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Caroline Virginia Drug Lawyer Possess Distribute Offense Penalty
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Baker v. Commonwealth
After the denial of his motion to dismiss one count of possessing drug with intent to distribute, within 1,000 feet of a school, in violation of Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-255.2, defendant was convicted by the Circuit Court of Caroline (Virginia) of two counts of possessing drugs with the intent to distribute, within 1,000 feet of a school, and several drug and gun charges. Defendant appealed.
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The Virginia Court made the following holding:
- Whether constitutional double jeopardy principles permit two prosecutions for simultaneously possessing two different types of drugs in violation of Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-255.2 is a pure question of law that the appellate court reviews review de novo. According to the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, U.S. Const. amend. V, and Va. Const. art. I, § 8, a person may not be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense. This prohibition provides three distinct guarantees. It protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal. It protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction. And it protects against multiple punishments for the same offense.
- When considering multiple punishments for a single transaction, the controlling factor is legislative intent. Where consecutive sentences are imposed at a single criminal trial, the role of the constitutional guarantee is limited to assuring that the court does not exceed its legislative authorization by imposing multiple punishments for the same offense.
- The Virginia legislature, in enacting the drug conspiracy statute has determined that all drug conspiracies are not the same. Conspiracies to commit more serious drug offenses are to be punished more severely. The legislative intent is implicit in the statutory reference to punishment which may not be less than the minimum punishment nor exceed the maximum punishment prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy. To determine the applicable penalty in an agreement to distribute marijuana, cocaine, and preludin, there must be reference to the penalty for each of the individual substantive offenses that are the objects of the conspiracy.
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