Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
When charged with one or more criminal offenses, defendants can benefit from the effective criminal defense representation that is his or her right under the law. Whether you are facing a misdemeanor reckless driving charge or a violent felony charge, a Virginia criminal lawyer can provide wise legal counsel to answer your questions and help you make informed decisions during the criminal justice process.
The criminal attorneys at our firm are committed to providing aggressive, skillful defense representation to help protect your rights and work to achieve the best possible outcome under your personal circumstances.
Understanding Criminal Charges
In Virginia, a person may be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony crime, and it is important to understand the implications of each offense. While a misdemeanor is typically considered to be less serious than a felony charge, the repercussions of an arrest and conviction can still be quite severe.
When you are investigated or arrested for a crime, it helps to be well-informed about your case and your charge(s) in order to make the best decisions regarding your defense. Each case is unique, and a Virginia criminal lawyer is equipped to explain the intricacies of your individual situation and how various defense strategies may affect the outcome of your case.
The broadest division between criminal offenses is the classification of a crime as a misdemeanor or felony. Typically, misdemeanors are crimes punishable by a maximum of one year in jail, whereas felonies are punishable by a year or more in prison. However, even within these two distinctions, Virginia further categorizes the crimes by the severity of each offense.
Virginia misdemeanors are divided into four classes, with Class 4 misdemeanors being the least serious offenses and Class 1 misdemeanors carrying the harshest penalties.
Common misdemeanor offenses include DWI, reckless driving, assault, shoplifting or other minor theft crimes, marijuana possession, public intoxication, and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. Depending on the classification of the misdemeanor, penalties range from a fine of $250 to a maximum of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Much like misdemeanors, felonies in Virginia are further classified by the severity of the offense and the associated penalties. There are six classes of felonies, with a Class 6 felony carrying the lightest possible sentence and a Class 1 felony carrying the most severe penalties.
Fines associated with felony conviction typically range from $2,500 for a Class 5 or Class 6 felony to $100,000 for a Class 1, 2, 3, or 4 felony. The length of a prison term for felony conviction ranges widely depending on the classification of the crime:
- Class 6– up to 5 years
- Class 5 – up to 10 years
- Class 4 – 2 to 10 years
- Class 3 – 5 to 20 years
- Class 2 – 20 years to life in prison
- Class 1 – death, or life in prison if the death penalty is not applicable
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- Hiring an Attorney
- How Matthew Crowley Approaches Criminal Cases and Litigation
- Matthew Crowley’s Process After Receiving a New Case
- What Matthew Crowley Looks For in A Case and Why
- What Do You Enjoy About Litigating a Case
- How to Find the Best Criminal Defense Attorney
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- Importance of Experience in Criminal Defense
- Importance of Trust Between An Attorney and Client
- Most Common Criminal Cases
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- What Do You Look For in a Criminal Case?
- Importance of Speaking With an Attorney
- What to Expect From the Arrest Process
- What to Expect From Criminal Charges
- What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove in Court?
- Criminal Justice System
- Benefits of Hiring a Private Attorney
Driving Under the Influence in Virginia
Probably the most widely known criminal traffic offense is DUI or DWI. Apprehending those who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a priority for law enforcement in Virginia. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle, there were 27,333 DUI arrests in 2013. Here is the the 2013 Virginia DMV Crash Facts report.
A DUI is typically a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia.
DUI offenses carry heftier penalties when the driver has prior drunk driving convictions on his or her record. In addition to the criminal penalties accompanying a DUI conviction in Virginia, a driver must contend with administrative proceedings and the possible loss of driving privileges.
Virginia has notoriously tough traffic laws, and a number of traffic violations that would only net a traffic ticket in other states are criminally prosecuted as reckless driving in Virginia. If you are a local or out-of-state driver who gets pulled over on Virginia roads, it helps to understand whether the ticket you received is a simple citation or a reckless driving charge and then consult a Virginia criminal attorney to determine the best course of action.
Under Virginia Code Section 46.2-868(A), reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor with maximum penalties of up to 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine, or both, and can also result in the suspension of your drivers license. There are numerous violations that can constitute reckless driving in Virginia, including:
- Driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit
- Driving over 80 miles per hour regardless of the posted speed limit
- Failure to signal before turning
- Driving a vehicle without proper control of the vehicle, or with inadequate brakes
- Passing a vehicle at a railroad crossing
- Passing a stopped school bus or an emergency vehicle with lights flashing on your side of the road
- Racing on public property, highway, or private property without authorization
- And more
Apart from the criminal proceedings, a reckless driving conviction will result in six demerit points on one’s license. A Virginia criminal lawyer who has experience with reckless driving cases can provide further detail on how to handle both the criminal charges and the possible threat to your driving privileges.
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Legal Representation in Virginia
The police who investigate crimes and the district attorneys who prosecute them are required to handle each case in accordance with the laws protecting the rights of the defendant. Unfortunately, through sloppy work or a flagrant violation of policy and procedure, some defendants can quickly see their rights violated. A defense lawyer can fight to make sure that your constitutional rights are protected during an investigation and prosecution, and that is a responsibility we take very seriously.