Making a single bad choice could have serious legal consequences, potentially leading to criminal charges. Criminal law encompasses various areas, and the punishments for convictions can vary depending on the specifics of your case. While misdemeanor convictions can lead to significant penalties, felonies typically carry even harsher sentences. It is important to understand that if you are detained and questioned for a crime, your legal rights may be at risk.

The prosecution can use anything you say against you in court. Therefore, you should remain silent until your lawyer arrives. A criminal defense lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected and will facilitate cooperation with the investigating authorities. At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we are prepared to vigorously fight for your freedom and rights if you are charged with any crime in Henrico, VA.

An Overview of Virginia Criminal Law

If you’re caught violating Virginia law, you could face charges for various crimes. Breaking the law can lead to anything from minor offenses under Virginia Code 46. 2-852 to more serious felony crimes like rape under Virginia Code 18. 2-61.

After preparing the file, the arresting officer forwards it to the prosecution for review. If the evidence is strong, the prosecutor notifies you and files charges in court. Once your attorney receives your accusations, they will be aware of the laws you are alleged to have broken, any potential consequences, and any strong defenses.

Having a comprehensive understanding of the laws related to your offense allows you to build robust defenses, increasing the chances of having your charges reduced or dismissed. An experienced Henrico lawyer will utilize their knowledge of Virginia law to achieve a favorable outcome for your case.

Common Crimes

Virginia Code Section 18.2 provides a comprehensive list of crimes and their corresponding penalties. Given the intricacy of these regulations, you should consider the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer who can support you from the moment of your arrest until the conclusion of your case. After an arrest, you could be facing various criminal accusations, which we will discuss further.

Driving While Intoxicated

According to Virginia Code 18.2-266, it is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor to operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The following actions are deemed illegal under this law:

  1. Driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or above. You should be aware that driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit puts you at risk of getting arrested and prosecuted, even if you do not exhibit any intoxication-related symptoms.
  2. Operating a vehicle after consuming a significant amount of alcohol.
  3. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or any other narcotics.

The prosecution needs to prove two things. First, that you were intoxicated at the time you committed the offense, and second, that you were operating an automobile. The arresting officer looks for the following indicators of intoxication:

  • Swerving.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • Reckless driving.

In addition, officers can test your sobriety in the field to determine if you are impaired. They can also take a chemical testing sample or use a breathalyzer to measure the alcohol content in your blood.

The court determines punishments based on the circumstances of the situation and the number of prior DUI convictions if the prosecutor successfully secures a conviction. A first- or second DWI is considered a misdemeanor. If found guilty for the first time, you will be subject to:

  • Court fines not exceeding $250.
  • A 12-month suspension of the defendant's driver's license.
  • Install an ignition interlock device (IID) for six months.
  • Serving Jail time.
  • Your auto insurance rates may increase due to your high-risk driving record.

However, if your case involves aggravating characteristics such as a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.15% or driving while intoxicated while carrying a child, your sentence may be enhanced.

Many of these cases are resolved outside of court through a guilty plea in exchange for a lesser charge, such as wet reckless, as part of a plea agreement. Compared to a first DWI, a wet reckless offense carries a less severe penalty.

Theft Crimes

Theft crimes, also known as larceny crimes, involve the act of stealing a valuable item from someone else to deprive the rightful owner of its benefits. These crimes are classified as either grand or petty theft, depending on the amount of money lost. If the stolen amount is $1,000 or less, it is considered petty theft; otherwise, it is classified as grand larceny. Grand theft carries a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison when prosecuted as a felony, while petty theft convictions carry a maximum twelve-month prison sentence.

The following offenses fall under the category of theft crimes:

  1. Virginia Burglary

Burglary, as defined by Virginia Code Section 18.2-89, refers to the unlawful entry into someone's residence with the intent to commit a felony or larceny once inside. It's important to note that even if the building door is open when you enter, you will still be subject to the associated costs and legal consequences.

To secure a conviction, the prosecutor needs to prove the following elements of the crime:

  • You broke into or used force to enter someone else's property.
  • The activities took place at night.
  • You committed a violent misdemeanor by breaking into the building illegally.

Burglary is commonly charged as a Class 6 felony, which carries a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison. Additionally, the court may impose a maximum monetary penalty of $100,000.

On the other hand, statutory burglary is considered a Class 2 or 3 felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years if found guilty. Speaking with a lawyer as soon as possible will help you prepare for the proceedings and avoid a conviction, as a burglary sentence can have a profound impact on your life.

  1. Embezzlement

According to Section 18.2-111 of the Virginia Code, embezzlement is the dishonest and illegal act of misusing assets or a check that your employer has given you. If the embezzled amount is less than $1, 000, it is considered a minor felony. However, if the amount exceeds $1,000, it is classified as a major theft.

The process of making an arrest and bringing charges involves multiple audits and investigations. However, being accused of embezzlement does not automatically make you guilty. A knowledgeable Henrico criminal defense attorney can help you build strong arguments to avoid a guilty verdict.

  1. Using Someone Else's Vehicle Without Their Permission

Unauthorized use of another person's vehicle is strictly prohibited under Virginia Code 18.2-102. Even if you claim to have borrowed the car from a friend, it will not prevent a conviction. Therefore, it is crucial to take the charges seriously.

According to this section of the code, the prosecutor is required to prove the following elements:

  • You took action without authorization.
  • You weren't the one who stole the vehicle.
  • You also drove or used someone else's car, pet, or airplane.
  • You intended to temporarily deprive the car's rightful owner of its enjoyment.

If found guilty of the Class 6 felony charge, the offender could face up to five years in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500 in court costs. However, it's important to note that, with the assistance of your Henrico criminal defense lawyer, you may be able to get a charge reduction. So, there's no need to worry too much about these penalties.

Drug Crimes

Both simple possession and possession with intent to sell are considered drug offenses. The quantity of drugs involved and the seriousness of your illicit activity determine the severity of your punishment.

Here are some typical charges for drug possession:

  • Transportation of Controlled Substances

Under subsection 18.2-248.01, it is illegal to transport eight ounces of marijuana or at least one ounce of cocaine for sale. This offense is classified as a felony, and if found guilty, the court can impose a $100,000 fine along with a mandatory minimum 36-month sentence in prison. If you have a past conviction for a drug offense, you run the risk of an obligatory ten-year prison sentence, with the possibility of up to forty years in prison.

  • Possession of Controlled Substances

It is illegal to purchase or possess restricted substances without a valid prescription. Possession can be classified as constructive or actual. Constructive possession refers to having control over where the drugs are kept or how they are used, even if they are not physically on your person. Actual possession occurs when the narcotics are found on your person.

The list of medications you possess will determine the penalty under this clause. If you are convicted of narcotics listed in Schedules I and II, you could face a maximum court fine of $ 2,500 and a jail sentence of 120 months. If the substances you are in charge of are classified as Schedule III, a twelve-month jail sentence for misdemeanors will be imposed.

Possession of Schedule IV drugs is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor, which can result in a maximum fine of $1,000 and a maximum jail sentence of six months. The court may fine the defendant $500 if the prosecutor is successful in getting a conviction for Class V drugs.

It is crucial to have a skilled Henrico criminal attorney on your side if you want to avoid jail. A knowledgeable lawyer can work with the judge to potentially reduce your jail term to probation.

  • Possession of Marijuana

Acquiring or possessing cannabis is illegal under Virginia law. If the prosecution successfully proves all the elements of the case and obtains a guilty verdict, you may be subjected to a thirty-day jail sentence, a $500 court fine, or both. In cases where you have a prior drug felony conviction, your sentence could be increased to twelve years.

Henrico Violent Offenses

Whether the violence was an isolated incident or the result of ongoing abuse, victims of violent crimes suffer greatly. Examples of violent offenses that carry severe penalties include murder, assault, battery, domestic abuse, and firearms crimes.

Some common violent crimes include:

  • Murder

Murder or homicide is defined in Subsection 18.1-22 as the unlawful, premeditated death of another person. There are two types of murder, with the first being the most serious. If you imprison, starve, wait for, or poison the victim before taking their life, you can be prosecuted for this crime. Furthermore, if someone else dies during a rape, robbery, burglary, or arson crime, you could be charged with first-degree homicide.

The difference between capital and first-degree murder is that in the former case, the prosecution must prove that your actions were deliberate and premeditated. First-degree homicide is classified as a Class 2 felony, which carries a minimum sentence of twenty years in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000 upon conviction.

On the other hand, if you kill someone due to your careless actions or disregard for the safety of others, you may be charged with second-degree homicide. As these accusations do not involve premeditation, a guilty verdict could lead to a sentence ranging from less than five to forty years.

A conviction for murder or homicide can have a severe impact on your reputation, making it difficult to start fresh even after being released from prison. To prevent such a conviction, you can seek legal counsel as soon as possible for your case.

  • Kidnapping

If you physically restrain or deceive someone to deprive them of their freedom, you can be charged with abduction under subsection 18.2-47. However, it's important to note that this law does not specifically address the actions of police officers in carrying out their duties. Abduction or kidnapping is classified as a Class 5 felony, which carries significant punishment guidelines.

  • Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter occurs when someone kills another person without malicious intention. Unlike murder charges, it lacks the elements of premeditation and malice aforethought. If found guilty of manslaughter, the court may sentence you to a maximum of ten years in prison and a $250 fine.

A Henrico criminal defense attorney can defend you if you are charged with any of these crimes. Your attorney can raise defenses such as genuine innocence, self-defense, accidental death, and insanity.

Sex Crimes

Serious sex crimes that can have a lasting impact include rape, solicitation, lewd conduct, sexual assault, and forced sodomy. Let's delve deeper into these crimes:

  • Sexual Abuse

Sexually touching someone's genitalia by using force or threats is strictly prohibited under subsection 18.2-68.4. This offense is classified as a felony, with a maximum punishment of $2,500 and a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail. It's important to note that if the victim is admitted to an institution, sexual assault or battery is also considered a felony.

  • Virginia Sexual Assault

Rape is defined as engaging in non-consensual sexual relations with an individual who is of legal age, as specified in subsections 18.2–61. Statutory rape, on the other hand, refers to a sexual offense that carries severe consequences for those found guilty when the victim is a minor. To prosecute, it is necessary to demonstrate the use of coercion, threats, or violence during the sexual encounter.

  • Infected Sexual Assault

Engaging in anal intercourse or any sexual penetration while being aware of having an STD and intending to spread the illness is strictly forbidden. This act is considered a Class 1 felony, which carries severe consequences such as imprisonment, court fines, and the obligation to register as a sexual offender. If you are a registered sex offender, you should consider consulting with an attorney to assist you in avoiding conviction, as the implications can have a significant and negative impact on your life.

What to Do If You're Charged with a Crime

If you want to stand a fighting chance against criminal charges in court, it's essential to get a seasoned Henrico defense attorney on your side. No matter how minor the infraction may seem, it should be treated with caution, as a conviction could have a profound impact on your life.

A public defender often has a heavy caseload, handling multiple cases simultaneously, so it may be wise to consider other options for your defense. Public defenders may prioritize plea deals, even if they result in harsher punishment. To ensure a positive outcome, you can consult with a private lawyer who can thoroughly analyze the details of your case and develop strong defenses, rather than accepting the first offer presented.

Find a Henrico Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me

If you are caught breaking the law, you could face charges for a felony or misdemeanor crime. The most common crimes for which you would be charged include DUIs, drug offenses, violent crimes, and sexual offenses. If convicted by the court for any of these acts, the repercussions could have a life-changing impact. However, not all suspicions lead to convictions. At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we can assist you in building solid defenses against these accusations to achieve the best possible outcome. Call us today at 703-718-5533 to talk to a local Henrico criminal defense attorney.