When in-custody defendants make their initial appearance before a judge, they may present arguments concerning the conditions of their release pending their next court date. The judge may decide to release the defendant with conditions, impose bail, or withhold bail altogether. The severity of the charged offense, the defendant's prior record, the risk of flight and non-appearance at the next court date and the chance that the defendant will commit further crimes if released are just some of the factors that can go in to the judge's decision.
The judge does not always side with the defendant, however. This was the case in a recent bail hearing for a defendant from Virginia Beach. Appearing before a federal judge, the defendant argued his case, but the judge ordered him held without bond. The judge mentioned the defendant's prior record, which includes a number of probation violations and convictions for drug offenses. The judge stated there was too great a risk that the defendant would engage in additional criminal activity if released on bond.
In the present case, the defendant was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The allegations stem from the discovery of one kilogram of cocaine during a traffic stop of the car in which the defendant was traveling. The stop was apparently initiated by information gleaned from a wiretap of the defendant's phone. Law enforcement officials allegedly heard the defendant talking with another person about a suspected drug transaction, though it is not entirely clear how much time passed between the conversation and the traffic stop.
Police must follow a number of regulations when obtaining a wiretap and initiating a traffic stop. These regulations are in place to secure and protect the constitutional rights we all possess. When the actions of law enforcement violate those rights, incriminating evidence obtained from those actions may be excluded from evidence in a court of law.
Source: The Virginian-Pilot, "Judge denies bond on drug charges in Norfolk," Scott Daugherty, Sept. 18, 2012
• Drug charges can carry significant penalties, including fines and potential terms of incarceration. You can find out more by visiting our Virginia Beach drug possession defense page.