged and made deals with the government to testify against the accused individual or confidential informants who might have been previously charged with separate crimes having nothing to do with this alleged crime and are now assisting the government.
The prosecution could also use physical evidence. The government will seize things such as cell phones, computers, and any documents that may be associated with the crime being charged. All of these pieces of evidence can be very important in a drug case.
Federal Prosecutors in the Fourth Circuit
The prosecutors in the Fourth Circuit are talented lawyers that are not merely seeking a conviction. A good prosecutor is one who understands the job is to find justice and realizes that can take many forms. Their role is obviously to prosecute cases; however, many prosecutors in the Fourth Circuit are able to see the bigger picture and realize that sometimes justice might not necessarily require a conviction on the alleged charge.
There are, unfortunately, some ruthless prosecutors who want to put as many people in prison for as long as possible. They exist in every jurisdiction. However, generally the talented prosecutors in the Fourth Circuit tend to be more willing to focus on the bigger picture of finding justice versus driving up the number of convictions and simply putting people in prison.
Prosecutors and Judges
Prosecutors in the Fourth Circuit continuously see the same judges. Because they prosecute, they have more cases with these judges than the defense attorneys. There are also fewer prosecutors than defense lawyers.
Therefore, the judges and prosecutors know each other fairly well and the judges tend to be familiar with the prosecutors tactics and how they go about trying their cases. Because of this familiarity between the judges and the prosecutors, a good defense lawyer understands the importance of knowing the judges and the judges knowing them.
This relationship with the judges is an advantage to the prosecution and demonstrates why a person charged with a serious felony whether a drug case or any other case in federal court, needs the assistance of an attorney who is known around the courthouse.
The Trial Process in Federal Criminal Cases
The trial process can be very stressful for any defendant because in some cases, the rest of their life is on the line. As such, it is important that they understand there are very formal, very specific rules to the process. Their lawyer will prepare for each step, keeping them informed, so that they are familiar with what is going on, the motions being made, and under what rules things are proceeding.
Having a defense lawyer keeping the defendant informed of the process will help alleviate some of the stress. Obviously, no amount of preparation can take away the stress entirely, but the right amount of preparation can certainly minimize the stress that going through a federal trial will have on the defendant and their family.