THE CIRCUIT COURT OF HENRICO COUNTY James S. Yoffy, Judge
W. Parsons (Law Office of John W. Parsons, on brief), for
Brittany A. Dunn-Pirio, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R.
Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Judges Humphreys, Beales and AtLee Argued at
J. HUMPHREYS, JUDGE
appeal essentially calls for us to ascertain the legislative
intent of that portion of Code § 18.2-248 with respect
to the impact on the sentencing range of a prior conviction
for a similar offense as an accommodation.
a bench trial on May 31, 2017, the Circuit Court of Henrico
County (the "circuit court") convicted Dominque
Jamar Jones, sometimes known as Dominique Jamar Jones
("Jones"), of multiple drug offenses. Specifically,
the circuit court convicted Jones of conspiracy to distribute
cocaine, in violation of Code §§ 18.2-248 and
18.2-256, possession with the intent to distribute cocaine,
in violation of Code § 18.2-248(C), and five counts of
distributing a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second
offense, also in violation of Code § 18.2-248(C). On
August 15, 2017, the circuit court sentenced Jones to a total
of seventy years of incarceration, with fifty-five years
suspended. On appeal, Jones asserts the following assignment
Mr. Jones assigns error to the trial court for admitting
evidence of a prior accommodation conviction for purposes of
sentencing enhancement for the convictions under under [sic]
Va. Code § 18.2-248(c), and for concluding that the
evidence sufficiently established the predicate offense for
mandatory second offense sentences under that Code section,
because an accommodation offense under 18.2-248(D) is not, by
the express wording of § 18.2-248(c), a violation which
triggers the enhanced sentencing provisions under §
Henrico County Police Department performed five controlled
drug buys targeting Jones. The police utilized two
confidential informants to perform the controlled buys, which
took place on various dates throughout September, October,
and November 2016. The police followed the same procedure
during each of the controlled buys, which all yielded cocaine
from the informants.
a controlled buy on November 14, 2016, one of the informants
made a phone call to Gervais Jones, who told the informant to
contact Jones for the drugs. Gervais Jones is Jones's
December 12, 2016, police executed a search warrant at
Jones's home. During the search of the home, police
recovered Jones's personal papers from the master
bedroom, including court documents, income tax documents, and
his birth certificate. Police also found a PayPal Mastercard
with Jones's name on it. In the laundry room, police
recovered a black digital scale with residue, plastic
sandwich bags in a yellow bag that contained 13.3 grams of
cocaine, a spoon, a magic marker, a two-ounce bottle of
inositol powder,  and other plastic bags. The police also
seized a total of $3, 067 in cash from Jones's home.
31, 2017, Jones appeared for trial on numerous drug charges.
During the trial, Jones objected to the admission of an April
23, 2014 conviction for possession with intent to distribute
cocaine as an accommodation. The Commonwealth utilized
Jones's prior accommodation conviction to support
indictments for distributing a Schedule I or II controlled
substance, second offense, in violation of Code §
18.2-248(C). While Jones did not object to the authenticity
of the accommodation conviction, he objected to its admission
and argued that it did not qualify as a predicate offense.
Specifically, Jones's trial counsel stated:
I will tell you, I realize my objection would be that was a
qualifying and make this a second offense [sic]. I realize
that the case law is an unpublished opinion that I have
before the Court of Appeals indicates that it did. But for
the purposes of the record, for purposes of appeal, I object.
I don't believe an accommodation distribution qualifies
as a distribution for a second offense, much like a
conspiracy doesn't. And as a result of that, ...