Woodbridge Drug Lawyer
All drug crimes are treated seriously by prosecutors and judges in Virginia because many believe drugs are the number one problem in the community. For that reason, they take the responsibility of prosecuting offenders of Virginia’s drug laws sternly.
Having a Woodbridge drug attorney on your side can help. An experienced Woodbridge attorney will know how best to challenge the government’s case against you, whether it is through constitutional, statutory, or scientific means of defense. If a person is convicted of a drug crime, they will have a permanent criminal record. Anyone who accesses their record in the future will likely make a negative presumption about that person and their character.
There are some drugs, like marijuana, for which there is a vast social movement to legalize it on a limited basis. However, Virginia has not yet legalized marijuana, therefore, drug convictions—even a conviction involving the use or possession of marijuana—are something to be taken seriously by the charged.
Woodbridge Drug Crimes
A drug lawyer in Woodbridge can provide representation to those charged with Virginia drug crimes in a variety of drug cases, The most common drug crime seen in Woodbridge is possession of marijuana.
Also commonly seen in Woodbridge is the possession of drugs considered more dangerous to the community and its users, such as heroin.
There has been a large uptick in the use of heroin and heroin-related drug offenses in Woodbridge, as well as prescription drug offenses. As such, Woodbridge’s law enforcement officers are trying to crack down on these especially.
A Woodbridge drug attorney will be committed to representing and protecting the defendant’s rights in all situations.
Virginia has adopted the federal schedule of narcotics, which means that Virginia adopts what the federal government deems a drug to be.
Skilled Woodbridge drug attorneys understand that no two drug charges are the same and that no defense is the same. They can help the defendant understand their rights and nuances of the varying categories of drug charges.
There are four categories in which drugs can be classified:
- Schedule 1 & 2 include the most addictive and dangerous drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, PCP, and meth. If a person is found to be in use or possession of those drugs, it will constitute a felony charge in Virginia.
- Schedule 3 & 4 are classified as drugs that are not as addictive or do not create a significant impairment. If a person is found to be in possession of these it will constitute a misdemeanor.
Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, however, possession will only be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, as it is considered less damaging to the body than some of the other Schedule 1 or 2 drugs.
Enforcement of Drug Laws
The most common way that law enforcement officers enforce drug laws involves circumstances surrounding a traffic stop. If a person is pulled over for any reason and the police officers determine that they smell drugs, usually marijuana, in the car, they will begin investigating the source of that odor.
Usually, that means inviting the occupants of the car to step out and trying to talk with them about that odor to figure out if they will confess to possessing marijuana. If they do not, most police officers feel, and most judges agree, that they have probable cause to conduct a search of that vehicle at the time based solely on the smell of marijuana in that vehicle.
There are many constitutional issues that could arise in drug-related cases that a Woodbridge drug lawyer may need to take into account. The first, and possibly most important constitutional issue, is the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees citizens to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and can come into play in cases where the police think they have probable cause to search for the presence of some narcotic.
People can challenge whether or not the officers had probable cause. If they are successful in doing so, anything found as a result of a search that was not conducted pursuant to some exception to the warrant requirement or the probable cause requirement will be excluded from the government’s case. In most cases, that charge would be dismissed.
The second significant constitutional concern a drug lawyer in Woodbridge will have has to do with statements made by people who have been accused of crimes. A person has a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and they have rights in many circumstances to be advised of their right to remain silent under the Miranda case.
If a person is being subjected to custodial interrogation by a police officer, they must be advised they have the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning before they are questioned. If those advisements did not occur and a person makes an incriminating statement, an attorney can challenge those statements. If the court agrees they were not conducted properly under the terms of the Fifth Amendment, the statements will be excluded from the government’s case.
Finally, the Sixth Amendment weighs heavily in cases involving drugs. The Supreme Court recently held that a person cannot be tried and convicted if the only evidence the government has is that the person was within some possession of drugs is a sheet of paper from the state lab indicating that the substance itself was an illegal drug. The law now requires that the person must be able to confront all witness against the as required by the Sixth Amendment. The Court interpreted the Sixth Amendment in these kinds of cases to mean that the person has the right to force the government to call as a witness the person who conducted the laboratory analysis, thereby enabling the defense attorney to cross-examine that laboratory analyst to determine what procedures were used and whether or not proper protocols were followed.
Contacting a Woodbridge Drug Attorney
You should contact an attorney as soon as you are charged or as soon as you find out you are being investigated for a drug crime. These potential charges can carry the possibility of serious penalties and are likewise prosecuted vigorously, so it is important you have an experienced Woodbridge drug lawyer working for you to protect your rights.
In many cases, lawyers need to get discovery and certificates of analysis to be able to determine whether or not the government is going to be able to adequately prove their case according to the laws of Virginia. Giving an attorney as much time as possible to fully investigate your case will give you the best chance of success on your trial date.