Politicians Approve Tough New Criminal Laws
Republicans in the General Assembly worked with Attorney General Jason Miyares to pass a sweeping package of criminal laws.
Most of the roughly one dozen bills relate to prescription drug crimes and probation matters. Others include a “Swatting” bill which targets people who falsely summon law enforcement officers in order to harass others, an extension of the strangulation law, streamlined protective order renewal, and expansion of the sexual extortion law to cover social media posts.
“During their two years in control of the General Assembly, Democrats acted as if police were the enemy and criminals were victims, while victims of crime were ignored. Predictably, violent crime in our cities skyrocketed,” said Speaker Todd Gilbert. “Republicans can and will make Virginia’s communities safer,” added Rob Bell, chair of the House Courts of Justice Committee.
Since the opioid epidemic began, the seemingly endless War on Drugs has turned in a different direction. Authorities once concentrated on cocaine, heroin, and other illegal street drugs. They still regularly make arrests for the possession and distribution of these substances.
However, much of the focus has shifted to semi-legal opioid pain pills, like Oxicontin and Vicodin. The advent of synthetic opioids, like Fentanyl, took things up a notch.
Prescription drug fraud, illegal prescription drug possession, and prescription drug trafficking are the three most common offenses our Leesburg criminal defense attorneys handle most frequently.
Basically, prescription drug fraud is making any false statement to obtain painkillers. That false statement could be lying to a doctor.
Much more frequently, however, these cases focus on altering labels. Practically anyone with a good laser printer can make a realistic-looking label. These cases don’t require non-officer witnesses. However, they do require search warrants or a search warrant exception. Some common exceptions include:
- Consent: Officers don’t need search warrants if owners, or apparent owners, voluntarily consent to a property search. An apparent owner is someone like a driver who doesn’t legally own the vehicle. Voluntary consent usually means an agreement that’s free from any coercion.
- Plain View: If officers see drugs or other suspected contraband in plain view, they don’t need a search warrant to seize it. This exception only applies if officers were legally in that place at that time.
- Stop and Frisk: This controversial exception allows officers to detain people and pat them down for weapons, if officers reasonably suspect that the defendant is involved in criminal activity. During this search, officers may seize any contraband they find in plain view.
Search warrant issues also apply in drug possession cases. Additionally, mere proximity isn’t enough to prove possession in criminal court. Prosecutors must also establish knowledge and control.
Prosecutors often use circumstantial evidence, like guns or money, to elevate possession charges to trafficking charges. Incidentally, these charges could hold up in court even if no money changes hands. Giving unused pills to a friend is drug trafficking.
Early Discharge from Probation or Parole
Almost all defendants are placed on supervised release. These conditions, such as monthly or weekly check-ins and frequent drug tests, are burdensome to say the least. Usually, a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer can file a motion for early discharge. Frequently, if the judge grants this motion, the judge also allows the defendant to withdraw his/her plea.
Technically, a judge could end court supervision at almost any time. What the judge did, the judge can undo.
Generally, the defendant must have completed at least a third of the supervision period, and the defendant must have paid all fines and met all other obligations, like community service hours. Additionally, the defendant’s supervision officer must agree to the motion, or at least agree not to oppose it.
Connect With a Thorough Loudoun County Lawyer
There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. We have several office locations in Northern Virginia.