Wheeling Criminal Law Blog

Navigating the law after a cocaine charge

With prescription drugs and marijuana taking the front seat in regards to drug concerns in the country, cocaine is nevertheless a prominent matter. West Virginia is not exempt from this concern -- in fact, it is among one of the states with the highest number of drug-related problems. Despite other drugs having moved under the spotlight in recent years, individuals have a right to protect themselves when caught possessing or manufacturing cocaine in any amount. There are always other sides to a story. Drug possession and manufacturing penalties can bring years of damaged personal reputations, struggle with professions and compromised wellbeing.

In the case of a St. Albans resident, this drug charge became a reality. In April of last year, The Charleston Gazette-Mail shared the story of a West Virginia man who was subject to police monitoring when law enforcement suspected him of manufacturing cocaine in his home. In addition to his drug trafficking charge, the man was also found guilty of possessing illegal firearms. The 47-year-old developer, business and bar owner admitted to having coca leaves shipped to his home through the U.S. Mail. As for the man's specific plea deal, his advisory sentence alone called for 60 months in prison.

Are field sobriety tests accurate?

With the holiday season well underway, residents in West Virginia will want you pay special attention to the choices they make when it comes to how they get to and from holiday celebrations. Law enforcement agencies often increase patrol efforts to identify and arrested suspected drunk drivers at this time of year. If you are ever one of these people that is stopped and eventually asked by an officer to perform certain tests, you should know that these tests are not completely accurate.

According to FieldSobrietyTests.org, of the three standardized tests approved for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the most accurate test is the one that measures an involuntary jerking motion of your eye. This test is at best said to be accurate in 77 percent of cases. The walk-and-turn test has an accuracy rate of 68 percent while the test that requires you to balance perfectly on one leg while counting out loud has an accuracy rate of only 65 percent.

Calling an expert witness in your case

When defending yourself against criminal charges in a Wheeling courtroom, it is easy to feel as though the cards are stacked against you. Several of the clients that we here at The Scott C. Brown Law Office have worked with in the past can attest to the fact the prosecutors often have extensive resources to utilize when arguing cases. Among these resources are experts in various scientific fields related to criminology. Their testimonies can often carry a lot of weight. To counter them, however, you are permitted to call expert witnesses of your own. 

According to the West Virginia Rules of Evidence, expert witnesses can be called upon to offer an opinion if that opinion will help to understand evidence that has been presented or to help clarify a fact at issue. A witness may be qualified as an expert based on any of the following five elements: 

  • Knowledge
  • Skill
  • Experience
  • Training
  • Education

Underage drunk driving has West Virginia residents concerned

The residents of Wheeling and surrounding areas such as Moundsville and Glen Dale include young people who attend the local high schools and colleges. Many also drive, and law officers arrest some for driving under the influence of alcohol.

One of the penalties for underage DUI in the state of West Virginia is license revocation for up to 60 days. Parents may not be aware that in order to get the license back, their son or daughter must also complete a safety and treatment program at his or her own expense.

Man dies from suspected overdose; two may be charged

Many West Virginia residents may well have heard how the President of the United States recently indicated that what some refer to as an opioid problem is actually now a public health emergency. The number of people who have become addicted to these medications has increased over the years and many of these people have even died as a result of their addictions. In some areas the people who are said to have provided the drugs to a person could potentially be charged as criminals in these cases.

An example of this can be seen in Hernshaw in Kanawha County. A deceased man's body was reportedly found in a grocery story parking lot and it is believed the man died from an overdose involving heroin. Few details are known exactly about how much heroin might have been in the man's system or really how and why he may have obtained or used it. However, two people have been arrested in conjunction with this case.

What constitutes as domestic terrorism in west virginia?

With today's political climate, the word "terror" has taken on many meanings. Violent attacks have spread nationwide, leaving behind more questions than answers. As many states, including West Virginia, have begun to reassess domestic terrorism laws, countless individuals are wrongly accused of terrorist acts. Where does one drawn the line in such circumstances, and where does an individual turn when he or she is accused of a threat or crime they did not commit?

WV Public Broadcasting reported last month the constituents that make up domestic terrorism, first acknowledging America's general anxiety on the matter. And while many officials have provided their opinions on violent attacks -- including President Trump in response to the Las Vegas shooting in October -- there is no clear definition of domestic terrorism. WV points out that it is crucial to consider the attacker's motive, nodding toward The Patriot Act's definition of the crime. It is also worth mentioning that there is no clear federal charge on domestic terrorism. Unless an attacker is linked to one of the State Department's defined foreign terrorist groups, that person may avoid a federal terrorism charge altogether.

Weapons possession prohibitions in West Virginia

Most in Wheeling likely do not need to be reminded that the right to bear arms is constitutional. If there is any question about the legal implications of owning a firearm, state law makes that right very clear. In Section 67-7-1 of the West Virginia Code, it states that the state's citizenry overwhelmingly supports this right. At the same time, it is also recognized that the state needs to reasonably regulate this right. This means that while most local citizens are allowed to own guns, the state has imposed certain limitations to this right. 

Those limitations are outlined in Section 61.7.7 of the state's law stipulating crimes and their punishment. According to this statute, the following people are prohibited from owning firearms: 

  • One who has been convicted of a crime punishable by a prison term of more than one year
  • One who is shown to be habitually addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance
  • One who has been judged to be mentally incompetent
  • One who is in the United States unlawfully
  • One who has been dishonorably discharged from military service
  • One who is subject to a protective order related to domestic violence 

Three brothers arrested for giving out meth-laced gummy bears

Many in Wheeling may often wonder why it seems when kids and teens are involved in what turns out to be very serious incidents why so often they are perceived to be treated with leniency. Some may think that is their bad behavior in any way mirrors that of an adult, they should be treated the same way. While some of their concerns may be well-founded, it should also be remembered the youths often do not fully appreciate the harm that their actions may cause, and that with the benefit of better judgment, they might choose to avoid acting up altogether. 

Three teenage brothers in Alabama are in hot water with authorities after being arrested for causing a panic at their school. Teachers began to notice several students acting strange. After being sent to the office, the affected students were reported to be acting lethargic and "loopy". In all, six were taken to a local hospital for treatment after paramedics discovered them to have alarmingly high heart rates. It was later discovered that the brothers had laced gummy bears with methamphetamine had distributed them to other students. All of those who ingested the gummy bears were later released to go home. 

How can a plea bargain benefit me?

One thing that may come to mind when you are facing criminal charges in West Virginia is the plea bargain concept. Depending on the charges you face and the circumstances surrounding your case, you may be offered a plea bargain in which the prosecution offers you a deal if you plead no contest. According to The Atlantic, “97 percent of felony convictions are the result of plea bargains.” 

Plea bargains can be very beneficial to you if you are facing charges for a serious crime that carries heavy penalties. Here are some benefits that you may not be aware of. 

Prospect of recreational marijuana in West Virginia

West Virginia only recently approved medical marijuana. In April 2017, patients with certain medical conditions, including Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS, can acquire a certain amount of marijuana for medicinal purposes. 

While West Virginia has finally hopped onboard the medical marijuana bandwagon, it still does not allow marijuana for recreational use. Several other states have approved the drug for that purpose, and West Virginia may not be that far behind. As of this writing, anyone who possesses marijuana without a doctor's prescription can face arrest. 

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