Home / Fulltext Opinions / Virginia Court of Appeals / WARD v. COMMONWEALTH OF VA

WARD v. COMMONWEALTH OF VA


WARD v. COMMONWEALTH OF
VA

(unpublished)


MAY 19, 1998
Record No. 1164-97-3

WILLIAM MARSHALL WARD

v.

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

MEMORANDUM OPINION[1]
BY JUDGE RICHARD S. BRAY
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF LYNCHBURG

Richard S. Miller, Judge
Present: Judges Bray, Overton and Bumgardner
Argued at Salem, Virginia

Clinton R. Shaw, Jr., for appellant.

Ruth Ann Morken, Assistant Attorney General (Mark L. Earley,
Attorney General, on brief) for appellee.


William Marshall Ward (defendant) was convicted in a bench
trial for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, a
violation of Code Sect. 18.2?248.1.
On appeal, defendant complains that the evidence was insufficient
to prove the requisite intent to distribute. We disagree and
affirm the conviction.

The parties are fully conversant with the record and this
memorandum opinion recites only those facts necessary to
disposition of the appeal.

When the sufficiency of the evidence is challenged on appeal,
we view the record in the light most favorable to the
Commonwealth, granting it all reasonable inferences fairly
deducible therefrom, and the decision will not be disturbed
unless plainly wrong or without evidence to support it. Higginbotham
v. Commonwealth
, 216 Va. 349, 352, 218 S.E.2d 534, 537
(1975).

While executing a search warrant at defendant’s residence,
Lynchburg police seized a pager, $97 in cash, and a "plastic
baggie" containing 26.52 grams (.935 ounces) of marijuana
from his bedroom. The packaged marijuana was discovered resting
inside an opened box containing similar plastic "sandwich
bags." Defendant admitted ownership of the marijuana,
stating to police that his girlfriend, Brenda Banks, with whom he
shared the residence, "wasn’t dealing drugs,"
"[t]hat it wasn’t hers." At trial, Banks denied
knowledge of the marijuana and testified that, although defendant
"say [sic] he smokes," she had "never seen him
smoke." Defendant testified that the marijuana was for his
use only, but police discovered no paraphernalia consistent with
personal consumption.

Qualified as an expert in the "sale and distribution of
marijuana in the City of Lynchburg," Investigator H.W. Duff
testified that the quantity of marijuana seized had a
"street value" of approximately $530, if divided for
distribution into the customary "dime bag" lots. He
also noted that "drug dealers" often purchase in
"large quantity" to "get a better deal." Huff
further testified that plastic sandwich bags are commonplace in
the "drug trade . . . to package
narcotics to be sold on the street" and that a "drug
dealer will use a pager to be contacted at any time."

Defendant argues correctly that "[t]he quantity of the
controlled substance [possessed] is one factor to be
considered" in determining the intended use by an accused. Davis
v. Commonwealth
, 12 Va. App. 728, 733, 406 S.E.2d 922, 925
(1991) (citations omitted). However, "[a] small quantity of
drugs, along with other circumstances, may support a conviction
of possession with intent to distribute." Id.
"Such other circumstances include the presence of
paraphernalia used in packaging," id., and "the
absence of any [evidence] suggestive of personal use" by an
accused. Glasco v. Commonwealth, 26 Va. App. 763, 775, 497
S.E.2d 150, 156 (1998) (citations omitted).

Here, although defendant and two defense witnesses refuted
certain circumstantial evidence of defendant’s intent to
distribute, it was within the province of the trial court to
assess credibility and disbelieve all or portions of such
testimony. See Servis v. Commonwealth, 6 Va. App.
507, 525, 371 S.E.2d 156, 165 (1988). Thus, when viewed without
regard to defendant’s evidence, the Commonwealth established that
defendant possessed a bulk quantity of marijuana, consistent with
a purchase by a drug dealer for resale at substantial profit,
together with paraphernalia to facilitate distribution, but not
personal consumption, of the drug. Defendant’s statement to
police further suggested that defendant possessed the marijuana
for purposes of "dealing." Such evidence provided
sufficient support for the instant conviction.

Accordingly, we affirm the decision.

Affirmed.

 

 

 

 

 

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Pursuant to Code Sect. 17?116.010 this
opinion is not designated for publication.

Scroll To Top