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Judge Frank K. Friedman

Oct 16, 2022

Felon constructively possessed gun while passenger in car

Where appellant, who was convicted of a violent felony, was a passenger in his brother’s car, the trial correctly determined that appellant constructively possessed a rifle within arm’s reach on the back seat. This is so despite the brother’s testimony that it was his rifle. Constructive possession “Appellant argues that the evidence failed to prove […]

Oct 9, 2022

Resentencing required in identity fraud case

Where the appellant was convicted of seven counts of identity fraud, sufficient evidence supports the convictions but she must be resentenced. The “trial court’s re-casting of [the appellant’s] sentences after dismissing the jury is inconsistent with Code § 19.2-295.1.” Statement of the case “These events arise from allegations that Eva Carol Belcher (‘appellant’) misused her [&hell[...]

Sep 24, 2022

Judicial emergency tolled speedy trial deadlines

Where the Virginia Supreme Court declared judicial emergencies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, speedy trial deadlines were tolled. The court did not infringe on appellant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial by declaring an emergency. Further, there was sufficient evidence to convict appellant of statutory burglary, robbery and a firearm offense. Judicial emergency “Appellant [&helli[...]

Sep 1, 2022

Failure to act is ‘willfulness’ under animal cruelty law

Where appellant failed to provide care for his dog, which had an untreated back injury and had not been cleaned or moved “in quite some time” from its filthy surroundings, this was sufficient evidence to support his conviction of felony animal cruelty. Overview Police were called to perform a welfare check on three children in […]

Aug 22, 2022

Appellant disqualified for benefits due to misconduct

Even though appellant’s employer, after prevailing before a Virginia Employment Commission deputy commissioner, stated it would not participate in further proceedings, the commission continued to find that appellant was disqualified from receiving benefits. “The circuit court upheld the VEC’s determination. [Appellant] Clay alleges: (1) there was insufficient evidence to prove he committed m[...]

Jul 7, 2022

Sufficient evidence that appellant possessed drugs

There was sufficient evidence to conclude that controlled substances found on the side of the road came from the appellant’s vehicle. His convictions for possession with intent to distribute narcotics are affirmed. Credibility contest “‘To convict a defendant of illegal possession of an illicit drug, the Commonwealth must prove either actual or constructive possession by […]

May 9, 2022

Drug conviction upheld despite defective warrant

Even though evidence was obtained with a defective search warrant, appellant’s conviction of unlawful possession of a controlled substance is affirmed under the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule. Search Police learned that a wanted person, Paul Price, was at a house in Buena Vista. Five officers were dispatched. Three of them, Detective Buzzard, Deputy […]

Apr 11, 2022

No evidence of constructive possession of contraband

Appellant’s convictions for possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon are overturned. The commonwealth lacked evidence that appellant had been in the house on the day police executed a search warrant and discovered the contraband. Overview After responding to a domestic call and smelling marijuana when an occupant […]

Apr 4, 2022

Sufficient evidence for possession conviction

Where appellant was convicted of possessing cocaine, there was sufficient evidence that he “knowingly and intentionally” possessed the drug. Sufficient evidence “At issue on appeal is whether appellant Beal knew there was cocaine in a tightly rolled up dollar bill that fell from his lap when police removed him from the vehicle. “In order to […]

Apr 4, 2022

No evidentiary errors in child abuse case

Where appellant waved a knife and hit the father of her child with her fist while holding the seven-month-old child in her arms, this was sufficient evidence to convict her of felony child abuse. Appellant placed the child at a “distinct risk of actual physical harm and showed a reckless disregard for human life.” Background […]

Mar 21, 2022

Visitation decisions improperly delegated

Where the trial court gave father the power to decide whether to expand mother’s visitation with the parties’ children, this was an improper delegation of judicial power. Background The parties’ final divorce order provided that father would have sole physical and legal custody. “Mother’s contact with the children was limited to letter writing; her therapist […]

Feb 14, 2022

Contractor intended to defraud homeowners

Where appellant contracted with homeowners to do construction work, later asked for additional sums for materials and labor, and did not finish the job, there was sufficient evidence that he intended to defraud the homeowners. His conviction for larceny by false pretenses is affirmed. Home improvement Joyce and Harold Cook owned a home that needed […]

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