Powell v. Commonwealth (1998)

In Powell v. Commonwealth, 27 Va. App. 173, 178-79, 497 S.E.2d 899, 901 (1998) Powell was sitting on a low wall when he placed his clenched fist behind his back. Id. at 176, 497 S.E.2d at 900. When he brought his hand back in front, the hand was unclenched. Id. Police found a small paper bag containing cocaine lying on the ground directly below the spot where Powell had been sitting. Id. The Court held: Appellant's suspicious hand movement and the fact that cocaine was found precisely where the appellant would have dropped an object from his left hand behind his back, support the inference that appellant possessed the bag of cocaine and discarded it on the ground behind him when the officers approached.27 Va. App. at 178-79, 497 S.E.2d at 901. The Court upheld a conviction where the evidence showed that the defendant unclenched his fist when approached by the police in a high drug-crime area. No one saw the defendant actually drop something, but the police recovered a bag of cocaine from the ground below where he made the dropping motion. See id. at 176, 497 S.E.2d at 900.