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Can I take back my guilty plea?
If you pled guilty to a misdemeanor or felony in Norfolk or Virginia Beach, you may change your mind about whether this was the best decision in your criminal case and may want to take back your plea. In Virginia, you have more options for withdrawing your plea before you are sentenced than if you wait until after the judge tells you your punishment. However, you should never decide whether to plead guilty, accept a plea bargain, or withdraw your plea without first consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Withdrawing a Guilty Plea Before Sentencing
Under Virginia Code §19.2-296, a motion to withdraw a guilty plea can only be filed pre-sentencing in most cases. However, you would still have to convince the judge that you have good reasons to withdraw your plea before sentencing. Justifications for withdrawing your guilty plea include the following:
- You are acting in good faith and have a defense against the charges you face.
- You made a mistake in pleading guilty.
- You would be prejudiced in your criminal case if you were not allowed to withdraw your plea.
Withdrawing a Guilty Plea After Sentencing
Your ability to withdraw your plea would be severely limited post-sentencing. Under Virginia Code §19.2-296, you must establish that withdrawing your plea is necessary to correct a manifest injustice. This is a hard burden of proof to meet. Ways you might be able to show this include:
- You were not mentally competent to enter your plea.
- You made the plea involuntarily for some reason, such as in response to threats by the prosecutor.
- You have discovered new evidence that helps prove your innocence.
- Your lawyer engaged in misconduct or provided ineffective counsel to you.
Are you facing criminal charges in Virginia Beach or Norfolk? Do you want to withdraw a guilty plea? Our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers can explain your defenses and options and mount an aggressive defense strategy to help you get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling our Norfolk office at 757-625-1214 or completing our convenient online form to learn more about how we can assist you.
Can I be placed on house arrest in Virginia?
If you have been convicted of committing a crime in Virginia, you could be facing a jail or prison sentence. Being placed on house arrest would be a better option. However, you need to know how this program works in our state, so you know what would be required of you.
Who Is Eligible for House Arrest in Virginia Criminal Cases?
In Virginia, house arrest is referred to as a “home-electronic incarceration program.” The program’s purpose is to allow a defendant to continue to work, go to school, and take care of their children. The eligibility requirements a defendant must meet include:
- They must be convicted of a non-violent crime.
- Their sentence must be for less than a year.
- They could be required to remain employed while under house arrest.
How Is a Person Monitored While Being Placed on House Arrest?
An individual sentenced to house arrest would be required to wear an ankle bracelet that would track their location at all times. Some monitors can also detect whether they have consumed any alcohol. A probation officer would also supervise their compliance with the house arrest program and any other rules they are required to follow.
Does a Person on House Arrest Have to Stay at Their Home 24/7 in Virginia?
A defendant sentenced to house arrest may not have to remain at home all the time. They would most likely be allowed to leave to go to work, school, doctor appointments, and other approved activities during specified times.
Are There Costs Assessed for Being Placed on House Arrest?
Yes, a person would be responsible for paying the costs associated with house arrest. Under Virginia law, these fees could be garnished from their wages if they fail to pay them.
Can a House Arrest Sentence Be Shortened for Good Behavior?
No, a defendant would be required to serve their entire sentence under house arrest. Unlike a jail or prison sentence, they would not be given credit for good behavior.
Do you have questions about whether you are eligible for Virginia’s house arrest program? Are you facing criminal charges? Our experienced criminal defense lawyers are here to mount an aggressive defense strategy for you to achieve the best outcome, given your situation. To learn more about how we can help you, complete our convenient online form or call our Norfolk office at 877-960-3441 to schedule your free initial consultation.
Should I hire a private attorney or use a public defender?
You will have to make many important decisions, such as whether to accept a plea bargain in your criminal case. Hiring a lawyer to represent can help achieve the best outcome possible. Here are four reasons you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney rather than use a public defender, if you have a choice.
#1: Public Defenders Have High Caseloads
Public defenders are very knowledgeable in criminal defense law and are hardworking. However, they have high caseloads and are often overworked. Here is how it could affect their representation of you:
- They would have less time to devote to your case and defending you.
- They may make more mistakes in your case than a private lawyer.
- They may be more likely to recommend you take a plea agreement to resolve your case and reduce their caseload.
#2: You Can Choose Which Private Attorney to Hire
You have a constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer in a criminal case, and the court would appoint someone to represent you if you cannot afford to hire one. You would have no say in the public defender they would choose. However, if you hire your own attorney, you could select the one you believe is experienced in criminal defense and will look out for your best interests when defending you.
#3: A Private Attorney Has More Time and Resources to Devote to Your Case
Private criminal defense lawyers often have a smaller caseload than public defenders. They can give them more time to investigate the prosecutor’s case against you and mount an aggressive defense strategy. They will also likely have other staff to assist them in your defense.
#4: You Are Likely to Achieve a Better Outcome
You are much more likely to achieve a better outcome in your criminal case if you hire a private lawyer. They will often fight harder to get the charges dismissed or reduced through a favorable plea agreement.
Our skilled criminal defense lawyers are here to defend you if you are facing criminal charges in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk areas. Fill out our convenient online form or call our Norfolk office at 877-960-3441 to schedule your free initial consultation today to learn more about how we can help you and what you can expect in your criminal case.
What should I do if there is a warrant out for my arrest?
In most cases, you would not know that there is a warrant for your arrest until the police come to arrest you. However, if you are a suspect in a criminal investigation, violated the terms of your probation, or missed a court hearing, you may expect that you will be arrested in the future. Here are the steps you need to take to protect yourself.
Two Types of Warrants in Virginia
There are two types of warrants in Virginia. The first is an arrest warrant. A judge would sign it after the police collected enough evidence to charge you with committing a crime.
The second type of warrant is a bench warrant, which a judge can issue if you violate the terms of probation, fail to comply with court orders, or miss a court hearing. It is also referred to as a capias warrant if you fail to appear in court. A bench warrant gives the police the authority to detain and arrest you.
Steps to Take If There Is a Warrant for Your Arrest
You need to take immediate actions to protect your legal rights when you discover that a warrant has been issued for your arrest. These are the first steps you should take:
- Call a lawyer. You should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. They can advise you on what you should do and be present when the police interrogate you. They can also mount a defense for you—even if you are guilty—that could result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.
- Arrange for bond. If you were arrested for a serious offense, you would most likely have to post bond in order to be released from jail. You will need to contact a bail bonds person to arrange for this.
- Turn yourself in. After consulting with your lawyer, you will need to surrender to the police. It is important to do so in the correct jurisdiction so that you do not have to remain in jail for any longer than is necessary.
- Remain silent. You should exercise your constitutional right to remain silent. Any statements you make to the police could be used against you. You should also not discuss your criminal case with a cellmate or on the telephone at the jail.
Is there a warrant out for your arrest in Norfolk or Virginia Beach? Call our Norfolk office or fill out our contact form to learn how our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys can help you achieve the best outcome in your case.
What is a capias warrant?
You face serious consequences if you fail to appear at a court hearing in your criminal case in Virginia. The judge could issue a capias warrant, which is a warrant for your arrest for failure to appear, and you may face additional criminal charges. However, you may be able to avoid these harsh consequences if you take action quickly after your missed court hearing and retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away.
Penalties You Face for Failure to Appear at a Court Hearing
If a capias warrant is issued, you could be arrested at any time until you turn yourself into the police. Your bond may be revoked, which means that you may have to remain in jail until your criminal case is decided.
In addition, you could be charged with a separate offense for failing to appear at your court hearing under Virginia Code §19.2-128. This crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Here are the potential penalties you face:
- Misdemeanor. If you failed to attend a hearing in a DUI, reckless driving, or other misdemeanor case, you would be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, you could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Felony. If you missed a court hearing in a felony criminal case, the charges against you would be more serious. You would be charged with a Class 6 felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine not to exceed $2,500.
Steps You Can Take to Avoid the Harsh Consequences You Face
If you miss your court hearing, you make your criminal case more complicated. In addition to facing additional charges, the judge could sentence you more harshly for the original crime you were accused of committing if you are convicted.
Taking prompt actions as soon as you realize you failed to appear in court can go a long way to avoiding these consequences. Here are two important steps you should take:
- Go to court or call the court clerk on the same day as your court hearing if at all possible. The judge could withdraw the bench warrant and schedule your court hearing for another day. Even if there is no longer a capias warrant for your arrest, you should plan to explain why you missed your hearing at your next court date.
- Call your lawyer if you have one or retain one immediately. If you have a good reason for not going to court, such as your car broke down or you had a medical emergency, you may be able to avoid being arrested or having additional charges brought against you.
Did you miss a court hearing in your criminal case? Are you facing criminal charges? Our knowledgeable criminal defense team is here to mount a strong defense for you so that the charges are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can assist you.
Can I represent myself in my criminal case?
Yes, you can choose to represent yourself in a criminal case. However, just because you have the right to represent yourself in court does not mean that it would be a smart decision in your case. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor, such as reckless driving or DUI, or a more serious felony crime, you protect yourself by hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to defend you.
Five Reasons Not to Represent Yourself When Facing Criminal Charges
One of the benefits of representing yourself would be to save money. However, the long-term consequences could far outweigh the cost of hiring an attorney. Here are five reasons why representing yourself would be a bad idea:
- Defenses. You do not have extensive knowledge about the strong defenses you could have to the charges you face. Even if you know you are guilty, you could have defenses, such as violations of your constitutional rights, that could result in the charges against you being dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.
- Court procedures and paperwork. If you choose to represent yourself, the court would expect you to file the correct legal paperwork and follow the complicated court procedures in your criminal case. The judge could impose harsh consequences, such as barring you from filing an important motion, if you violate the rules.
- Prosecutor. You would be at a serious disadvantage representing yourself because the Commonwealth of Virginia would be represented by a prosecutor. They would have extensive knowledge of the criminal laws governing your case and will aggressively prosecute you if you are unrepresented.
- Plea Bargain. Most criminal cases are resolved through a plea bargain. However, it is unlikely that you would be able to weigh the pros and cons of a plea agreement offered by the prosecutor without the help of a lawyer.
- Trial. Conducting a criminal trial is much more complicated than the ones you may have seen on television or in movies. You would not have the skill to effectively challenge the state’s evidence, cross-exam their witnesses, or present your own defenses if you represent yourself at your trial.
If you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges in Virginia Beach or Norfolk, our experienced criminal defense lawyers are here to aggressively defend you so that you achieve the best possible outcome given your circumstances. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free consultation today.
What is probation?
If you plead guilty or are found guilty at a trial in Virginia, you will be sentenced to a punishment for your crime by a judge. One alternative to being incarcerated in jail or prison is to be placed on probation. If you are hoping to be sentenced to probation, it is important to understand the basic rules you must follow since you could face harsh consequences if you violate the terms of your probation.
Two Types of Probation in Virginia
Probation is only granted for less serious offenses in our state. When you are sentenced to probation, you will not have to go to jail or prison. Instead, the judge would place you on probation for a specific length of time. During this period, you would be expected to follow certain rules. There are two types of probation in Virginia:
- Unsupervised. If you are sentenced to unsupervised probation, you would not be assigned to a probation officer. Your case would be suspended for a period of time when you must comply with basic rules, such as not committing other crimes, paying fines as part of your punishment, or other conditions set by the judge.
- Supervised. Your case would be assigned to a probation officer, who you would need to meet with at scheduled appointments either in-person or by telephone. You would also have more stringent rules that you would need to follow.
What Rules Could You Be Required to Follow While You Are on Probation?
The specific rules you would be required to follow will depend on the crime you committed, your prior criminal record, and other factors. Some requirements of probation could include:
- Attending meetings with your probation officer at scheduled times
- Not possessing a firearm
- Not committing any other criminal offenses
- Not consuming alcohol or controlled substances
- Not leaving the Commonwealth of Virginia without court permission
- Keeping a job or maintaining enrollment in college or other job training program
- Paying fines and court costs by a date set by the judge
- Submitting to alcohol and/or drug tests
- Consenting to be searched even if there is no probable cause to search you
- Completing a certain number of hours of community service
What Happens If You Violate the Terms of Your Probation?
You could face harsh consequences if you violate the terms of your probation. If the violation is minor and this is a first offense, your probation officer could issue you a warning. However, if there are multiple or serious violations, you could face a number of punishments, such as an extension of the time you are on probation, being ordered to jail for a short period of time, or having your probation revoked and being sentenced to prison or jail.
Have you been arrested in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are here to explain what you can expect in your criminal case and to mount an aggressive defense strategy so that you achieve the best outcome given your situation. To find out more about how we can assist you, fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free case evaluation.
How long will a DUI conviction stay on my criminal record in Virginia?
DUI 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?
Being 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?
If 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?
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?
Virginia 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?
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.
- 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.
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?
Anyone 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?
Virginia 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.
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?
Murder 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?
Swift 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.