Richmond VA Drug Distribution Lawyer Sara Gaborik
IF YOU ARE FACING DRUG DISTRIBUTION CHARGES, YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED VIRGINIA CRIMINAL LAWYER
Do you need a Richmond VA Drug Distribution Lawyer? As you consider Richmond criminal lawyers or those who serve nearby areas like Henrico, Essex, Prince George, or Chesterfield, you will discover that some attorneys handle Virginia drug distribution cases while others do not. Sara Gaborik has represented defendants in drug distribution cases for years throughout Richmond and the surrounding areas. She has the experience, drive, knowledge and skill to defend you aggressively.
Virginia legislators have chosen to impose substantial penalties for possession and distribution of controlled substances. If you have been charged with possession and/or intent to distribute, this information will help you understand some of the underlying issues you face.
Virginia Code § 18.2-248 makes it illegal to manufacture, sell, give to someone, or otherwise distribute a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance. Schedule I, Virginia Code § 54.1-3446, and schedule II, Virginia Code § 54.1-3448, include long lists of substances for which possession and distribution carry criminal penalties in Virginia. Some of the most common prosecutions for substances found under these schedules include those for possession and/or distribution of:
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
- Methamphetamine (crystal meth)
A first conviction under Virginia Code § 18.2-248 can result in a sentence of five to forty years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. An experienced attorney can be essential here because this charge is not eligible for dismissal under the first offender statute and there are relatively few alternative sentencing programs available. It is important for a criminal defense attorney to challenge this type of charge because a conviction will place you at risk for substantial jail time, license suspension, and a lengthy suspended sentence.
In July of 2012 the Virginia General Assembly amended the Code to enhance the penalties for second, third, and subsequent offenses. In particular, a second conviction under Code § 18.2-248 carries a mandatory three-year sentence and up to life in prison. Additionally, the Court may impose a fine of up to $500,000. A third offense now carries a mandatory ten-year sentence plus the potential for an additional $500,000 fine.
Mandatory means the judge or jury has no discretion on the minimum amount of time served, whether they agree with the sentence or not. The stark reality is that a second-time offender must serve at least three years in prison and a third-time offender must serve at least ten years.
DISTRIBUTION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE IN RICHMOND, HENRICO, AND CENTRAL VIRGINIA
If you are charged with distribution of a controlled substance, chances are, you were targeted for the arrest. Law enforcement agencies lack the resources to police every street corner full time. To improve their chances of obtaining arrests that will lead to convictions, they often use confidential informants. Most arrests for distribution are made in connection with informants and can even include evidence developed by using informants’ active participation to secure arrests.
Typically, an informant uses marked money to purchase drugs from an individual while law enforcement records the transaction with a video camera. The prosecutor will use the video as a key piece of evidence at trial, on behalf of the Commonwealth, so a defendant must be prepared to challenge the credibility of the confidential informant and find possible motives for that informant to lie. It is not unusual, for example, to find that an informant is paid or is facing criminal charges of his own and has agreed to make the recorded drug buy in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Technological advancements make cases involving videotaped transactions more and more difficult to fight. If you have been charged with possession or distribution and the Commonwealth has a videotape showing you involved in a drug transaction, you will need a strong Virginia criminal lawyer on your side who has years of experience challenging such cases. Sara Gaborik has that experience and knows how to present information to a jury to challenge such evidence.
DISTRIBUTION AS AN ACCOMMODATION IN RICHMOND, HENRICO, CHESTERFIELD, AND CENTRAL VIRGINIA
When most people think of possession and distribution of controlled substances, they picture drug dealers on street corners, selling cocaine or heroin to their customers. But Virginia’s laws extend far beyond the scope of such transactions.
Simply giving someone a controlled substance violates the law. Sharing a lawfully obtained prescription medication with another person, including a friend or family member, can lead to your being prosecuted under Virginia Code section 18.2-248 for distributing controlled substances illegally, even if your intentions were noble. So though your friend or family member is experiencing terrible pain or anxiety, it is still unlawful to share your Vicodin or Xanax.
Section 18.2-248 also makes it a crime to act as an intermediary in a drug transaction. The act of informing a friend where to obtain controlled substances unlawfully can subject you to prosecution under this section.
SEARCH AND SEIZURE OF EVIDENCE: VIOLATIONS OF YOUR CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED RIGHTS
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees individuals protection against unlawful search and seizure. This protection, which applies in every state, is aimed squarely at ensuring that law enforcement conducts its investigations fairly and properly. It covers government searches of your home, other property in your possession, your car, and even your body.
Judicial scrutiny of law enforcement search and seizure methods and practices is a key part of the criminal justice system. The prosecutor can and will use lawfully obtained evidence against you. But what happens if some of the Commonwealth’s case is based on unlawfully obtained evidence?
The judge generally knows little or nothing about what happened before your arrest and will not sift through the facts of your case and law enforcement’s actions unless someone demands such scrutiny. It is your attorney’s responsibility to challenge improperly obtained evidence. Courts consider legal challenges to searches and seizures every day and exclude improperly obtained evidence, even if it is highly incriminating. In some cases, exclusion of certain evidence can be so legally significant that the prosecutor will no longer have sufficient evidence to maintain the charges against you and the case must be dismissed.
Because the right to be free of unreasonable government searches and seizures is central to our criminal justice system, appellate courts regularly review trial court evidentiary decisions. Appellate decisions, including those of the Supreme Court, contour the law—and police procedures—nationwide. Most of the changes in interpretation favor law enforcement. Sometimes, however, a conviction can be overturned because it was based on improperly obtained evidence.
With the stakes so high, it is critical that the attorney you hire remains current on this ever-changing aspect of criminal procedure. Sara Gaborik has successfully challenged Fourth Amendment violations in General District and Circuit Courts and stays current on changes in the law to ensure that her clients remain protected.
CALL FOR A LEGAL CONSULTATION
Sara Gaborik has represented defendants in drug distribution cases throughout Richmond, Henrico, Essex, Chesterfield, Prince George, and surrounding areas for over a decade. If you have been charged with drug distribution and would like a legal consultation, call Ms. Gaborik today at (804) 334-4351 or (804) 780-3080.