Norfolk Criminal Defense and DUI Lawyer

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Norfolk VirginiaIf you have been arrested, you probably have a lot of questions about what the future holds for you. A lot of people want to know what the potential penalties are for the crime that they are accused of committing and what strategy they should use when it comes to fighting the charges. If you have been charged with a crime in Norfolk, the first step you should make is calling a dedicated and local Norfolk criminal defense and DUI lawyer.

Norfolk is a large city with a population of around 250,000 people and, with that, comes higher crime rates than those seen in other cities and counties in the Commonwealth. There are approximately 13,000 crimes committed here per year, most of which are deemed property crimes as opposed to violent crimes.

Norfolk also has the unfortunate distinction of ranking toward the bottom of national surveys on the safest cities in the U.S.  All this translates to local law enforcement and the Assistant Commonwealth Attorneys taking an aggressive stance in charging and prosecuting crimes. Given the statistics, it’s not out of the ordinary for someone to run afoul of the law or find themselves accused of a crime.

How Criminal Defense Lawyers Might Help With Charges

Crimes are normally designated into two categories, violent and non-violent, although some driving-related actions are also considered a crime rather than an infraction. Being a violent crime as opposed to a non-violent or property crime does not really affect whether or not a certain crime is a felony or a misdemeanor, however. Common charges in Norfolk include:

The Benefits of a Norfolk DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, do not panic. Instead, call a Norfolk DUI lawyer to learn about how they can help you fight to preserve your rights and minimize the impact of this event on your life.

Whether you are charged with drunk driving at a checkpoint, during a traffic stop, or after an accident, the consequences can last a lifetime. There is something that you can do about your intoxicated driving charge, and you are entitled to the same rights and the same level of legal representation as anyone charged with a crime under the law.

An experienced attorney could investigate your case and help you craft the best defense based on your unique needs and circumstances, working to establish reasonable doubt and reduce or dismiss the charges against you. A legal professional could also help to explain:

Drunk Driving Laws

Driving while under the influence means operating a vehicle while one’s abilities are impaired through drugs or alcohol. In the case of alcohol, one is assumed to be impaired if their blood alcohol content is above .08%, yet minors can be charged whenever their BAC is above .02%. However, the real test is one of impairment rather than a bright-line test showing what someone’s BAC is.

If someone is impaired and driving, they can still be arrested. This means that someone with no alcohol in their system can still be arrested if they are impaired, as is the case for drugs and medication, including over-the-counter medication, along with other items that may impair driving, such as the use of inhalants.

Additionally, someone arrested for driving under the influence need not be physically driving when they are arrested. The Virginia courts have defined “operation of a vehicle” in general terms, meaning that someone behind the wheel of a parked car runs the risk of being arrested for a DUI, especially if the motor is running, and they have the ability to attempt to drive the car.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence

The penalties that someone can face in Norfolk and throughout the rest of Virginia for driving under the influence depends on a number of factors, such as the number of prior offenses, if any, whether there was a minor in the car, the BAC of the driver, and whether there was injury, death or property damage caused by the drinking and driving. Examples of drunk driving sentences are:

  • First offense – Minimum $250 fine and one year’s driver’s license revocation. If BAC is over .15, a minimum of five days in jail, and if over .20, a minimum of 10 days in jail
  • Second offense – Minimum $500 fine, up to one year in jail, and three years’ driver’s license revocation. If a second offense is within 10 years, there is a mandatory 10-day jail term, and if it is a second offense within less than five years, there is a mandatory 20-day jail term.  If BAC is over .15, a minimum of 10 days in jail, and if over .20, a minimum of 20 days in jail
  • Third offense – Class 6 felony with the potential for six months in jail if the third offense is within five years, along with a $1,000 fine and indefinite license revocation. You will also not be granted bail while you wait for your trial for a third or subsequent offense within five years
  • Fourth (or subsequent) offense(s) –mandatory one-year jail term

There are other penalties related to drinking and driving, as well. For example, if there was a minor under 17 in the vehicle, there is a minimum of a five-day jail term and a fine between $500 and $1,000. There is also a requirement of having an ignition interlock device ordered to be put in the car, which comes with additional expenses beyond court costs. Furthermore, if someone is convicted of drunk driving, they are required to report to an Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) to determine if treatment is required in order to get their license reinstated. Finally, anyone convicted of intoxicated driving must carry special insurance and keep a record of it on file with the State of Virginia.

One must not overlook any lifetime consequences, either. Someone convicted of a DUI will officially have a criminal record. Although most drunk driving offenses are misdemeanors, this still can affect many areas of a person’s life, such as housing and employment, and may also affect security clearances. For years after their arrest, a person will likely have to pay increased insurance rates for their vehicle. These consequences all make it imperative to contact a hardworking DUI attorney in Norfolk as soon as possible following an arrest.

Felony and Misdemeanor Defined

Misdemeanors are considered less serious crimes under Virginia law than felonies, with the maximum penalties being up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. However, the sentence can range anywhere from a few days or probation to a year in jail, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime and whether there is any criminal history for the defendant.

Felonies are considered far more serious crimes and, as such, sentences can range from a few years to life in prison. Fines can also reach six-figure digits. As with misdemeanors, the length and severity of the sentence depend on several factors, such as one’s criminal background and the severity of the crime. For example, someone convicted of stealing a $1,000 bike with no criminal record would not face the same sentence bestowed on a person found guilty of armed robbery and who has a history of violent crimes.

The treatment of those who are convicted of a crime after the sentence is served is somewhat different depending on if the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony as well. For instance, a felon would not be able to own a firearm under U.S. law and could have issues when it comes to voting rights in Virginia, where someone with a misdemeanor on their record would not have the same issue. However, either type of crime can result in negative long term consequences, even if the crime was relatively minor, such as difficulty passing background checks for jobs and housing. You can work with your Norfolk criminal defense lawyer to develop a case strategy to serve your unique interests, like maintaining your security clearance.

An Aggressive Norfolk Criminal Defense and DUI Attorney Could Help

Because criminal charges are a matter to be taken very seriously, it is important to have the most skilled legal representation to defend your rights. When you set up a consultation with a Norfolk criminal defense and DUI lawyer, we will give you an honest idea about what the future of your case looks like and what all of your options are. A steadfast attorney could also work tirelessly to protect your rights. If you have been arrested or are facing criminal charges, reach out today.