People who live in the eastern part of Virginia have long known that law enforcement and prosecutors zealously enforce drug laws when they suspect illegal drug activity is taking place. At times, it may seem that they lack awareness about the realities of addiction or some of the other factors that may be involved in these situations.
State targets heroin cases for federal court
The Virginian Pilot reports that in 2015 the state Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia together announced their plans to crack down on heroin activity. They aim to do this by prosecuting more of these cases in federal court. Since May of 2015, more than 30 heroin distribution cases have been brought to federal court.
Recent case just one of many
A man arrested in the spring of this year was recently sentenced for his alleged role in selling heroin to several people who overdosed on the drug and to one who died.
This case, heard in federal court, was resolved ultimately by a plea bargain in which the defendant entered a guilty plea to distributing heroin resulting in a death. In exchange, prosecutors dropped other charges involving both heroin and fentanyl. They also agreed not to seek a life sentence.
The defendant could have been sentenced to a prison term anywhere between 20 and 40 years. In the end, he was given a sentence of 30 years.
President takes a different approach
The targeted approach to heroin cases by Virginia prosecutors appears to be at odds with that of the current United States President. This summer, more than 200 people previously convicted of and sentenced for drug-related crimes were granted clemency by the President according to the Washington Post. Of those, 67 were sentenced to life in prison.
Several of those granted clemency were from Virginia. One case was from the Eastern District of Virginia and involved heroin distribution. The defendant was originally convicted in 1993 to a life sentence with five years of supervised release. Due to the presidential action, his sentence will expire at the beginning of December 2016.
Heroin not only drug involved in many cases
In addition to heroin distribution cases, law enforcement and federal prosecutors also seek out cases in which other drugs are involved. An example can be seen in the recent arrest of four people for allegedly transporting cocaine across the American-Mexican border. According to WHSV3, heroin was also found in the investigation. One of the defendants is from Virginia. Each of the four people could face between 10 years to life in prison.
Strong help required for defense
Knowing that state law enforcement authorities are targeting heroin crimes for federal prosecution makes it important that anyone arrested and charged with these offenses gets proper help. Talking to an experienced criminal defense attorney who practices in both state and federal court promptly is recommended for anyone in this situation.