Every criminal law case is different. Indeed, every case is different even within the same area of law. Three drug crime cases handled recently by the same court on the Eastern Shore perhaps serve as an example.
Outcomes were different for each, but what was consistent across the board was that the defendants had the benefit of legal counsel. All of the cases were dealt with early this week.
The first involved a 38-year-old man from Cape Charles. He pleaded guilty to two counts of cocaine distribution in Northampton Circuit Court.
In the process of the court hearing, the defendant's attorney asked that his client be allowed to remain free on bond pending his sentencing. He told the judge that the man has a family and a job in Virginia Beach and only a limited criminal record.
The judge acknowledged the positive aspects of the man's situation, but noted the conviction could result in an 80-year term in prison. He ordered the man held. In the meantime, it may be that the defense will seek to negotiate more limited terms of sentence.
A conviction earlier this year for distribution of cocaine and marijuana resulted in a nine month jail term for another Virginia Beach man. Once again, the defense raised the man's status of steady employment. The circumstances were duly noted by the judge, but the defendant will have to serve his term and an indefinite period of probation afterward.
In the last case, a 25-year-old Cape Charles man who has been in jail for more than five months was released. He had been convicted of possession of opioids and drug paraphernalia.
During his hearing, the man reported that he has attended AA meetings and church services regularly during his incarceration. He said he intended to keep that up. The judge sentenced him to time served, but placed him on indefinite probation. He must maintain good behavior for the next 10 years.
No one can predict the outcome of any case, but having legal counsel serves to ensure that a defendant's rights are protected.
Source: Delmarvanow.com, "Man pleads guilty to drug distribution charge," Nancy Drury Duncan, Jan. 13, 2014