Prince William County Criminal Defense and DUI Lawyer
If you find yourself the subject of a criminal investigation—or if you have been arrested—your first step should be to protect your right to silence and insist upon your right to an attorney. Hiring a lawyer as quickly as possible might help to ensure that your rights as a defendant are protected throughout the legal process. Negotiating bail to keep you out of jail, motioning for a dismissal of unsupported charges, giving sound legal advice, protecting your rights during an investigation, suppressing illegally obtained evidence, and challenging the state’s evidence against you are all key ways a criminal defense attorney might help you throughout your case.
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, it is important to secure effective criminal defense counsel and representation. The consequences of a conviction can be severe, and you deserve a fighting chance to beat the charges. An experienced Prince William County criminal defense and DUI lawyer will listen to your side of the story and work with you to determine the best defense approach to help you achieve the most favorable outcome in trial. Our veteran team of defense attorneys can help by:
- Explaining your charges in a way that cuts through the complex legal language used by the courts
- Making sure that you’re aware of the different defense options on the table and which might be best for you
- Creating a strong case in your favor by introducing reasonable doubt
- Negotiating a favorable plea deal with prosecutors, should you wish to avoid taking the case to court
Call our well-versed team today to conduct your free consultation and take the first step toward defending yourself against criminal charges.
Criminal Charges in Prince William County
The Prince William County criminal defense and DUI lawyers at our firm have successfully defended clients facing a wide spectrum of criminal charges. For example, our attorneys are familiar with the local roads, which is helpful when defending a DUI or traffic ticket, but they are equally adept at defending individuals accused of various drug, sex, fraud, or violent crimes.
For a full understanding of which legal areas we can help with, you may call our offices directly.
Understanding the Difference Between Misdemeanors and Felonies
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, criminal offenses are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. The distinction lies in the perceived severity of the crime and the physical, financial, or emotional impact it has on the victim or victims of the offense.
Felony offenses are considered the most serious and are broken into 6 separate classes, each with its own specific penalties. Misdemeanor offenses are considered lesser offenses and are broken into 4 classes, with a Class 1 misdemeanor being the most heavily punished of misdemeanor offenses. Some misdemeanor offenses include reckless driving and traffic violations in Prince William County. A felony conviction will typically carry a heavier penalty than a misdemeanor offense, and from the smallest-scale misdemeanor to the most heinous of felonies, the difference in punishment is substantial making it important that a Prince William County criminal defense attorney is contacted.
- Class 6 – imprisonment for 1 to 5 years or up to 12 months in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,500
- Class 5 – imprisonment for 1 to 10 years or up to 12 months in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,500
- Class 4 – imprisonment for 2 to 10 years and a maximum fine of $100,000
- Class 3 – imprisonment for 5 to 20 years and a maximum fine of $100,000
- Class 2 – imprisonment for 20 years to life and a maximum fine of $100,000
- Class 1 – imprisonment for life or the death penalty and a maximum fine of $100,000
- Class 4 – maximum fine of $250
- Class 3 – maximum fine of $500
- Class 2 – up to 6 months in jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000
- Class 1 – up to 12 months in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,500
When a person is convicted of a crime, their penalties will be handed down at a sentencing hearing. The judge will take various factors into consideration before assigning a penalty for the specific crime of which they were found guilty. Whether a felony or a misdemeanor, any criminal conviction results in a permanent criminal record that can have a number of adverse impacts upon one’s personal reputation and future opportunities. A conviction also carries immediate penalties such as hefty fines, incarceration, and a number of other consequences that apply to the nature of the specific crime.
Therefore, anyone facing the potential for a conviction should not leave their future to chance. With the help of a skilled legal professional, you may be able to resolve your case successfully, with a dismissal, acquittal, or reduced charges and penalties for the crime with which you are presently charged.
How an Attorney Could Help With DUI Charges
In Virginia, a person can be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) if he or she has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. In some cases—if a driver is under 21 or a commercial driver with a CDL, for example—a DUI arrest may come with a much lower BAC.
Unfortunately, many people do not realize that there are often strong defense options available, even with the breath analysis test indicating a BAC over the limit. As a result, there are several reasons to contact a Prince William DUI and criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest:
- Immediately upon arrest for drunk driving, the driver’s license will be subject to an automatic license suspension (ALS). This means that the driver will lose his or her license for a designated period of time, even before having his or her day in court. A legal professional could work to get a person’s driving privileges reinstated
- Even if a blood or breath test shows your BAC to be 0.08 or higher, an attorney can challenge the results of that test because of miscalibration or poor maintenance of equipment or faulty lab procedures
- A lawyer may even be able to challenge the legality of the traffic stop that led to a person’s arrest. Without probable cause, law enforcement may not pull a person over or conduct field sobriety tests
If someone is facing these charges, it might be beneficial to reach out to a criminal defense lawyer who is knowledgeable in Prince William County DUI charges.
Virginia DUI penalties depend upon a number of factors, including whether the charge is for a first offense or subsequent offense, whether the driver was transporting a juvenile, and whether the driver’s BAC is significantly elevated. Virginia Code Section 18.2-266 is the state law against driving while impaired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while the penalties for a drunk driving conviction are described in Section 18.2-270.
In general, the first offense of DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with the possible penalties upon conviction being a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Typically, the penalties for driving under the influence are far less than the maximum allowed by law. However, Virginia law does provide mandatory minimum fines and jail terms for first offenses under certain conditions:
- Minimum fine of $250
- BAC of 0.15 to 0.20 – a minimum of five days in jail
- BAC greater than 0.20 – a minimum of 10 days in jail
The penalties for second and subsequent offenses vary depending on the span of time between the preceding charge and the current charge. A third offense within 10 years is a Class 6 felony, while a fourth conviction carries a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison—making contact with a tenacious Prince William DUI lawyer imperative. In addition to fines and jail or prison time, a DUI conviction may bring with it other legal and administrative penalties:
- License suspension
- Ignition interlock
- Drug and alcohol assessment and/or treatment
- High-risk insurance
Although penalties for intoxicated driving can be quite severe, a legal professional could advocate on an accused individual’s behalf, working to find solutions that work for their unique case.
How Prince William County Criminal Defense and DUI Attorney Could Help
Whether you are arrested as the result of a careless mistake or lapse in judgment or whether you find yourself wrongfully accused of a crime, you are entitled to effective assistance of counsel. That means you have the right to a Prince William County criminal defense and DUI lawyer who will work diligently to protect your rights under the law and to uphold your fundamental presumption of innocence. Call a legal professional today to learn how we can help protect you by working to build your defense and bring your case to a successful resolution.