Henrico VA Possession of Marijuana & DUI Dismissed:From Stop to Not Guilty
DISCLAIMER: CASE RESULTS DEPEND ON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE AND DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE
Riley & Wells Attorneys-At-Law successfully represented a client in the Henrico Courts for allegations of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Possession of Marijuana leading to a DISMISSAL. Our client was initially pulled over by the Henrico County Division of Police for travelling 59 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour speed zone. There was no evidence of weaving, running off the road or anything else to indicate impaired driving. Below is a step-by-step explanation of that representation.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol Investigation
The police officer made contact with our client, secured the driver’s license and vehicle registration, and asked our client if he had been drinking alcohol earlier in the evening. Our client was honest and had indicated that he had been drinking beer earlier at a friend’s house. The police officer became suspicious that our client was possibly in violation of the DUI law after he admitted to recently drinking alcohol. NOTE: Many motorists do not know that they have a constitutional right to not answer a policeman’s questions.
Field Sobriety Exercises
The police officer continued asking our client a series of other questions and begin to administer various field sobriety exercises. The most common field sobriety exercises are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the One Leg Stand, and the 9 Step Walk and Turn. In addition to these popular exercises, there are countless other means that a police officer may use to gather evidence of intoxication. Our client answered questions and performed the requested exercises. NOTE: A motorist is not required to perform such exercises.
Preliminary Breath Test
A preliminary breath test may be offered to any person suspected of DUI, but such person is not required to submit to such a test. In essence, this test is for probable cause purposes only. This is often the last test a police officer offers to the motorist before making the decision to arrest for driving under the influence. Our client submitted a breath sample that was analyzed to have a blood alcohol content of 0.10. It was at this point during the investigation that our client was arrested. NOTE: A refusal to submit to a preliminary breath test is not evidence in a DUI prosecution.
Search Incident to Arrest
Search incident to a lawful arrest is a legal principle that allows police to perform a warrantless search of an arrested person and the area within the arrestee’s immediate control. It was during this search that the police officer found a very small amount of marijuana in the center console of the vehicle inside a sunglasses case. Marijuana is a criminal offense in Virginia. Our client indicated that he did not know anything about the marijuana recovered by the police. Our client was also arrested for Possession of Marijuana.
Breath Test at the Police Station
Probable cause evidence of DUI on a public highway triggers the implied consent law and the requirement to provide a breath sample for testing. An unreasonable refusal to submit a breath sample for testing may generate an additional charge of Refusal. Our client provided breath samples for testing as instructed. The breath test result was analyzed to contain a blood alcohol content of 0.09. Cases involving a blood test are handled differently. NOTE: Some motorists elect to refuse the breath test to avoid providing the prosecution with more evidence of intoxication.
Magistrate Issues Arrest Warrants & Determines Initial Bond
The police officer is required to take the arrested motorist before the Magistrate who determines if there is probable cause evidence for an arrest warrant to be issued. If such warrant is issued, then the Magistrate must also make an initial bond determination to ensure the motorist will appear in Court as instructed and is not a danger if released. In our client’s case, arrest warrants were issued, our client was processed, committed to the jail for several hours and was forbidden to travel outside the state.
Jail & Bail Bondsmen
In most DUI cases, the motorist – now inmate – has been committed to the local jail. This process serves two purposes in DUI cases: 1) to sober up; and, 2) to await being bailed or bonded out of jail. Bail is the pretrial release of a person upon certain terms or conditions set by a judicial officer. Bond is the actual posting or promise to pay a specific sum as ordered by a judicial officer to assure a defendant’s compliance with the terms of bail. There are three different types of bond commonly seen in Virginia: (1) personal recognizance, (2) unsecured and (3) secured.
Administrative Suspension of Driving Privileges
If the breath test result contains a blood alcohol content of at least 0.08 or there is a refusal to submit to the breath test, then the privilege to operate a motor vehicle is immediately suspended. The suspension is for 7 days unless the arrest is for a second or subsequent offense. Our client lost driving privileges for 7 days. Restricted driving is not permissible.
The first hearing before the Court after the arrest is called an arraignment. The arraignment is a formal reading of a criminal charging document in the presence of the defendant to inform the defendant of the charges against him or her and to advise the defendant of the constitutional right to counsel. In many instances, the defendant will have secured representation before the arraignment, but it is not necessary. A trial date is set at the arraignment and the case begins to move forward.
Secure Quality Representation
An experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney will know how to best represent his or her client. Select representation wisely. REMEMBER: An arrest is NOT a conviction. Our lawyers use every tool the law allows to best protect our client and to prepare the best defense possible. Each case will require gathering all the facts, filing and arguing various motions, conducting legal research and preparing solid defenses that are actually recognized by the Courts.
The Criminal Trial & Plea Negotiations with the Commonwealth Attorney
Riley & Wells Attorneys-At-Law prepare every case for trial, but not every case goes to trial. In some instances, we can persuade the prosecution with our theory of the case, certain evidence or anticipated arguments that generate a plea agreement offer from the prosecution that would be in our client’s best interest to accept rather than taking the case to trial with a Judge or Jury. In this case, we proceeded to a bench trial after pretrial negotiations were unsuccessful.
Henrico County Judge Finds our Client NOT GUILTY
Criminal trials can be complicated. There may be several witnesses with detailed facts. The lawyers often object to evidence being offered in the case. Some arguments make sense to the lay person while others are very technical and are only understood by a highly trained criminal law attorney. In this case, we were able to convince the Judge that our client was neither intoxicated nor had an excessive blood alcohol level at the time of driving and that the existence of marijuana in the vehicle was without our client’s knowledge.
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By Mitch Wells 4/1/2017