Chesterfield County Drug Trials

Once you are arrested on a drug charge, the prosecutor and defense attorney will follow a process that moves the case through the Virginia criminal justice system toward a trial. If convicted, you could land in prison, face hefty fines, and have difficulty finding a job or place to live after you are released.

Your sentence can be harsher if you are a repeat offender or possess certain drugs in specific quantities with a presumption that you will distribute them. Because Chesterfield County drug trials are crucial for determining your fate, an experienced drug defense lawyer should be involved to explain the process and represent your rights.

How a Defendant Gets to a Trial

Arrests may occur with a warrant when a suspect is on law enforcement’s radar, or without a warrant if the suspect is caught in a drug sting. Soon after, the suspect is brought before a magistrate who can grant pretrial release by setting bail and possibly restricting travel. The magistrate can also send the suspect to jail pending a hearing in the Chesterfield General District Court. A skilled Chesterfield County attorney who is engaged early in the drug trial process could argue for bail to be granted.

The Preliminary Hearing

The General District Court preliminary hearing determines probable cause to hold the suspect for a grand jury hearing and trial in Circuit Court. This is true whether the magistrate has granted bail or not. If the Court finds probable cause that the suspect engaged in felonious activities, it will certify the charges to be presented to the grand jury. If the charges are misdemeanors, the General District Court will preside over the trial. A tenacious attorney might be able to successfully waive the preliminary hearing if felony charges can be negotiated down to misdemeanors.

The Grand Jury

After the preliminary hearing, a panel of five to seven Commonwealth citizens who have resided in Chesterfield for at least six months will be convened to indict the suspect after agreeing there is probable cause for felony charges. The grand jury issues a ‘true bill,’ and the case moves to Chesterfield Circuit Court for trial.

The Trial

If the accused enters a not guilty plea, the case is set for trial before a 12-person jury unless the defendant waives the right and agrees to a bench trial before a judge, which must have the Commonwealth’s approval.

In criminal cases, prosecutors are tasked with proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt to convict the defendant. An aggressive defense attorney could look for faults in the prosecutor’s case and challenge them when necessary.

Defenses to Drug Charges in Chesterfield County

An attorney should offer defenses to the charges in order to convince the jury that the defendant is not guilty or that law enforcement violated constitutional rights. Some potential defenses include:

  • For constructive possession of drugs (found nearby but not on the defendant), an attorney could argue the drugs were not the defendant’s
  • For distribution charges after drugs are found on a defendant, the defense could argue the drugs were meant for personal use
  • Fourth Amendment violations for improper search and seizure
  • Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, which could have been violated if the police did not properly administer the Miranda warning
  • Sixth Amendment right to question witnesses brought by the prosecution, such as a lab employee who tests and certifies the drug at issue

Because a defendant has so much at stake when accused of drug charges and standing trial for it, enlisting competent representation early in the ordeal is crucial. Our lawyers are familiar with Chesterfield County Circuit Court procedures and could assist those who are facing drug trials.

Let a Chesterfield County Attorney Represent You at a Drug Trial

Not all attorneys are the same when it comes time to defend someone at a criminal trial. The Commonwealth is focused on imposing long prison sentences and hefty fines. You need an advocate focused on your rights. If you have been arrested, charged, or indicted for a drug crime, you will need an attorney familiar with Chesterfield County drug trials. Call today to hear how we might be able to help you.