Virginia Drugs Attorneys Violation Code 18.2-308 Fairfax Prince William Loudoun Richmond Beach Fredericksburg Lynchburg

Virginia Drugs Attorneys Violation Code 18.2-308 Fairfax Prince William Loudoun Richmond Beach Fredericksburg Lynchburg

Taylor v. Commonwealth

Facts:

After a bench trial in the Circuit Court of Fairfax, Virginia, defendant was convicted of possession of drugs with the intent to distribute and possessing a firearm while possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute (Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.4(C)). He appealed the latter conviction.

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Virginia Drugs Attorneys Violation Code 18.2-308

Virginia Drugs Attorneys Violation Code 18.2-308

Holdings:

The Virginia Court made the following holding:
  • In interpreting Virginia’s basic statutes proscribing possession of drugs, e.g. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-248 (simple possession); Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-250 (possession with intent to distribute); or possession of a firearm, e.g. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2 (proscribing possession of a firearm by a convicted felon), the applicable legal principles are clear: Possession may be actual or constructive. Establishing constructive possession requires proof that the defendant was aware of both the presence and character of the item and that it was subject to his dominion and control. A person’s ownership or occupancy of premises on which the subject item is found, proximity to the item, and statements or conduct concerning the location of the item are probative factors to be considered in determining whether the totality of the circumstances supports a finding of possession. A defendant may constructively possess an item or items in his residence even when he is not on the premises. Possession of the means to exercise dominion and control over an item gives the possessor dominion and control over the item itself.
  • The existence of a heightened punishment under Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.4(C) for possession of a firearm while possessing drugs does not compel the conclusion that possession of the drugs or the firearm must be actual rather than constructive. Proof of constructive possession is sufficient to support a conviction under § 18.2-308.4(C).
  • Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.4 requires proof of a nexus between the firearm and the drugs that the defendant actually or constructively possesses. The purpose of § 18.2-308.4 is to provide heightened penalties for possessing or using a firearm in conjunction with the specified drug crime–simple possession under § 18.2-308.4(A) and (B), and possession with intent to distribute under § 18.2-308.4(C). Thus, § 18.2-308.4(C) requires proof of a nexus between the drug offense and the firearm possession–proof that possession of the firearm somehow furthers, advances, or helps the defendant to commit the offense of possessing a controlled substance with an intent to distribute it. Where the accused has actual possession of a firearm and displays it in a threatening manner while consummating a drug sale, proof of the nexus is obvious. In contrast, where the offense is the possession of drugs with intent to distribute, additional evidence is required to establish the requisite nexus between possession of the drugs and possession of the firearm.

We have client meeting locations in Fairfax Prince William Richmond Loudoun Beach Fredericksburg Lynchburg

We will do our absolute best to help you get the best result possible based on the facts of your case. Our law firm has the necessary experience to assist you with this matter.