Chesterfield County Drug Case Process

The most common place we see drug offense charges are as results of a traffic stop. Often, the person is pulled over for a simple stop like running a red light or speeding and an officer gets suspicion or probable cause to search or consent a search. In other cases, police use confidential informants or undercover officers to pursue these distribution charges.

One change over the years with result to these drug charges is the availability of alternative sentencing. Prosecutors and courts are more likely to use alternative sentencing or first offender type treatment on simple possession cases, especially when they involve drugs that are considered lighter such as marijuana. Talk with a local Chesterfield County drug lawyer to discuss how to defend against the specific charge you are facing.

Chesterfield County Drug Cases

Chesterfield drug cases are heard in the Chesterfield Courthouse off of Iron Bridge Rd. Misdemeanor drug cases are heard in the General District Court and felony cases are heard in the circuit court. Most Chesterfield drug cases, in particular possession cases or possession with intent cases, are bench trials, however the larger scale distribution cases or volume dealer cases typically involve juries.

Duration of Chesterfield County Drug Cases

A Chesterfield drug case can take anywhere from 60 days to up to a year depending on what type of case it is. If it is a misdemeanor case, it usually takes between 60 and 90 days from the date of arrest. If it is a felony case, it usually takes a minimum of six months to a year to handle the case and finalize it.

Consenting to Police Street Searches

You do not need to consent to a search if an officer stops you on the street. If an officer has reasonable suspicion that an offense occurred, they can often conduct the search without your consent. They can also conduct an investigatory search if they feel their safety is threatened.

While an attorney can often challenge the search in court, officers have been given free reign by the courts and by the Supreme Court to conduct these types of searches if they feel that their safety is in danger or if there is suspicion of criminal activity.

What Prosecutors Must Prove

In a drug offense case, the prosecutor has to show that you are either in possession of or distributing a drug. They have to show what the drug was. They will typically do this through analysis from the Department of Forensic Science. They also need to show the purpose of the whether possession was for personal use or if the possession was with intent.

If it is a distribution or an intent case, the prosecution needs to show the intent to sell was present. They can do this by showing if tools of the trade such as baggies, cash or scales were found. In a distribution case, the prosecution will try to provide evidence of actual sales to confidential informants or undercover officers.

Evidence Prosecution Will Present

In drug offense cases, prosecutors will typically present evidence of what the drug is, a certificate of an analysis as to what the drug was tested for, what it tested positive for and the actual weight of the drug. They will present testimony from officers and confidential informants about sales or buys that were made as well as searches conducted. Prosecutors will also present evidence of other items that might have been found with the drugs such as cash, baggies or scales. They will present evidence of whether the drugs were intended for personal use or intended to be sold.

Controversial Elements at Trial

The most hotly contested issues in a drug case are typically issues over how the evidence or the drugs were obtained. This involves Fourth Amendment issues regarding search and seizure and whether there was probable cause for the search of a person or property, reasonable articulable suspicion to lead to such a search, or whether the evidence was properly obtained by the officers in question and/or if a warrant was properly carried out. How the state obtained their evidence is usually the most hotly contested issue at trial.

Constitutional Issues

The most common constitutional issues that can come up in drug cases are probable cause or Fourth Amendment issues regarding search and seizure. A Chesterfield County drug attorney can determine whether a search of your property, your home or your vehicle was either improperly done or a constitutional violation. If we can show that such they can show that a violation occurred, they can usually get any evidence obtained from such a search thrown out of court which can result in either a dismissal of the charge or reduction of the charges.

Sentencing for Chesterfield County Drug Charges

In Chesterfield, sentencing on drug cases is handled in a number of ways. First, a person’s prior record is considered. If it is a first offense, in many cases, the court and prosecutors will look toward treatment versus jail. If it is an issue or possession with intent issue, the penalties and the possible prosecution is much more serious. If there is an issue with subsequent prior or prior offenses and/or aggravating factors like sale near a school or possession where a weapon is also found, the court will take a more vigorous stance in the prosecution of the case.