In 2019, the Virginia Police Department reported approximately 275,000 arrests. The statistics show that arrests are common and can happen to anyone at any time. Arrests are overwhelming and stressful, whatever the reason. You must understand your rights and have legal representation. The District Attorney (DA) will strive to demonstrate to the court that you are a criminal.

At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we will explain your charges, the criminal process, and the best defense strategies for a favorable verdict. Our Caroline County defense attorneys will work tirelessly to prevent a wrongful conviction.

Caroline County Criminal Charges Types

The common criminal counts you will face in Caroline County are:

Sex Crime Charges

A sex crime refers to any sexual misconduct committed against another party without their approval or against a party that cannot legally give consent because of their age, physical impairment, or intoxication.

Several offenses can lead to sex crime counts. One of them is rape. You face these charges when you participate in penetrative sex with another party or cause someone to participate in sexual intercourse under the following circumstances:

  • When the alleged victim is under thirteen years
  • The victim has a physical or mental impairment
  • Against the victim’s will through physical force, intimidation, or threats

Another sex offense is having carnal knowledge of a person below the age of majority or a minor. The offense involves engaging in penetrative sex utilizing an object, sexual intercourse, sodomy, or oral sex. The severity of your charges and sentencing depends on the age difference between the perpetrator and the victim.

Similarly, taking indecent liberties with a child can lead to sex offense charges. The crime entails exposing your genitals or intimate parts to a minor when you are not married to them. Again, requesting a minor to expose their genitals, fondle them, or participate in sodomy or sexual intercourse attracts sex crime charges.

Another sex crime you can face charges for is child pornography. The crime entails the possession, production, or distribution of sexual images or videos of children.

Other sexual offenses include:

  • Forcible sodomy
  • Incest
  • Sexual battery
  • Prostitution

Crimes like sexual battery and prostitution can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the case’s circumstances. A misdemeanor attracts at most twelve months of jail incarceration, while a felony attracts at most 120 months.

A conviction for a direct felony like rape or child pornography will result in decades of incarceration or life sentencing. Additionally, the presiding judge can instruct that you enlist as a sex offender, resulting in devastating consequences. Offenses that can force the judge to impose the obligation to enlist as a sexual predator are:

  • Sexually violent offenses
  • Rape
  • Sex trafficking
  • Sexual penetration using an object
  • Forcible sodomy

Thankfully, with the assistance of your Caroline County defense attorney, you can contest the charges and prevent a guilty verdict or have the charges reduced to a lesser offense with more lenient penalties.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Crimes

Virginia statutes criminalize the following conduct while driving an automobile:

  • Being intoxicated by alcohol or controlled substances
  • Having a blood alcohol weight beyond the designated limit of .08%
  • Having a blood alcohol mass of .1% milligrams per liter of methamphetamine

DWI is a priorable offense, meaning the severity of your offense depends on your drunk or drugged driving record in the last ten years. Also, you will face harsher penalties if your intoxicated driving results in death or severe injuries.

If it is your first DWI offense, you will face misdemeanor charges if you did not cause an accident, injuries, or death. A guilty verdict for the offense attracts at most twelve months of jail incarceration, twelve months of driving privileges withdrawal, and a court financial fine of $2,500. If your license has been withdrawn, you can apply for a restricted license only after fitting an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle.

A guilty verdict for a second DWI attracts at most one year of county jail incarceration, 36 months of driving privileges withdrawal, half a year of IID installation, and no more than $2,500 court fines.

A conviction for a third offense will result in a court fine of $2,500, license revocation, and prison incarceration for at most 60 months. 

A DWI is a Class Six felony if it causes substantial bodily injuries. Causing death by drinking and driving is filed as vehicular manslaughter, and a guilty verdict attracts at most 120 months in prison.

The penalties for DWI are severe, but you can avoid them with the help of your Caroline County defense attorney. The attorney will contest the charges or negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the crime to a wet reckless.

White-Collar Offenses

White-collar crimes encompass criminal actions that involve fraud or dishonesty. These cases are usually complex because of the huge financial records involved. Embezzlement is one of the most common white-collar crimes in Virginia. It encompasses obtaining money or property entrusted to you fraudulently. The offense is a misdemeanor when the embezzled property is less than $200. Embezzlement is filed as a felony if the value of the embezzlement is above $200. A felony conviction attracts no more than $2,500 in court fines and prison incarceration for no more than twenty years.

Another crime is money laundering, which is defined as spending money obtained unlawfully for lawful purposes. It is a felony punishable by up to forty years of prison incarceration and monetary court fines of no more than $500,000.

Identity theft is also a white-collar offense that entails acquiring someone’s identifying information to access their financial records to borrow money. The identifying details can also be used to transfer ownership of real property. The offense is filed as a level five felony and is harshly punished. 

Other white-collar crimes are:

  • Tax fraud
  • Credit card theft
  • Extortion
  • Forgery
  • Conspiracy

A guilty verdict for these offenses will affect your career and finances. Therefore, you should fight the accusations by hiring a criminal attorney knowledgeable about these crimes.

Theft Crimes

Virginia categorizes theft offenses into larceny. The first category of theft-related crimes is grand larceny, theft of property worth over $1,000. However, you can face grand theft charges because of pickpocketing, even when the item's value is less than $1,000. Grand larceny is a felony whose guilty verdict results in $2,500 or less and a prison sentence ranging from twelve to two hundred and forty months.

The other category is petit larceny or theft, which involves stealing at most $5 from a person or an item worth at most $200, firearms excluded. The offense is a misdemeanor that attracts twelve months of jail incarceration or $2,500 in court fines.

When you have a prior conviction for petit larceny, a subsequent conviction will result in mandatory thirty days to twelve months of jail incarceration.

If you face theft crime charges in Virginia, contact a defense attorney to conduct an independent investigation and gather evidence into the allegations to help you contest the charges. An attorney will also negotiate a plea deal; if no settlement is reached, they will defend you in the trial.

Violent Crimes

A violent offense can stem from a sudden occurrence or an extended history of maltreatment. Domestic assault is an example of a violent offense. Others include:

  • Homicide
  • Simple assault
  • Malicious wounding

Assault and domestic assault can be classified as misdemeanors or felonies. Nevertheless, serious offenses like arson, DWI maiming, or aggravated wounding are felonies whose conviction attracts 240 months to life incarceration.

Whatever the reason for your arrest and charges, navigating the justice system can be challenging, and crafting defenses to defeat the allegations is daunting. At this point, you should bring in a competent criminal attorney in Caroline County to help you contest the charges. An attorney knowledgeable of local court processes knows the obstacles you will likely face and will help you tackle them for a streamlined court process and favorable outcome.

Understanding the Criminal Court Process

If you have been arrested for any Virginia criminal offense, it is crucial to understand the steps that follow to reduce anxiety. The trial process begins with an arrest. After arrest, the police place you in custody at the nearest police station, depending on your crime. Here, you undergo the booking process, including fingerprinting, mugshots, and recording your personal information.

After booking, you will be arraigned before a judge, who will read your charges and then ask you to plead. Before taking the plea, talk to your Caroline County defense attorney to advise you appropriately. Also, the presiding judge can hold the bail proceeding during arraignment to determine if you should be released from jail pending trial and the bail figure. Bail proceedings are usually sudden, so you need to hire an attorney immediately after arrest to gather essential facts of the case that can help them make compelling arguments for the judge to grant a fair bail amount or release you on your own recognizance.

Before trial, the court will schedule a pretrial hearing to allow your defense attorney to file any necessary motions to help your case. The motions aim to contest unlawful evidence admissibility, suppress particular statements, or negotiate procedural matters that could lead to an unfair trial.

The next stage is the discovery phase, where the opposing parties exchange proof they plan on submitting to the court at trial. By sharing evidence, each party knows the strengths and weaknesses of their case, preventing surprises in the trial.

Many criminal cases are settled out of court. After the discovery stage, both parties will be willing to negotiate. The prosecutor is not ready to go to trial with a weak case; they will likely lose. Therefore, if they are not guaranteed a conviction because of loopholes in their case, they will offer a plea deal. Your attorney should negotiate the deal for a reduced charge or lenient penalties.

If no settlement is reached, the next phase is trial. Before the trial, your legal representative should prepare adequately by collecting proof, identifying eyewitnesses, and developing compelling defense strategies.

When you opt for a jury trial, your legal counsel and the prosecutor will be involved in the selection process. Once jury members have been identified, the trial date can be scheduled.

During the trial, the opposing sides will make opening statements, submit evidence, question witnesses, and make closing statements. The jury then deliberates on the matter and shares its verdict with the judge, determining whether you are guilty or innocent. If the court rules you are guilty, the court will arrange a sentencing hearing to read your sentence.

Even after the court sentences you, you still have options. If you believe errors impacted the jury's verdict, you can appeal the court’s decision in an appellate court.

Customizing your Defenses

There is no predefined way of crafting legal defenses. Every criminal case is special, even if the crime is the same. Your attorney must evaluate the unique circumstances in your case and tailor your defenses to ensure a fair verdict.

General defense strategies will barely win the case. Your attorney must tailor the defenses to your case’s unique circumstances. They should consider the case’s nature, available proof, and criminal record to craft legal defenses.

A customized defense starts with a thorough review of the proof gathered by your attorney and that of the prosecutor. Therefore, the discovery stage is crucial in building strong defenses because it gives your attorney a chance to review proof against you, identify weaknesses, inconsistencies, or gaps, and use them to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case, creating doubt in the minds of the jury that you committed the alleged crime.

Depending on your situation, the attorney can develop favorable defenses to increase the chances of a positive outcome. The common defenses for criminal charges are:

  • Misidentification
  • Self-defense or defense of others
  • Lack of intent to commit the crime
  • The investigative agencies engaged in illegal search or seizure

Other defense strategies you can apply depend on the crime you are accused of.

Legal precedent will also be critical in deciding the viable defenses your lawyer will adopt. An experienced attorney will visit previous cases like yours that established legal precedents and cite them to build solid arguments that will result in a favorable outcome.

Sometimes, the evidence against you can be overwhelming, making a guilty verdict inevitable. In these circumstances, the attorney will not focus on proving your innocence. They will present mitigating circumstances to compel the court to impose a lenient sentence. The attorney will cite your clean criminal record, community contribution, or the situation that influenced your criminal conduct.

Customizing defense strategies also involves understanding local court processes. Therefore, when hiring, find a local attorney representing defendants like you in the same court. These legal representatives will understand the local court intricacies and help you navigate them smoothly, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Tailoring defenses also encompasses your attorney’s communication skills. An attorney with experience in negotiating will negotiate a favorable plea deal and ensure a settlement is reached before the case proceeds to trial.

However, when the case reaches the trial stage, a competent attorney will be instrumental in preparing tailored defense strategies. Your attorney's understanding of court processes will also be evident during the various trial stages, such as opening and closing statements, witness cross-examination, and evidence submission.

A competent attorney is the best investment you can make to win your criminal case. Therefore, find an attorney who will take the time to review your case, understand the facts, and develop legal defenses to defeat the accusations. With an experienced attorney, you will have peace of mind because your future and freedom are safe.

Benefits of Using a Competent Defense Attorney

A formal charge for a criminal violation can be devastating, and the consequences of a guilty verdict are life-altering. Therefore, you should consider partnering with an experienced defense lawyer to explain what to expect and defend you in court for a favorable result.

One of the reasons you need your Caroline County defense attorney is that they have the legal expertise to navigate complex court processes and understand Virginia criminal statutes and legal precedents, enabling them to develop the best legal defenses. The attorney will explain how the court deals with criminal violations and what to expect from the justice system and prosecutor.

Similarly, a skilled attorney will protect your rights from the authorities' power abuse. When you hire an attorney immediately after an arrest or learn of an impending arrest, they will explain all your rights and safeguard you from police misconduct that could lead to a wrongful conviction.

  • Knowledge of local criminal statutes
  • Excellent negotiation skills
  • Courtroom experience
  • They reduce the stress associated with criminal cases

Other advantages of having a competent attorney in your corner are:

A competent defense lawyer is what you need for a fair outcome.

Find a Skilled Defense Attorney Near Me

Criminal counts can make your future seem uncertain. However, you should not walk this path alone. Partnering with an experienced Caroline County defense attorney will secure your future. At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we will customize our defenses to address your unique charges. Call us at 703-718-5533 to schedule a meeting.