Hampton Roads Criminal Attorney
When one is convicted of any crime in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it likely means serving some time in jail or prison, paying a fine. Some of these consequences seem unreasonably large for some offenses, such as loss of certain civil rights and a criminal record that can affect everything from employability to your credit rating. Even issues like speeding tickets and minor traffic infractions, an attorney can help.
The following offenses are just a few of the many criminal charges that Virginia residents and visitors may face. A Hampton Roads criminal lawyer can explain how Virginia law applies to your specific case. A Virginia Beach criminal defense attorney can discuss your options with you during a free consultation.
Assault and Battery
Assaults (and battery – when the suspect actually attacks the victim) often lead to additional charges being filed when other crimes are also committed. They can be penalized as misdemeanors (Virginia Criminal Code Section 18.2-11) or felonies (Section 18.2-10). The factors that govern the seriousness of the charge include whether the victim was injured, how seriously, and whether any sort of weapon is used. Even threatening an assault is a misdemeanor offense.
The severity of a charge stemming from an assault often depends on if any injuries were involved and if a hospital stay was required. If a significant injury is involved a person could be charged with Malicious Wounding (Section 18.2-51.2). But regardless of how seriously the victim was injured, if the suspect used a weapon with intent to “seriously injure or kill” the victim, then very serious assault charges may follow. A Hampton Roads criminal lawyer can help explain how the government will try to prove intent in court.
Misdemeanor assault can bring up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines. Other elements that increase sentences include whether a hate crime is an underlying charge (a class 6 felony) as well as whether the victim is a protected employee (for example, a police officer, judge, or EMT). Section 18.2-57(C).
Hampton Roads Criminal Lawyers Handle Theft Crime Cases
Theft crimes can range from shoplifting a Coke at a 7/11 (petit larceny; Section 18.2-96), a misdemeanor, to stealing someone’s identity (Section 18.2-186.3) to robbing someone of their wallet (a felony; Section 18.2-58), to breaking into a house with intent to steal (burglary; Sections 18.2-89–94). There are several ways to classify each theft offense, beginning with the value of the items in question. Anything stolen that is worth less than $200 is a misdemeanor, over that amount is a felony.
The more serious forms of these crimes involve burglary, grand larceny, and robbery. Burglary combines the crimes of theft and breaking and entering. Grand larceny is non-violent theft. Robbery, on the other hand, is theft by threat of force. Most of these felony theft crimes generally bring penalties of five to 20 years.
Class 1 misdemeanor offenses bring fines of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail. The determining factors in how long convicted suspects are in incarcerated surround elements of the crime. If a burglar carried a pistol, the penalty is much greater than if the burglar was unarmed. Section 18.2-10(b). If a robber shoots his victim, a charge of aggravated malicious wounding (see Assault) will likely result in 20 years in prison. If someone embezzles one million dollars, or if an identity thief commits grand larceny by stealing thousands of people’s personal information, that penalty will be more than for a hacker who uses a single stolen credit card number to steal $500 worth of merchandise. The degree of the offense (for example, the victim’s total monetary loss), the number of victims, and/or how seriously the victim is physically harmed will determine sentences and fines. In Virginia, convicted thieves must compensate their victims for the items they stole. If you are facing theft charges, consult with a Hampton Roads criminal lawyer to discuss your options.
Reckless Driving and DUI/DWI
Reckless driving charges include the 13 most dangerous moving violations. Section 46.2-852– 865. It is charged as class 1 misdemeanor – a jailable offense of up to a year and fine that can be as much as $2,500, plus at least a six-month driver’s license suspension. There can also be enhanced minimum jail time if an accident occurs that injures or kills someone, and an additional $250 if you were texting while driving recklessly.
Driving under the influence (DUI) (Section 18.2-266) or under the influence of drugs (DUID) (Section 18.2-269) is also a class 1 misdemeanor with up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 and a driver’s license suspension of up to a year on a first offense (indefinitely for a third). Repeat offenders who clearly exceed acceptable intoxication levels, and drivers who have minors in the vehicle when arrested for DUI, face mandatory minimum jail time of up to six months, depending on their Blood Alcohol Comparison (BAC) level and the number of previous DUI offenses. An ignition interlock Device (IID) is now mandatory for all DUI convictions, if a person seeks to obtain a restricted operator’s license.
Fraud and White-Collar Crime
The most common fraud offense that is pursued in the Commonwealth surrounds thefts by check. It can involve simply writing a bad check (the value of the theft determines whether it is pursued as a felony or misdemeanor), but forging another’s signature on a check is a class 5 felony. Section 18.2-172, 181. Creating forged checks is a class 4 felony, with a prison sentence of two to 10 years and a fine of up to $100,000. And having the tools that were used to design and print forged checks is a class 4 felony. Sections 18.2-178 and 18.2-10(d).
Many are accused of stealing from others without even leaving their home or office: by fraud and deception. The federal government aggressively pursues healthcare fraud. See 18 U.S. Code Section 1347. Those who allegedly commit income tax fraud (26 U.S. Code Section 7201), securities fraud (18 U.S. Code Section 1348), and identity theft (18 U.S.C. Sections 1028) are also pursued. Bankruptcy courts also continue to scrutinize petitions for acts of fraud, when they believe people are hiding assets. 18 U.S. Code Section 157. White collar crime cases can be complex, and an experienced Hampton Roads criminal attorney can work with you to build a strong defense.
Different types and amounts of controlled substances that suspects possess draw a variety of penalties. Section 18.2-250, 251.1. Even though state law allows you to use marijuana for medical purposes, there are clear definitions of what you must do to avoid being charged with possession. It is also a class 5 felony to possess more than a half ounce of marijuana under any circumstances.
Those who manufacture or distribute controlled substances in Virginia can spend as much as 40 years in state prison Section 18.2-248 and pay a fine as high as $500,000. And if charged with a federal drug crime such as distribution, you could face life in prison without parole 21 U.S. Code Section 841(A)-(C).
Most sexual offenses bring additional penalties to the original charges when other offenses serve as underlying acts in the crime. They are separated into two general categories: sexual offenses and those that involve violence. Common sex crime charges in Virginia include:
- Rape (Section 18.2-61), attempted rape (Section 18.2-67.5), and statutory rape
- Aggravated sexual battery (Section 18.2-67.3)
- Taking liberties with a minor (Section 18.2-370)
- Solicitation and prostitution (Section 18.2-346)
- Abduction for an immoral purpose (Section 18.2-355)
- Production, distribution, for example, of child pornography (Section 18.2-374.1)
Some of the more serious charges listed above, such as child pornography, human trafficking, or conspiring with others to commit sex crimes, can be charged as federal felonies. They involve higher jail sentences and fines than those in Virginia. And those convicted of any sex crime (state and/or federal) must register as a sex offender (Virginia Code Section 9.1-902; 42 U.S. Code Section 16913. A Hampton Roads criminal lawyer can explain the consequences of a conviction and the steps that can help build a strong defense.
There are many gun laws that can apply to virtually any weapons-related offense, beginning with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. Sections 18.2-308; 308.01; 308.02; 308.06. There are other provisions that cover weapons charges, including:
- Shooting guns unlawfully (Section 18.2-279)
- Handling firearms recklessly (Section 18.2-282)
- Possessing firearms in prohibited areas (such as airports, churches, or courthouses) (Sections 18.2-287.01; 18.2-283; 18.2-283.1)
- Possessing weapons and ammunition that are specifically prohibited (such as machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, or “cop killer” bullets) (Sections 18.2-288 – 18.2-298 & 18.2-308.3)
- Owning a gun when prohibited (such as unlawful aliens and felons) (Sections 18.2-308.1; 18.2-308.2; 18.2-308.7)
- Carrying of a gun during the commission of a drug-related crime (Section 18.2-308.4) or other felonies.
Additionally, those accused of federal weapons transportation charges (18 U.S. Code Section 926A) and other enhanced federal crimes where weapons are involved, such as child trafficking and conspiracy to commit other federal crimes, can receive prison sentences that could greatly eclipse those for the same convictions under Commonwealth law.