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Term for Virginia teacher exceeded drug charge guidelines

Along with safeguarding a person's civil rights, criminal defense attorneys make sure defendants understand charges, immediate and possible consequences and legal challenges. This wall of protection doesn't go up until an attorney is contacted. Unfortunately, by that time, some defendants have incriminated themselves or missed opportunities for charge dismissals or reductions.

A Norfolk music teacher, who worked within the Virginia Beach school system since 2000, recently was sentenced to prison on drug charges. The charges were the result of a November 2013 at-work search, conducted after an odor of marijuana was detected at Tallwood High School by an assistant principal. The principal, colleagues and a school resource officer followed the cannabis smell to the teacher's office.

The group discovered marijuana, heroin and drug paraphernalia in the teacher's office. Prosecutors stated heroin was kept in a case with a lighter, used spoon and hypodermic needles. Packaging materials and a scale were also found.

Police investigators later uncovered marijuana in the defendant's Norfolk home. The orchestra teacher admitted he possessed heroin and distributed marijuana. Authorities said the defendant sold cannabis to a colleague at the high school -- reports did not say whether the "customer" remained on staff at the school.

The accused teacher quit his job the same month the impromptu office raid took place. The man was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana on school property, possession and distribution for a half ounce to five pounds of marijuana and heroin possession. Virginia sentencing guidelines recommended a jail term of 24 hours to three months – the former teacher got three years.

Everything Newport News defendants say or do during and following arrests can be used to try and convict them. Actions and admissions in the stress of the moment are detrimental, if not devastating, to a legal standing. Criminal defense attorneys strongly recommend saying and doing nothing until you have a legal representative.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot, "Tallwood High teacher gets 3 years for pot, heroin" Elisabeth Hulette, Oct. 23, 2014

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