Attorney for Drug Charges
in Christiansburg, VA
Consult with Wade M. McNichols, Attorney at Law, to Protect Your Rights
When you need an attorney for drug charges in Christiansburg, VA, Wade M. McNichols can protect your rights. When you consult with Wade M. McNichols Attorney at Law, you receive the experience of a criminal defense lawyer. Serving residents of the Christiansburg region since 2008, you can count on his effective representation. Call Wade M. McNichols Attorney at Law today at (540) 251-3426 for a consultation.
Experienced Defense Lawyer for Controlled Substance Possession
It may not be surprising that drug charges are a common crime of prosecutors. There are important things to remember if the police contact you regarding a crime. It does not matter if it is a drug charge like controlled substance possession or another criminal offense.
Before Speaking with Police, Deputies, Investigators, or Detectives
The police are not contacting you to be friendly or to help you. They are contacting you so that you can help them do their job. Their job is to charge and/or arrest people they believe have committed crimes. If they are contacting you it is because they believe that you either committed a crime or know about someone else committing a crime. If you have any reason to think that you may have committed a crime or could be suspected of committing a crime, you should not speak with any policemen, deputies, investigators, or detectives without consulting your attorney. In dealing with the police, you should be polite and cooperative.
Identifying Information and Other Answers
You are required to answer questions about where you live and your name and identifying information. However, once the police begin asking you questions about specific events, incidents, or items, stop there. Politely tell them that you want to help them with their investigation, but that you want to talk to your attorney first. You do not have any obligation to speak with the police before you have had the chance to consult your own lawyer.
Questions You May Have About Criminal Charges
What if the police charge you with a crime and you believe you are guilty? You still have no obligation to discuss the crime with the police. You should still consult with your attorney before making any kind of statement to the police. The prosecutors and police believe they have to work to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Many seemingly minor crimes have very harsh penalties. These penalties may be lessened or avoided if you cooperate with police. However, until consulting with your attorney, there is not enough information to make the decision about cooperating with the police.
Reasonable Search Requests and Permissions
If at any time, at any place, a police officer asks you for permission to search your person, your home, your car, you should politely refuse. If an officer is asking for your permission, he believes that he does not have the right to search. If he does not have the right to search without your permission, he does not have the right to force you to let him search.
Even if you believe that you have nothing illegal for the officer to find; NEVER, EVER agree to let an officer search anything. You may not have anything illegal, but you don’t know what your friends, family or acquaintances may have left in your home or car.
More on Criminal Procedure and Drug Charges in Virginia
All criminal cases in Virginia will follow certain basic steps. The first of these occurs when the court issues a warrant, a summons, or an indictment against you. Your first court appearance will be in a General District Court or a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Arraignment is the First Appearance in Court
An arraignment is this first appearance in court and you will go before a Judge. The Judge will tell you of the charge against you and whether you have the right to an attorney. You have an absolute right to have an attorney represent you. If the charge carries the potential for jail time, and if you cannot afford an attorney, the Court will appoint one for you. If you have already hired an attorney, you should tell the Judge. Let them know about this fact when he or she asks about your plans for representation.
Trial or Preliminary Hearing?
After the Judge resolves the issue of who will be representing you, he will set a date for you to return to court. In misdemeanor cases this will be the date of your trial. In felony cases, this will be the date for your preliminary hearing. It is also possible that the Judge will set a date for you to inform the Court about whether you have hired an attorney.
Bail Hearing Options May Depend on Attorney and Court Schedules
If you are still in jail at the time of the arraignment, the Judge may also consider holding a brief hearing to determine whether to release you on bail. Generally, this will only happen if you have an attorney present in Court with you on the day of the arraignment.
If you return to jail after the arraignment, this entitles you to request a hearing to determine whether to release you on bail. These hearings are usually scheduled within a week of the arraignment, depending on the availability of your attorney and the Court’s schedule.
Hearing Procedures for Felony Charges
For those charged with a felony, the next step in your case will be the preliminary hearing. At a preliminary hearing, a General District Court or Juvenile or Domestic Relations Court judge will hold a hearing. This determines whether there is probable cause that a crime occurred and probable cause that the person charged committed the crime. Probable cause is a very low standard of proof.
In layperson’s language the Judge has to answer the following: Is it possible that a chain of events happened that constitutes a crime? If so, is it possible that the defendant is the person who committed the crime? If the Judge can answer yes to both questions, he or she can find that there is probable cause.
If There is Probable Cause
After the finding of probable cause, your certified case goes to the Grand Jury, which is required to return an indictment against you. This is followed by scheduling for trial in Circuit Court.
If the Judge does not find probable cause, then the General District Court or the Juvenile Court will dismiss the case. After dismissing the felony charge the Commonwealth’s Attorney may still seek to have you indicted directly by the Grand Jury.
Hearing Procedures for Misdemeanor Charges
For those charged with a misdemeanor, your trial will be in the General District Court or the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. The Judge will try you, without a jury. At your trial, the Judge is required to find you “not guilty” unless the Commonwealth proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you are guilty.
We can generally define “Beyond a reasonable doubt” as:
proving the case to the point that a reasonable person would have no doubt that the crime occurred; and
that the defendant was the person who committed the crime.
During the trial you (or your attorney) may ask questions of the witnesses who testify against you. You may raise objections to the evidence used against you, call witnesses and present evidence of your own.
Guilt or Innocence of Misdemeanor Charges
- If the judge finds you “not guilty” of the misdemeanor, the case is over. Prosecutors cannot bring you to court ever again for the same alleged offense. For those guilty of misdemeanor charges, the court will decide upon a punishment.
- Misdemeanors in Virginia are punishable by a maximum penalty of twelve months in jail and/or a $2,500.00 fine. Some misdemeanors, such as certain types of DUI charges and driving suspended charges carry mandatory minimum jail sentences.
- The court will impose these after a guilty verdict.
Those unhappy with the result of their misdemeanor trial have the right to appeal the case to the Circuit Court. If you appeal the case, it entitles you to a new trial in front of the Circuit Judge. You may also request a trial by jury if the misdemeanor charge carries the potential for jail time.