The possible legal repercussions of a criminal conviction in Hanover can be devastating. For tangible penalties, you could be subject to probation, incarceration, driving restrictions, hefty fines, house arrest, community service, et cetera. Even though these consequences are detrimental to your money and time, they do not include the personal repercussions you may be subject to once the case is over.

Rudimentary activities like securing an apartment, finding employment, receiving admittance to college and financial aid, and winning back your family and friends' acceptance can suddenly be challenging. Fortunately, however, you can fight your charges and obtain the most favorable outcome with help from a Hanover criminal defense lawyer, including the prosecutor dropping your case before your court date. At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we aim to help clients avoid the severe consequences of criminal convictions through aggressive legal representation. Whichever charges you face, call us; we will help you regain your freedom.

Types of Crimes In Hanover

Misdemeanors and felonies are the two primary classes of crimes in Hanover. Misdemeanors are the less severe offenses. They carry up to a year in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500, or both. These crimes are classified into different categories, with Class 4 misdemeanors being the least severe and Class 1 being the most severe. The jail term period and amount of court fines imposed vary based on the specific type of misdemeanor offense with which a defendant is charged.

Per Virginia law, misdemeanor convictions are punished by time in jail, but most lead to probation or suspended jail time. Suspended custody time means the defendant need not serve the custody time. However, they will remain under the court’s supervision for some time, and they might be required to serve the custody time if they violate the terms of the court during the suspension period.

To be subject to time in prison in Hanover, you must be found guilty of a felony crime. Like misdemeanors, felony offenses fall under various classes, from Class 1 to Class 6 felonies. The most severe felonies in Hanover are capital offenses, categorized under Class 1 felonies. Capital offenses carry the death sentence.

Most felonies, however, carry a prison sentence. Unlike misdemeanors, felonies carry a sentence of more than twelve months in custody. Additionally, there might be a likelihood of jail time that will be served locally and a fine. Prison time can be suspended, although defendants found guilty of felonies are likely to serve time in prison, whether or not they were sentenced to probation.

Other severe legal disabilities come with felony convictions. A convicted felon cannot vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, purchase or possess firearms, or become a notary public. Felony convictions can also impact government security clearances, immigration status, and securing employment in the private sector.

Wobblers are another category of crime in Virginia. As the name suggests, these are crimes that wobble between felonies and misdemeanors, meaning the prosecutor can choose to file either charge. The prosecutor’s decision to press felony or misdemeanor charges is based on various factors, like the defendant’s criminal history and the case facts.

What To Expect During Misdemeanor Judicial Proceedings In Hanover

If you are suspected of committing a misdemeanor offense in Hanover, you will be issued a Virginia Uniform Summons that includes the date you must attend court. Alternatively, the police will arrest you after the magistrate issues an arrest warrant against you. And you may be issued the date of arraignment to appear in court. The arraignment date refers to the date you will know more about your charges and your rights to an attorney. The presiding judge will also advise you of your right to an attorney and set a date for the trial.

Usually, trial dates are sixty to ninety days away to give the defense ample time to subpoena witnesses, prepare evidence, and undergo the discovery process with the prosecutor or officer. The case could be disposed of or dismissed after an agreement between the defense attorney and the Commonwealth attorney during the trial. If the involved parties do not agree to dismiss or dispose of the case, it may proceed to trial. The trial may happen on the same day or be scheduled for another day.

The General District Courts, with no jury, preside over misdemeanor cases. The judge presiding over the case hears the evidence and determines whether the accused is innocent or guilty. The prosecution must prove the defendant's guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. The judge imposes penalties if an accused is found criminally liable after an oral argument or trial.

Once the trial ends and you are convicted, you have ten days to file your appeal with the Circuit Court. General District Courts are courts of no record, and no deference or weight is granted to decisions rendered in these courts. If you appeal your case to the Circuit Court, you will undergo a fresh trial.

What To Expect During Felony Judicial Proceedings In Hanover

Felonies are more severe crimes than misdemeanors. There are two various ways through which felony offense proceedings may begin in Hanover. You could be issued an arrest warrant similar to one for misdemeanor offenses (the difference is that the arrest warrant for felonies has a preliminary hearing and arraignment date), or the proceedings may begin with a direct indictment.

Take note of all the court dates that apply to you if you have been charged with a felony and appear on time. Failing to attend court if facing felony charges is a distinct felony crime. The judge will issue a bench warrant against you, and the authorities will arrest you. The crime is a Class 6 felony carrying a fine not exceeding $2,500 and a maximum prison sentence of five years. Inform your attorney if you cannot attend court and require a continuance. The attorney can ask the court to move the date.

Also, if you recently missed court because of an unforeseen emergency, your attorney can bring a motion to set aside the bench warrant for failing to appear. The motion will cancel the bench warrant for failing to appear and return the initial charges on the docket for a preliminary hearing. Hire a lawyer who can assist you in navigating the involved procedures.

Felony cases are heard initially in general district courts once an arrest happens. These courts lack juries. An accused is scheduled for an arraignment two to fourteen days after their arrest, at which point the judge will inform them of their right to an attorney. The judge would want to learn about the accused's steps to obtain an attorney. An IAD (Information on Attorney) date will be scheduled approximately 21 days from the arraignment date. During the information on attorney hearing, the accused will have to tell the court whether or not they will hire a lawyer.

The judge additionally schedules the date of the preliminary hearing during your arraignment. The date could be sixty to ninety days away. The date of the preliminary hearing and the trial date are not the same. In a preliminary hearing, the judge determines whether sufficient evidence warrants the case proceeding to trial. At this point, your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution to dismiss the case. The prosecutor may dismiss the charges or reduce them to misdemeanor charges.

If the prosecutor does not dismiss or reduce your case during this stage and the presiding judge finds enough evidence to take the case to trial, your charges will be certified to a grand jury. You do not show up at this jury. The jury will review the evidence the officers and witnesses provided and issue an indictment if it believes the evidence satisfies the conditions of the Virginia Code under which you are charged.

You will present yourself before the Circuit Court approximately four weeks later for Term Day (status hearing). The judge then schedules a trial, either non-jury or jury trial. Both you and the Commonwealth attorney could request a jury trial, but you could also agree to waive it.

Your lawyer will acquire information about your case facts through the discovery process. They will review the details with you and develop strategies for reducing or dismissing the charges. The case in the Circuit Court will then be taken to trial. Alternatively, your lawyer and the prosecutor may work out a plea deal.

Some felony cases originate directly in the circuit court, skipping the entire district court process. Felony charges that commence in district courts start with direct indictments.

A direct indictment is where, without a previous arrest, a case is presented before a grand jury of your peers. The jury returns an indictment, meaning probable cause exists that an offense was perpetrated as claimed, and you are the individual who did it. Once the jury returns the indictment, the judge will issue a bench warrant against you or personally serve you with a direct indictment if you were given notice of the indictment.

Common Types of Crimes Charged In Hanover

The most commonly charged criminal offenses in Hanover include the following:

Weapon Crimes

Most weapon crimes in Hanover involve illegally carrying a gun publicly, often a handgun. Other weapon charges include:

  • Unlawfully discharging a firearm at or within a dwelling
  • Possessing prohibited ammunition and weapons
  • Possessing a gun in prohibited places (for example, churches, airports, and courthouses)
  • Carrying a firearm during the perpetuation of a drug offense or other felonies

Federal laws on weapon charges may also apply to given crimes, particularly if they are committed alongside other federal offenses. Prison terms and fines for federal weapon charges can be more severe than state convictions.

Sex Crimes

Based on the venue, sex offenses in Hanover can be aggressively tried as either federal or state crimes, particularly sex offenses against minors. The consequences of a conviction for a sex offense can be especially severe. Common sex offenses prosecuted in Hanover include:

  • Attempted rape,
  • Rape,
  • Object sexual penetration,
  • Child pornography, and
  • Carnal knowledge of a minor between 13 years and older but below 15 years

Federal sex offense charges carry even harsher consequences than state charges. Some federal laws allow sex offense victims to pursue compensation against their perpetrators in civil court, and everyone who is convicted of a sex offense must comply with the sex offender registration requirement.

Fraud Crimes

Most fraud crimes entail theft by check. However, forging another person's signature on a check is considered a Class 5 felony. Computer fraud and identity theft are both white-collar offenses that are increasing in Hanover, with consequences based on the extent of damage caused to the victim and the amount stolen.

Most deception and fraud offenses are considered federal felonies. The federal government aggressively pursues people who perpetrate healthcare fraud, securities fraud, tax fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and identity theft.

Drug Crimes

Marijuana or various types of regulated substances that people in Hanover possess, plus the amounts they possess, draw different penalties. Federal and Virginia laws categorize controlled substances into six distinct schedules determined by their propensity to inflict addiction and their therapeutic value. The state utilizes these schedules to establish what penalties to impose. The higher the schedule number (Schedule VI, for example), the more lenient the consequences.

The prosecutor must have sufficient evidence to prove the controlled substance you had was either for your own use or that you intended to distribute or sell it. If the prosecutor can find you guilty of intending to distribute or sell drugs, the prison term will be more extended than if you had them solely for your own use.

Theft Crimes

Theft crimes in Hanover can also be charged as felonies and misdemeanors based on the worth of the stolen property and the facts surrounding the crime. If the property value is below $200, it is considered a misdemeanor offense. And if the property value is over $200, the crime becomes a felony. The consequences of these offenses differ significantly. Misdemeanor petit larceny is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, carrying a jail term of one year and court fines not exceeding $2,500.

Felony grand larceny is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of twenty years, based on the specific charges, facts surrounding the case, and any increased felony charges to add to the underlying felony charges.

Common theft charges prosecuted in Hanover include burglary, shoplifting, carjacking, robbery, and white-collar thefts like embezzlement.

Virginia law also provides that all those found guilty of a theft crime compensate victims for their losses. Theft victims can also seek to recover civil damages against people found guilty of stealing their property or money.

Assault Offenses

Most assault offenses that inflict harm on the victim are prosecuted as felonies. A misdemeanor assault can be prosecuted after a slight bodily confrontation, like a threat or shove. Offenses that involve weapons, whereby the victim was severely hurt, or the suspect intended to inflict death or permanent injury on another, are all considered serious felonies and penalized with substantial prison terms and significant fines.

The consequences of a Class 1 misdemeanor assault offense can be as much as one year in custody and court fines not exceeding $2,500. Additional factors could increase assault penalties. For example, the consequences of assault could increase if:

  • The supposed victim is a protected government employee, such as EMT's, judges, or police officers
  • It is a hate crime. Hate crimes are Class 6 felonies.

Domestic violence is prosecuted when the supposed victim is injured by a person deemed a family member, as described under Virginia law. In most cases, domestic offenses are those committed against or by spouses, children, former spouses, siblings, parents, and people who have a child together. Household members include people who have cohabited as described under the law within the past year of the supposed assault.

The consequences of domestic violence could be more serious than most customary assault convictions. Violations of restraining orders issued in domestic assault cases are a severe crime that often involves time in jail.

Reckless Driving and DUI or DWI

Driving while intoxicated with drugs, alcohol, or both (VA. Code 18.2-266) is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor offense. If it is your first offense, you could be subject to up to 12 months of jail time and a maximum fine of $2,500. You will lose your driving privileges for 12 months. License suspension periods are longer for second, third, and subsequent offenders.

Defendants who dramatically exceed a BAC of 0.08% and those who drive while intoxicated with minor passengers in the car at the time of the crime can be subject to longer minimum custody time.

Reckless driving is an umbrella term for severe driving crimes that could lead to similar Class 1 misdemeanor consequences as driving under the influence (up to a year in custody and court fines not exceeding $2,500). A conviction for any reckless driving offense also leads to a driver's license suspension for a maximum of six months.

Excessive speed constitutes a large percentage of reckless driving charges in Hanover because of the many reckless driving speed tickets issued to motorists on US 58 and I-95. 

Find a Hanover Criminal Attorney Near Me

Any conviction, whether for a misdemeanor or felony, can impact your life. Knowing this, you want to fight to avoid a conviction if accused of a criminal offense. Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer will give you a better chance of beating the charges against you. At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we work tirelessly to protect our clients’ rights and help them develop a compelling defense strategy against their charges. If you have been charged in Hanover, we are more than ready and delighted to defend you and help you obtain the best possible outcome. Call our Hanover criminal lawyers at 703-718-5533 for a free consultation.