Anyone else think it might not be wise to declare that you have 123 sealed indictments for drug offenses?

From this week’s edition of The Caroline Progress (p. A10):

In addition to this list [of grand jury indictments], another 123 sealed indictments were returned by the Grand Jury. The sealed indictments stem from a large narcotics investigation that will be culminating in multiple arrests said the Commonwealth’s Attorney Tony Spencer.

Now, I have a question: If you were one of the local drug dealers, and you heard that there were 123 sealed indictments that were going to be served in the coming days, wouldn’t it be a smart thing to skip town?

I don’t know ’bout you, but if I was a drug dealer (and I’m not, for the record), I would be taking an extended vacation in another state.

Say also, if I was a local drug dealer and thought I might be going [back] to prison for several years and decided to do the whole “You won’t take me alive!” thing, I might also invest in a couple weapons and body armor.

You know, the indictments are sealed for a reason and it doesn’t make good tactical or strategic sense to send a press release or statement to the paper saying you have those indictments.

It increases the risks involved for all those serving those indictments, as well as could result in evidence being destroyed by people that know they are going to get arrested.

And for what? To get your name in the newspaper?

4 Comments

  1. Lawyer Bob says:

    I’m not a lawyer, nor did I sleep at Holiday Inn Express last night. But, unless it’s a secret grand jury, then isn’t it public information as to the indictments, if true bills either publicized by name if not sealed, or if it involves indictees that might flee, it may be sealed, but the number of indictments have to be open to the public? Just askin’.

  2. I am not lawyer (but I have taken a couple law classes).

    But as I understand sealed indictments in Virginia, they are not open to the public until the person has been arrested and presented to the Circuit Court.

    Only then are the indictments unsealed.

    And even if the number of indictments was available to the public, why would the Commonwealth’s Attorney make a point of stating the number?

  3. § 19.2-192.1 of the Code of Virginia:

    Upon ex parte motion by the Commonwealth and for good cause shown, the circuit court may seal an indictment until such time as the defendant is arrested.

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