Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys Have the Answers You Seek

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  • How long will a DUI conviction stay on my criminal record in Virginia?

    Blue Criminal Record Folder After a DUI ConvictionDUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in Virginia depending on the circumstances of your arrest and whether this a first or subsequent offense. If convicted, your DUI would be on your criminal record and could be discovered by employers, landlords, lenders, and others conducting a criminal background check. Unlike other states, the consequences of a DUI conviction can be very long-term in Virginia.

    How Long a DUI Remains on Your Criminal Record

    A DUI conviction in the Commonwealth of Virginia can affect two types of records: your criminal record and your driving record. Unfortunately, a DUI conviction will stay on your criminal record permanently. The ability to obtain an expungement, which is the removal of an offense from your criminal record, is very limited. You may only be entitled to an expungement in these situations:

    • The charges were dropped.
    • The DUI case against you was dismissed.
    • You were found not guilty of DUI.

    How Long Does a DUI Conviction Stay on Your DMV Record?

    A DUI conviction will also have long-term consequences on your driving record. You will have your conviction on your DMV record for 11 years and will have six points added on your driving record. This can result in a substantial increase in your auto insurance rates for many years after you complete your sentence.

    Our Experienced DUI Defense Attorneys Can Help

    If you have been charged with DUI in Norfolk, you cannot afford just to plead guilty and accept your punishment given the long-term consequences of a conviction. You may have defenses to the charges you face—even if you know you are guilty.

    Our experienced DUI defense lawyers can help you mount a strong defense to the charges you face so that they are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. Take advantage of our offer of a free consultation to learn more about how we can assist you and what you can expect in your case. Call our office or fill out our convenient online form to schedule an appointment today.

     

  • Do I need to disclose my DUI on a job application?

    Car Keys, Alcoholic Drink, and HandcuffsBeing arrested for DUI can be embarrassing and can cause long-term consequences long after you serve your sentence. One area of life where it can cause worries is when you are applying for jobs and are uncertain whether or not you have to disclose your DUI to prospective employers.

    Do You Have to Disclose a DUI Arrest on a Job Application?

    In general, you do not have to disclose a DUI arrest on an employment application unless the application asks about arrests. If it only asks about convictions, you would not need to disclose this. However, your employer may discover your arrest if they conduct a background check, because arrest records are public records.

    Requirements for Disclosing a DUI Conviction

    An employer is more likely to ask questions about misdemeanor and felony convictions than arrests. DUI is often a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, but it can be charged as a felony if it is a third or subsequent conviction. You can be convicted in these ways:

    • Being found guilty at a trial
    • Pleading guilty or entering a no contest plea

    Whether you must disclose a DUI conviction will depend on the question asked on the application. If the question only asks about felony convictions and you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you would not have to include your misdemeanor conviction. However, if there are questions about misdemeanors or convictions in general, you would have to mention your DUI conviction when you apply for the position.

    Do You Have to Discuss an Expunged DUI Conviction?

    You do not have to disclose an expungement of a DUI conviction when applying for a job. In Virginia, employers cannot ask applicants about expunged criminal records on a job application or in an interview. However, your ability to expunge a DUI convicted is limited.

    Do you have other questions about your duty to inform an employer about your DUI conviction? Have you been arrested for DUI in Norfolk? Call our office to schedule a free consultation to learn how our experienced DUI attorneys can help.

     

  • How can social media posts hurt my DUI case?

    Social Media Posts Can Affect Your DUI Case in Numerous WaysIf you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Virginia, you are facing some very serious penalties, including a possible jail sentence, fine, driver’s license suspension, and a permanent criminal record. You will want to do everything you can to build a strong defense to the charges that you face. Unfortunately, one way that you can do the opposite and hurt your case is by posting on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

    Ways That Your Social Media Posts Can Be Used Against You When You Face DUI Charges

    Your posts on social media sites can be used as evidence against you in your DUI criminal proceedings. Because of the popularity of social media sites, the police will frequently search a person’s social media sites for evidence that they can use against him. In some cases, the police may create a fake profile and try to friend a person who they have arrested or are investigating. You want to be very careful who you friend if you have been arrested for DUI so that you don’t give law enforcement easier access to your posts.

    While you may already know not to discuss your DUI case or your arrest on your social media sites, you may not realize that your earlier posts prior to your arrest could also be used against you. Here are some of the ways these posts can be harmful:

    • Posts and pictures. Many people like to post about fun activities that they are doing with friends and family or share a photograph. If you were at a bar or friend’s house consuming alcohol before your arrest and posted a picture of yourself holding a beer or glass of wine, this information can be retrieved by the police. It can be used as evidence to prove that you were consuming alcohol before you drove.
    • Timeline. Facebook and other social media sites often timestamp a person’s posts and pictures with the time. In addition, the location can also be identified by the post or picture. The police can use this information to establish a timeline of where you were and what you were doing prior to your arrest. In addition, this information could lead the police to witnesses who could testify against you, such as the waitress at the restaurant who served you alcohol.
    • Privacy settings. Even if you have set your social media post settings to private, this does not mean that your posts are as private as you think. If you have tagged a friend or family member in your post or picture, they could repost your post to their own social media sites, which may be public and can be discovered by the police. In addition, just because you set your settings to private does not mean that your posts cannot be admitted as evidence against you in court.
    • Deleted posts. After your arrest, you may realize that you have some incriminating posts on a social media site and delete them. Unfortunately, the police may be able to obtain a subpoena and retrieve them. In addition, the fact that you deleted the posts can cause additional damage to your case.

    Contact Us for Help in Building a Strong Defense to Your DUI Charges

    Are you worried about potentially damaging social media posts that could hurt your DUI case? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you minimize the damage and build a strong defense to the charges that you face. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation to learn more about how we can assist you.

     

  • How should I handle being stopped at a DUI checkpoint?

    Do You Know What to Do at a DUI Checkpoint in Virginia?In Virginia, the police are permitted to set up a DUI checkpoint to check for drunk drivers as long as certain rules are followed. These include publicizing the checkpoint before it is set up and using a mathematical formula, such as every fifth vehicle, in deciding which ones to stop. If you have not consumed any alcohol before driving, you may not be worried about being stopped. But what should you do if you know that you had been drinking?

    Take These Steps to Protect Yourself at a DUI Checkpoint

    The actions that you take if you are stopped at a checkpoint can have ramifications on what happens to you and the strength of your DUI defense if you are arrested. Here are ways that you should handle being stopped:

    • Remain calm. Just because you were stopped does not mean that the police suspect you of doing anything illegal. The officer will be observing your behavior, so try to remain calm and polite.
    • Do not avoid the checkpoint. Do not engage in suspicious behavior—such as turning around—to avoid the checkpoint. The police may perceive this as suspicious.
    • Cooperate. It is important to cooperate with the police and supply the information requested, such as your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.
    • Do not volunteer information. You want to say as little as possible during the checkpoint stop and not offer information. Remember that any statements you make can be used against you.
    • Do not agree to a field sobriety test. You do not have to agree to submit to a field sobriety test, and agreeing to one could give the police probable cause to believe that you are intoxicated—even if you are not.

    Do you have further questions about your rights at a DUI checkpoint? Were you stopped and arrested for DUI at a checkpoint? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are here to aggressively fight the charges that you face. Call our office today to learn more about what you can expect in your criminal case and the defenses that you may be able to raise.

     

  • What is Virginia’s open container law?

    What Do You Know About Virginia's Open Container LawVirginia is one of a few states that does not prohibit passengers from having open containers of alcohol in a vehicle. However, if you are the driver, this does not mean that you will not be charged with DUI if the police pull you over and there is an open container of alcohol in your vehicle. It is important to understand Virginia’s open container law and how it can relate to more serious charges.

    Understanding Virginia’s Open Container Law

    The open container law has two sections. The first section makes it unlawful to consume alcohol on a public highway—a broad definition that includes most roads. The second provision creates a rebuttable presumption that the driver was the one who consumed the alcohol under these conditions:

    • An open container is found in the passenger area of the vehicle.
    • Part of the alcohol is not in the container.
    • The driver is displaying reasonable characteristics, such as slurred speech, conduct, or odor, which suggests alcohol had been consumed.

    The passenger area basically covers the entire interiority of the vehicle because it includes the driver’s seat, unlocked glove compartment, and the areas where passengers sit. It does not include the trunk.

    Violation of the Open Container Law in Virginia

    Violation of the open container law is a separate offense that you could be charged with in addition to driving under the influence (DUI). Only drivers can violate this law, not passengers. It is a Class 4 misdemeanor, and the penalty is generally a fine. In addition, you will have a permanent criminal record if you are convicted of this. Passengers may be charged with another offense, such as drinking alcoholic beverages in a public place—also a Class 4 misdemeanor.

    If you were charged with having an open container in your vehicle, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help raise all of your possible defenses. This could result in the charges being reduced or dismissed. To learn about our experience representing clients facing this and other criminal charges, and how we can help you, call our office today to schedule a free consultation.

     

  • What are common grounds to suppress evidence in criminal cases?

    Common Grounds to Suppress Evidence When you face criminal charges, filing a motion to suppress evidence could be extremely useful in your defense. This is true even if you are guilty of the crime that you are charged with committing. By filing a motion to suppress evidence, you increase the chances that the charges against you will be dismissed or reduced to less serious offenses.

    What Are Common Grounds to Suppress Evidence That Could Help in Your Defense?

    If a motion to suppress evidence is granted, the evidence cannot be used against you by the police and prosecutor. Some evidence that is suppressed could be vital to proving the criminal charges against you, and the prosecutor may be forced to dismiss the charges. In other cases, the criminal case would go on, but the suppression of the evidence could significantly weaken the prosecutor’s case.

    In order to file a motion to suppress evidence, you must have grounds to file the motion. Here are some common reasons why your attorney might file this motion:

    • Unlawful search and seizure. Under the Fourth Amendment, you are protected from unlawful searches and seizures of yourself, your home, your property. The police must have a valid search warrant or probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed to search and collect evidence. If your constitutional rights are violated, the evidence that is found may be suppressed.
       
    • Miranda rights. You have a constitutional right to be read your Miranda rights by the police if you are taken into custody before they question or interrogate you. This includes informing you of your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. If you were not properly given your Miranda rights, your statements could be excluded.
       
    • Chain of custody. Chain of custody refers to the proper handling and storage of evidence from the moment it is collected by the police until it is presented as evidence at your trial. If the evidence was not handled or stored properly, a motion to suppress its use against you may be granted.

    Have you been charged with committing a crime? We offer a free consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys to discuss your situation and how we can help you build a strong defense. To take advantage of this offer, call our office today.

     

  • What are my rights if I am a suspect in a police investigation in Virginia?

    If the police are questioning you about where you were or your actions in association with a criminal investigation, you should consider yourself a suspect whether the police admit this or not. You need to be very careful with what you say and do so that you do not sound guilty or have your statements lead to criminal charges. You have important protections under our U.S. Constitution that you need to understand and use in this situation.

    Important Rights to Exercise If the Police Suspect You Committed a Crime

    Even if you know that you are innocent and have nothing to hide, you cannot assume that your problems will be over if you cooperate with the police. The reality is that you could find yourself charged with a crime that you did not commit. If the police are contacting you about a criminal investigation, you want to exercise these important rights:

    • Right to leave. If you are not under arrest and have not been given your Miranda rights under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you can leave. If the police stop you, the problem may be that you may not be certain if you are being arrested or simply questioned. The best strategy is to ask the officer. If he says that you are not under arrest, you should leave and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to help determine your next steps.
    • Right to privacy. Your right to privacy under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution gives you the right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizes of your property and yourself. Unless the police have a search warrant, you have a right to refuse to allow them to search your home, car, other property, or you.
    • Right to remain silent. You have a right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself under the 5th Amendment. If the police are questioning you, you should invoke this right and remain silent. You should also advise the officer that you want your attorney present.
    • Right to an attorney. Under the 6th Amendment to the Constitution, you have a right to an attorney. If you are a suspect or are even worried that you are, you want to exercise this right and retain an attorney. Hiring an attorney immediately may help you avoid criminal charges.

    Are you a suspect in a criminal investigation? Call our office today to schedule a free consultation with our experienced criminal defense attorneys to get your questions answered and help in dealing with the police investigation.

     

  • How can I help my attorney defend me in my criminal case?

    If you have been arrested, you want to do everything you can to fight the charges against you. A conviction will most likely result in a permanent criminal record. Unfortunately, your innocence does not guarantee a dismissal of the charges. If you are guilty, this does not mean that you do not have significant defenses to beat the charges. To take some control over your situation, you need to do everything you can to help your experienced criminal defense attorney defend you.

    What You Can Do to Help Your Criminal Defense Attorney

    You should always discuss with your attorney what he feels you can do to help him in defending you. Then you should follow through by following his advice. Here are some general guidelines:

    • Be honest. You must be honest with your attorney if you want him to provide you with the best defense. This does not necessarily mean admitting to committing a crime. You should answer all of his questions truthfully and completely. The last thing you want to happen is for him to discover something damaging about you from the prosecutor at a court hearing.
    • Don’t speak to the police. Speaking to the police is rarely a good idea. The police want to talk to you to gather more evidence against you. If you think you have information to convey to them, discuss this with your attorney and let him provide it for you.
    • Stay off social media. If possible, stay off social media completely. Do not discuss anything remotely related to the charges or your criminal case. The prosecution or police could search your social media sites looking for statements you made that they can use against you.
    • Provide contact information. You want to provide your attorney with the names and contact information for any potential witnesses and other documents that could be remotely helpful to your defense. You want to do this as soon as possible to give your attorney time to thoroughly investigate your case.
    • Stay in touch. You need to provide your attorney with your new contact information if you move and stay in touch with your attorney on a regular basis. While you do not want to contact your attorney every day, contacting him once every week or two can help you stay informed about the status of your case.
    • Attend all hearings. You must attend all required court hearings and be on time. You make a bad impression with the judge when you fail to attend required hearings or are late. In addition, failing to appear can result in your bail being revoked and you be taken into custody.

    Are you facing criminal charges? You simply cannot afford to go it alone. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how our criminal defense team can help build your defense to the charges you face so that the charges are dismissed or reduced to the least possible sentence.

  • What does “reasonable doubt” mean, and how can my lawyer use it in my favor?

    creating reasonable doubtAnyone who has been charged with a crime or even watched a legal drama on television has heard about the concept of reasonable doubt. One cornerstone of the American justice system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and to be proven guilty, that guilt must be shown beyond reasonable doubt. Here, we explore reasonable doubt and explain how it can help protect those accused of a crime.

    What Is Meant by “Reasonable Doubt?”

    In a criminal trial, the innocence of the defendant is assumed, and it is up to the prosecutor to show that he is guilty of the crime. Reasonable doubt is the standard that the prosecutor must meet. It is the highest burden of proof in the American justice system, and it means that no other logical explanation can be drawn except that the defendant committed the crime. It asks jurors to consider if a rational, reasonable person would draw the same conclusion from the same facts.

    Reasonable doubt is a much stricter standard than those in other types of trials. Civil cases are decided by what is known as a preponderance of evidence, meaning that it only needs to be likely that the person is guilty.

    How Reasonable Doubt Can Help a Virginia Criminal Defendant

    Under a reasonable doubt burden of proof, it is not enough that a person probably committed a crime. The evidence must be so convincing as to lead to a logical conclusion of guilt, and there must be no other reasonable scenario in which another person could have committed the crime. The burden of meeting this standard, however, is on the prosecution. The person charged with the crime is not obligated to prove that he did not commit the crime; the prosecution must overcome the assumption of innocence to prove that he did. In theory, this puts the prosecution at a disadvantage.

    An experienced criminal defense attorney understands how this system works, and a knowledgeable legal team can help present evidence to create doubt. To do so, an effective legal team can:

    • Identify jurors who understand and will adhere to the principle of innocent until proven guilty
    • Pose questions left unanswered by the prosecution
    • Present reasonable alternative possibilities

    If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime in Virginia, experienced representation can help find evidence and present the factors that can create reasonable doubt. At Tavss Fletcher, our tenacious attorneys seek to mitigate the negative effects of a criminal charge for every client, and we may be able to help. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

  • How might a lawyer defend me against a false drug possession charge?

    defending against a drug possession chargeVirginia takes drug possession offenses seriously; any person found in illegal possession of a Schedule I or II substance will face a Class 5 felony. However, a skilled attorney may be able to use Virginia state law and strategic defenses to get your charges or penalties reduced or dismissed. If you’ve been accused of drug possession, it’s important you understand what drug possession is and what defenses could apply to your case if you were wrongly accused.

    Defining Possession

    Although there are many different drug charges—from using to selling—Virginia law defines drug possession as “knowingly or intentionally” possessing a controlled substance. However, Virginia names one exception. A person may possess a controlled substance if he or she also has a prescription that:

    • Is valid
    • Was written by a licensed practitioner
    • Was provided during a doctor–patient interaction in a professional practice

    This defense is easy to prove; a copy of the valid prescription and a signed affidavit from the prescribing doctor will likely suffice. However, the wording in the legal definition of drug possession provides options for other more complicated defenses.

    A Closer Look at the Definition May Help Your Defense

    Virginia law explicitly states that a valid prescription should void drug possession charges. However, an even closer read of Virginia code can help your defense. For example, a few defenses hinge on certain phrases in the definition—depending on the details of a case—and these include:

    • “Knowingly and intentionally:” It’s possible that you have a controlled substance in your possession without knowing or intending to possess it. Even Virginia law says that the presence of a drug in a person’s car or residence does not mean that he was “knowingly and intentionally” in possession of the substance.
    • “Possess:” Your attorney can show that you had insufficient or no opportunity to be in possession of a drug—as is the case when many people are present in a house or vehicle containing the controlled substance. Your attorney may be able to argue you were not the one in possession.
    • “A controlled substance:” Perhaps what you had in your possession was not a drug at all. To prove this, your attorney may be able to use credible, careful lab testing

    Other defenses, such as police lab error and illegal search, may also work for you. Your attorney will be able to explain how those may apply to your case.

    Building a Solid Defense Calls for Legal Help

    Meeting with an attorney after being accused of drug possession is crucial to avoiding stiff penalties, including possible jail time, hefty fines, and the stigma of a drug conviction. The legal team at Tavss Fletcher can look at your case and the evidence against you and advise you on other defenses that may apply to your situation. To request your free case review, start a live online chat on our website today.

  • What are possible defenses to my murder charges?

    defenses to murder chargesMurder charges can end in serious jail time and, in Virginia, the death penalty—depending on what type of murder was committed. If you’ve been accused of murder, it’s important you look a few steps ahead and try to understand how an experienced attorney and a good legal defense may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely.

    Murder Charges Are Defensible

    Murder charges may range from manslaughter to first-degree and capital murder. All are serious charges and can affect your career, your family, and your freedom. If you’re being accused of murder, get into contact with an attorney who can explain how the following defenses might apply and help your case:

    • Self-defense. This is one type of what’s called an affirmative defense—which includes the defendant (the accused) admitting that he committed the crime but had legal justification to do so. Self-defense is one such justification, which requires the defendant to say he feared for his own immediate safety.
    • Defense of others. This is another affirmative defense, in which the defendant admits he committed the crime—but to save the lives of others.
    • Evidence suppression. A good legal defense team builds a solid defense by also keeping the other side in check and refuting their claims. One way a good attorney can defend you is by motioning to suppress evidence from the prosecution, using complex legal code.
    • Reasonable doubt. A judge or jury voting guilty must believe the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that if any reasonable doubt exists, the judge or jury cannot convict. A skilled defense team can use evidence and narrative to create this doubt.

    Murder Charges Need Legal Assistance

    As soon as possible after your arrest, it’s key you enlist the help of a skilled attorney who can help you understand the charges brought against you and any potential penalties. At Tavss Fletcher, we’ve been fighting murder charges in Virginia for decades, and we may be able to help you, too. To speak with a member of our team today, call our toll-free phone number.

  • Should I get my speedometer calibrated after a reckless driving or speeding charge?

    Calibrating your speedometerSwift penalties may follow speeding or reckless driving charges—including fines, demerit points, license suspension, or a spotted criminal record. However, an attorney may be able to defend you, working to get your charges lowered or dismissed using a speedometer calibration report. So it’s important you understand what it is and how it may be helpful in your case.

    What Is a Speedometer Calibration?

    Though drivers rely on speedometers to regulate their speeds and obey limits, it’s possible the mechanism displays the incorrect speed—and a speedometer calibration can reveal any inaccuracies. This process involves assessing the exactness of your vehicle’s speedometer by checking its mechanical and electrical components.

    Any reputable mechanic who records results properly and can produce a valid report may run a speedometer calibration on your vehicle. Though it costs about $75 and lasts about an hour, obtaining a calibration report could help your defense.

    A Calibration Report Could Help or Hurt Your Case

    It’s not uncommon to learn that a speedometer is off by a few miles per hour (MPH). However, discovering that you have an inaccurate speedometer could either hurt or help your case—depending on if it’s high or low.

    When your speedometer is low, it could help you. Here’s a hypothetical example:

    • The driver is accused of traveling 57 MPH in a 35 MPH zone.
    • He obtains a speedometer calibration report showing it’s off by 5 MPH.
    • The judge on his case agrees to reduce the official speed to 52 MPH.

    Though, in this scenario, the driver will still face consequences for speeding, the penalties could be much less severe than what he would have faced on a reckless driving charge.

    When your speedometer is high, a calibration report could have the opposite effect. However, if you obtain a report showing your speedometer runs high, you are not required to use it in court. Additionally, a speedometer report could return results showing that your speedometer is virtually accurate. If you know that you weren’t speeding, these results may help you.

    More Questions? Speak With an Attorney Today

    If you’ve recently been hit with a speeding or reckless driving charge, you may have complicated questions. The legal team at Tavss Fletcher has answers for you, and we can review your case, advise you of your options and whether a calibration report could be helpful, and defend you against these charges. To get started and speak with a knowledgeable attorney, fill out the online contact form on our website today.

  • I’ve been told that the drug Spice is safe, natural, and legal—is it?

    More and more often you hear of “safer drugs” that are supposedly legal and still offer a pleasurable high. However, not only are these drugs typically not safer, they are actually quite dangerous and using them can get you into trouble.

    Spice is a substance that is showing up in schools and on the streets, and is being used recreationally by teenagers and adults alike. Because it’s not well-known as a conventional drug, many wrongly think it is safe and legal to use.

    The Truth About Spice

    Before you use or possess Spice, you should know a few things about the substance, including:

    • It is a synthetic cannabinoid. Also called “JWH,” Spice is a synthetic cannabinoid that is sold as incense. Labeled as an herbal product, it gives off a high that is similar to what marijuana produces.
    • It is potentially dangerous. Those who have taken Spice have reported experiencing tremors, anxiety, vomiting, seizures, agitation, and psychotic episodes.
    • It is illegal. Synthetic cannabinoids are considered Schedule I drugs, which means it has a high potential for abuse and has no accepted medical use. Possessing, giving, or selling the drug is a Class 1 misdemeanor and is punishable by imprisonment for up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Sale, distribution, gift, or possession with intent to sell, give, or distribute is a Class Six felony, which can result in imprisonment for one to 10 years and a fine of up to $2,500.

    We Are Here to Help

    When you’re facing charges of this nature, you’ll need the help of an expert legal team. Attempting to defend yourself or settling with a substandard attorney can result in disaster.

    The legal team of Tavss Fletcher can answer your questions regarding your charges and may be able to help. Contact us today by filling out our online form or by calling us at 757.625.1214 and find out how we have helped many people in Norfolk with their drug charges and how we may be able to do the same for you.

  • Can I get myself into trouble if I stay silent during a traffic stop?

    You were about to go through the Midtown Tunnel when an officer pulled you over. It was a Friday night, and you were coming home from a friend’s house. Although you weren’t intoxicated, you did have a few drinks and were concerned the officer may smell the alcohol on you.

    As the officer approached your vehicle, you remembered hearing that you should stay silent during such traffic stops. However, you wonder if you really should.

    Do You Really Have the Right to Remain Silent?

    You can’t imagine not answering any of the police officer’s questions, but you know that what you say will be used against you. Will your plan of silence backfire? Here, we take a look.

    • Silence is often perceived as guilt. If you fail to talk to a police officer, you may give off suspicion that you are guilty, especially if you are asked to participate in a field sobriety test. The officer may believe that you are too intoxicated to talk in the tests and may then arrest you on suspicion of driving while under the influence.
    • Not speaking may anger the officer. Failing to answer the officer may come off as ignoring him and that could make him angry. This anger may cause him to find a reason to arrest you.

    What Should You Do?

    If you believe that answering an officer’s question will lead to an admission of guilt, you can simply say you don’t think it is an appropriate time to talk about the matter and that you wish to speak with your attorney first. Staying polite is important, and so is not saying anything that can be used to indicate guilt.

    Having an experienced attorney on your side is your best bet in a criminal law situation. The legal team of Tavss Fletcher may be able to help you with your matter. Contact us today to learn how.

  • What items are considered weapons under Virginia’s concealed weapons law and what are the penalties if I’m caught carrying such a weapon?

    Gun control and enforcement is a hot-button issue in the United States. As such, the federal government tries to limit its control over gun laws and instead leaves specific gun laws up to each individual state’s government. For example, there is no federal law that prohibits the carrying of concealed weapons.

    However, each state has its own laws regarding rights, enforcement, and punishment for weapon concealment. Although the state of Virginia has slightly more lenient gun laws than some other states, it still has a black-and-white view of concealed weapons.

    Classifying Concealed Weapons in Virginia

    In Virginia, a concealed weapon is defined as any weapon or artifact that is hidden from plain view, or has such a deceptive appearance as to disguise the weapon's true nature, and could potentially cause harm to another person. Although the assumption is that the term weapon refers to a gun or knife, Virginia’s law incorporates a broader sense of what a weapon can be.

    Under the law, weapons are defined as objects that could reasonably cause harm to another person. The law specifically states that the following items can be considered weapons and, if hidden from view, can fall under the concealed weapons mandate: 

    • Guns: any pistol, revolver, or other weapon designed to expel or propel missile-like objects by action of an explosive combustible.
    • Knives: any dirk, bowie, switchblade, or ballistic knife, machete, or razors that are able to cut or impale a human body.
    • Blunt objects designed to inflict harm: blackjacks, nun-chucks, fighting chains, or any instrument designed with rigid parts meant to flail and swing freely.
    • Propelling tools: any instrument designed to propel or shoot objects at high velocity such as potato guns, slingshots, blow darts, etc.
    • Sharp tools: any instrument with sharp edges that could potentially be used to cause harm, for example, makeshift shivs, throwing stars, needles, broken glass, etc. 

    Enforcement

    If you’re found to be concealing or hiding an object which could be considered a weapon under Virginia’s weapons classification, you could be charged with carrying a concealed weapon. Depending on the severity of the offense as well as past convictions, your penalty can range from misdemeanor charges to felony charges. The following is an overview:

    • First violation: you could be ticketed and charged with a class one misdemeanor, which could lead to jail time, fines, or both.
    • Second violation: if you’ve previously been charged with a class one concealment misdemeanor and are found to be illegally carrying again, you could be charged with a class six felony. Conviction can lead to up to five years imprisonment, a $2,500 fine, or both.
    • Third or subsequent violations: when you violate the law more than twice, you could be charged with a class five felony; if convicted you could serve up to 10 years in prison, fined up to $2,500, or both.

    Legal Help

    Being aware of different states’ gun laws can be extremely confusing. Unfortunately, this confusion could potentially land you in the back of a cop car. However, with proper representation, you don’t need to fear punishment. If you were a victim of a concealed weapon misunderstanding and need legal advice and support, contact us today. Our extensive knowledge and experience with Virginia’s laws will help you avoid jail time and keep your record clean. Don’t allow your future to be tarnished because you were unaware of the law. Call us today to get the advice you need.

    Make sure your family and friends are aware of the law before it’s too late. Share this page with them via Facebook, or tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about carrying concealed weapons.

     

  • Does trying a juvenile as an adult benefit or deter his rehabilitation and future options?

    Sentencing for juvenile crimes is discretionary based on individual state opinions and law. However, every single state has at least one legal bylaw which allows juveniles to be tried in adult courts based on the severity of their crimes. These provisions are put in place to allow for two separate but equal assumptions:

    1. Severe crimes, no matter what age they are committed, deserve equal punishment.
    2. The threat of harsher punishments will deter juveniles from committing these types of crimes in the first place.

    Unfortunately, these assumptions aren’t proving to be as accurate as previously thought.

    Juvenile Risks in Adult Court Verdicts

    The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that over 7,000 juveniles each year are convicted in criminal courts and sentenced as adults. Although these sentences are based on individual crimes, felony status, and severity of violence or damage inflicted—the form of punishment is considered questionable by many.

    The basic notion behind judicial justice is to rehabilitate the guilty in order to preserve their—hopefully crime-free—future. However, when it comes to severe crimes, adult sentencing completely goes against this notion of rehabilitation.

    Recent studies have found that besides the lack of crime rate changes, adult tried juvenile statistics are actually much worse than anticipated. Risks include:

    • Educational disadvantages. Minors in criminal justice systems have less access to education and other age-specific programming than those in the juvenile justice system, putting them at a serious disadvantage upon release.
    • Higher victimization rates. Minors have an increased risk for both sexual and physical violence within adult prisons and confinement.
    • Higher risk of suicide. Due to higher victimization, longer punishments, and psychological immaturity, depression and suicide can run rampant for youths in adult systems.
    • Increased chance for re-arrest. Rates among previously convicted minors are higher than those for any other age group for repeat offenses. Even low-risk minors in the criminal justice system have re-arrest rates twice as high as low-risk juvenile offenders.
    • Poor rehabilitation. An astonishing 85 percent of juveniles tried in the adult court system are repeat offenders, compared to 15 percent over those retained in the juvenile justice system

    Defending Your Future

    Felonies, violent crimes, and sexually explicit transgressions can all be considered severe enough to be prosecuted in an adult court, with adult crime punishments. If you need help defending yourself, or need an experienced criminal attorney for the defense of a loved one, contact us today. We know what’s at risk, and we’ll fight to make sure justice is upheld for everyone involved. Don’t allow a stupid decision to be blown out of proportion and affect the rest of your life. Call today to review your options and get the defense you deserve.

    Juvenile crimes have become an increasingly alarming problem in the United States. Help lower the chances that your loved ones, or friends will become part of this statistic. Share these risks via Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus, and maybe, just maybe, you can stop a juvenile crime before it even happens. It doesn’t hurt to pass along the information, but it may hurt to keep it to yourself. Please, share now!

     

  • What does the term “sexual assault “ mean, and how broad is the definition?

    The Appalachian State University’s Sexual Assault Prevention Center classifies sexual assault as, “the sexual exploitation, forcible penetration, or an act of sexual contact on the body of another person, male or female, without his or her consent,” including rape, molestation, masturbation and coercions. However, sexual assaults have several levels—called “degrees”—of severity that affect conviction and punishment.

    Degrees and Punishments of Sexual Assault

    These degrees, much like degrees of murder, vary depending on violence, intent, and outcomes, and can be either classified within a felony class or as a misdemeanor.

    1st Degree

    These are Class B felonies. Conviction means a sentences not to exceed 60 years in prison:

    • Sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person that has been committed without consent, or has been forced on another person by use of a dangerous weapon or threat of harm.
    • Assault is aided or abetted by one or more other persons by use of force, threats, or violence, without consent
    • Sexual contact or sexual intercourse with or without consent with a person under the age of 13.

    2nd Degree

    Each of these is a Class C felony. The punishment is a fine not to exceed $100,000, and imprisonment that may not exceed 40 years:

    • Sexual contact without consent, by use of threats, force or violence, which causes injury, including illness, disease or impairment of a sexual or reproductive organ, or mental anguish requiring psychiatric care for the victim.
    • Sexual contact with a person who cannot legally give consent at the time of the incident, such as someone who suffers from a mental illness, was intoxicated, or was unconscious during the incident
    • Sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who is a patient, employee, subordinate or resident of the facility or program in which the defendant works.

    3rd Degree

    This is a Class G felony, punishable by a fine not to exceed $25,000 and by imprisonment for a period that may not exceed 10 years (the maximum term of confinement may not exceed five years and extended supervision may not exceed five years):

    • Sexual contact (not intercourse) involving ejaculation without the consent of that person

    4th Degree

    These are Class A misdemeanors, punished with a fine not to exceed $10,000 or imprisonment not to exceed nine months in the county jail, or both:

    • Sexual harassment, stalking, or lewd behavior toward another person without the consent of that person
    • Sexual intercourse with a person 16 or 17 years old

    No matter the degree of accusation, a sexual assault conviction can have dire consequences on your future. Do not allow a false accusation to ruin the rest of your life. Contact us today to discuss your case and allow us to convince you how our experience, diligence, and dedication can help you get the justice you need to prevent a life altering conviction. Although the circumstance may seem bleak, the next step is clear: call now for the help you need and the support you deserve.

  • How can I show composure when being pulled over for a DUI?

    Driving while under the influence is a serious offense that carries hefty consequences. In fact, being charged with a DUI can result in a driver not only to have to pay a large fine, but also to serve time behind bars. DUI offenses can change the lives of the driver and his or her family.

    We often see or hear of the driver being interrogated after being pulled over and basically being forced into admitting guilt of a DUI. It is important that a driver who has been pulled over for a DUI know his rights and react in a way that will benefit his case.

    Your Attitude Matters

    When being pulled over, a driver should not give the police officers any reason to accuse him of a DUI offense. He should stay calm and keep his composure. This will help keep the situation calm and in the favor of the driver.

    Four things to keep in mind in order to keep your composure are:

    • Stay calm. No matter how frustrating the situation can be, the driver must remain composed through the ordeal. Try to not seem nervous, which can draw further scrutiny from the police officer.
       
    • Put it out, spit it out. Two things that police often look for when pulling over an individual for a possible DUI is smoking or chewing gum. Before the officer approaches the vehicle, put out the cigarette if smoking or spit out the gum if chewing it.
       
    • Don’t over speak. Keep quiet until necessary. Use the old rule, “Speak only when spoken to.” Anything that is said may be used against the driver. You are not obligated to answer questions—other than to identify yourself—without an attorney present.
       
    • Be polite. When the officer asks for identification and registration, be polite and hand the items to the officer.

     

    If you have been accused of a DUI, it is vital to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Fill out the contact form on this page to discover how we can help you in your case.

  • I have been accused of assault and battery in Virginia and am worried about the consequences. What do I need to know?

    Being charged with any crime, including assault and battery, is something that should not be taken lightly. Whether you are a first-time offender or a repeat offender, it is important to take the matter very seriously as the consequences can have life-altering results.

    If you are currently facing assault charges, you may be uncertain of about your  future—assault charges are generally prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Following is some important information about assault and battery:

    • Definition – Assault and battery is an act, such as striking or stabbing someone, that is intentionally harmful or offensive. Although we typically think of it as one crime, it is actually two separate crimes. Assault is the apprehension associated with the threat of harm, while battery is the harmful act itself.
    • Liability – Many people are unaware that an assault and battery can be a crime, an illegal act, and a tort, an act that causes a victim to suffer loss or harm. This means that the person charged with the crime may be liable for both criminal and civil liability.
    • Types – The severity of the offense determines whether you will be charged with felony or a misdemeanor assault and battery. For example, misdemeanor assault and battery, which involves touching done in an angry, rude, or insolent manner, carries a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Malicious wounding, with the intent to maim, disfigure, or kill, is a Class 3 Felony, which carries a penalty of between 5 and 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.

     

    Although you may have been accused of a crime, this does not mean you will be certain to do time behind bars. As a Virginia resident, you have the right to fight the charges that are brought against you. Call the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Tavss Fletcher at 757-625-1214 today for a free case evaluation.

  • Do I need a Norfolk criminal law attorney if my case is under investigation and no charges have been filed?

    It is common for someone being accused of a crime to put off contacting an attorney, especially if that person feels he is innocent. An experienced Virginia criminal law attorney will understand the laws and will know how to navigate the tedious and overwhelming process of building a strong defense. Whether you are accused of a violent crime, sexual offense, drug possession or trafficking, or a white-collar crime, a skilled attorney can help you.

    People often think that the time to hire an attorney is after charges have been filed for a criminal case. This is not true. In fact, a Virginia criminal law attorney can be very beneficial to the defendant in the early stages of the investigation.

    Three reasons you should hire an attorney before any charges are filed a criminal offense are:

    • Education – An experienced attorney will educate you on what lies ahead. He will make sure you understand the process of the investigation, and will explain what to expect should your case go to trial.
    • Gather Evidence – Many times law enforcement agencies will not give you the benefit of the doubt. They may make mistakes or not be thorough. Your attorney will be able to gather evidence and obtain key witnesses to support your defense.
    • Negotiate – Using the evidence that was gathered, your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutors and police before charges are filed, and will try to persuade them not to file any charges.

     

    If you have been accused of a criminal offense it is critical that you contact a knowledgeable Norfolk criminal law attorney at Tavss Fletcher immediately. Call 757-625-1214 today to schedule a free case evaluation.