Facing an arrest and criminal charges in Virginia can be a devastating experience. A criminal conviction can attract serious criminal and collateral consequences, depending on the exact laws you violated. For most misdemeanor and felony convictions, spending time behind bars may be inevitable. Additionally, the court may send you on probation and mandate that you pay a fine.
After serving and completing your jail or prison sentence, a criminal conviction leaves a permanent criminal record. This will impact your ability to seek employment, housing, or even join the military. Therefore, it is important that you aggressively fight your criminal charges.
Having a dedicated legal team can significantly improve your chances of beating your criminal charges and avoiding harsh consequences. At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we work hard to protect your constitutional rights and help you build a strong defense against your criminal charges. We provide clients with expert legal guidance and representation to fight their charges in Herndon, VA.
Virginia law defines theft as the unlawful taking of another person’s property without the intention of returning it. The Virginia criminal justice system is aggressive in prosecuting theft crimes. For this reason, even minor theft offenses could have harsh criminal consequences.
The type and value of the property you take from another person significantly determine the type of charge that the prosecution will file against you. In Virginia, theft is categorized into two different larceny charges, including:
- Petit Larceny
Your offense will fall under petit larceny if you pickpocket up to $5 or steal property worth less than $1,000. Petit larceny is punishable by a one-year jail sentence. If you have prior larceny convictions, they could aggravate your punishment for your offense.
- Grand Larceny
Grand larceny involves stealing items worth more than $1,000. Grand larceny is a felony. A conviction for a crime attracts severe penalties. With the guidance of a skilled Herndon criminal attorney, you can fight to have your crime reduced to petit larceny.
The following are common theft crimes defined under petit and grand larceny under Virginia law:
Virginia Code 18.2-58 defines robbery as the unlawful taking of another person’s property through force, violence, or intimidation. Before you are convicted of robbery, the prosecution must prove these elements:
- You took property. People take property or move it far from the owner. The prosecution must prove that you intended to deprive the property owner of its rights.
- The property belonged to another person. Taking property is illegal when the item does not belong to you. You can be charged with robbery for taking property that has been entrusted to someone else.
- You took the property against the victim's will. Taking property from another person becomes robbery when the alleged victim does not consent to your actions.
- You used force or violence. The use of force or intimidation is the element that separates robbery from other theft crimes. Using force against another person causes them to fear for their safety and thus avoid resisting the robbery.
You can be charged with first- or second-degree robbery. The prosecution will consider the facts of your case before filing criminal charges. In Virginia, a robbery conviction will attract a prison sentence of twenty years.
Under Virginia law, shoplifting involves taking an item from a retail store to deprive the establishment of it permanently. The prosecution must prove that you intentionally took an item from the store in your shoplifting charge. Additionally, your intent to keep the item for yourself must be clear.
You can be charged with misdemeanor or felony shoplifting, depending on the value of the item you took. A misdemeanor conviction, in this case, will see you spend a year in jail. As a felony, shoplifting can cause you to spend ten years in prison.
You can be charged with burglary for entering another person’s dwelling forcefully. Before you are convicted of burglary. The prosecution must prove the following elements before you are convicted of burglary:
- You broke into another person's property. Breaking into a property means that you entered forcefully. The amount of force you use to enter the building does not need to cause damage. You can be charged with burglary for using intimidation to enter the building.
- You entered the property. Another element that must be clear to obtain a conviction is that you entered the building. A burglary will be complete if you enter the home or property to commit a crime.
- You entered the property at night. You will only be found guilty of burglary if the forced entry occurred at night.
- You intended to commit larceny or a felony. Your intent when entering the dwelling must be clear before you are convicted of burglary.
Defense Against Theft Crimes in Virginia
Facing an arrest and conviction for theft can have serious consequences. Therefore, fighting the charges should be your priority. Some of the defenses you can use against your theft charge include the following:
- Insufficient evidence. For each theft crime, the commonwealth must prove all the elements of the crime before a conviction. If one of the elements is unclear, you can claim that the court lacks enough evidence to convict you.
- False allegations. Most theft crimes occur during the night. Therefore, it can be challenging for the victims to pinpoint the perpetrator.
- Constitutional violations. Law enforcement officers may be tempted to use extreme measures to collect evidence against you. If an officer violates your constitutional rights during a theft investigation, you can use this fact to mitigate your charges.
- Good faith possession. If you believed you owned a property rightfully, you could not be charged with stealing it.
Virginia's drug crime laws are strict. You will be arrested and charged with a drug crime for
- Possession of a controlled substance.
- Distribution of controlled substances.
- Sale and transportation of controlled drugs.
Controlled substances are drugs that the government has regulated. These could include illegal narcotics or prescription medications. An arrest for a minor offense like simple possession can have long-lasting consequences.
Common drug crimes under Virginia law include:
Possession of Drugs
Drug possession is a common crime charged under Virginia Code 18.2-250. The nature of your charges and the penalty you face for drug possession vary depending on the following factors:
- Amount of the substance you possessed.
- Your criminal history.
- The type of controlled substance involved.
- The location where you committed the crime.
The penalty for drug possession in Virginia varies from fines for possession of schedule IV drugs to a ten-year prison sentence for possessing class I substances.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Under Virginia Code 18.2-265.3, "drug paraphernalia" is any item or instrument used for manufacturing, packaging, or using illegal drugs. These items may indicate drug use or the intent to administer the substances.
Transporting a Controlled Substance into Virginia
You can be arrested and charged under Virginia Code 18.2-248.01 if you transport a controlled substance intending to sell it. Transporting a controlled substance for sale in Virginia is a felony. You could spend up to forty years in prison for the crime.
Possession of Marijuana
It is a crime to knowingly possess marijuana that was not obtained with a valid prescription. Marijuana possession is a misdemeanor for first-time offenders. The court will impose a jail sentence of up to thirty days for the crime. The court may also impose a $500 fine. For a second and subsequent conviction, marijuana possession will result in a one-year jail sentence.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs is illegal in Virginia. You can be arrested and charged with DUID if marijuana, prescription drugs, or other controlled substances influence your driving behavior. Driving under the influence of drugs is charged as a misdemeanor.
Prescription drug fraud
You will be charged with prescription drug fraud for engaging in the following acts:
- You make or use a false prescription to obtain a controlled drug.
- You use a fake name or ID to fill a prescription.
- You get prescription medications from your employer.
- Lying about your health condition to receive prescription medications
If you face charges for a drug crime in Herndon, VA, you may use the following defenses:
- Unlawful search and seizure.
- Improper drug testing procedures.
- Lack of drug possession.
- Lawful possession of the controlled substance.
- Challenge the quantity of the drug found in your possession.
In Virginia, violent crimes are offenses committed directly against another person. A violent crime may result from a sudden act or a history of mistreatment. Most violent crimes are charged as felonies, and their conviction attracts serious consequences. Some of these crimes include:
Sexual Assault and Battery
You can be arrested and charged with sexual battery if you touch another person’s intimate parts without their consent. The crime of sexual assault can be classified as simple or aggravated.
Simple assault charges result from the forced sexual touch of another person’s intimate body parts. Simple sexual assault is a misdemeanor. You will spend a year in jail for misdemeanor sexual assault. If the victim of your crime is a minor, the prosecution could file charges for aggravated sexual assault.
Murder is the unlawful killing of another person. Causing severe injuries that later cause another person’s death could attract arrest and murder charges. In Virginia, murder is divided into three categories, including:
- Capital murder. In Virginia, capital murder is one of the most severe offenses. You will be charged with this offense if you act with disregard for human life.
- First-degree murder. The premeditated killing of another person is classified as first-degree murder. You could also face these charges if your criminal acts result in another person’s death.
- Second-degree murder. Other forms of murder that do not fall under the capital or first degree are charged under the second degree.
An arrest for murder can have long-lasting effects on your life. Therefore, you must aggressively fight the charges.
Virginia Code 18.2-47 defines kidnapping as using force, deception, or intimidation to detain another person. Before you are convicted of kidnapping, the prosecutor must prove that you detained the victim with the intention to:
- Deprive the person of their liberty.
- Withhold or conceal the person from the authorities.
- Subject the victim to forced labor.
Kidnapping can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The circumstances of your case will affect the nature of your charges. As a felony, a violation of Virginia Code 18.2-47 is punished with a prison sentence of ten years.
You commit the crime of carjacking when you forcefully steal another person's vehicle. You will only be convicted of carjacking if the commonwealth can prove the following factors:
- You gained control of another person's vehicle.
- You used force or violence against the victim of your crime.
- You intended to deprive the vehicle owner of its use, permanently or temporarily.
Carjacking is a serious felony. The maximum sentence for a carjacking conviction is fifteen years in prison.
Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person without malice. Mostly, this crime occurs in the heat of passion. Unlike murder, manslaughter does not require premeditation. Manslaughter is a class 5 felony. The punishment you receive after your conviction for the crime depends on how your manslaughter charge is classified.
The court will impose a prison sentence of ten years after your manslaughter conviction. The court can also impose a $2,500 fine. If you commit the crime of voluntary manslaughter while intoxicated, you could suffer a driver's license revocation. You will be charged with aggravated manslaughter if your actions disregard the lives of others.
Even when you face an arrest and criminal charges, you can raise a defense against your charges for a violent crime and secure a favorable outcome. Common defenses you can use include:
- Mistaken identification.
- False allegations.
- Police misconduct.
- Claim that your actions were accidental.
Domestic violence involves the use of force or threats against a family member. Domestic violence is a serious matter in Virginia. Law enforcement officers do not need one to make a domestic violence arrest. If you threaten another person's safety, you will be arrested. When police officers receive a domestic violence report, they will observe the situation and listen to witness testimony before deciding on the arrest.
You can be charged with misdemeanor or felony domestic violence. A felony domestic violence conviction may result in a five-year prison sentence. A domestic violence misdemeanor conviction will make you spend a year in jail.
You could face a penalty enhancement if there are aggravating circumstances in your domestic violence case. Common aggravating factors include:
- Prior convictions for domestic violence.
- Prior convictions for other violent crimes.
- Severe injury to a victim.
A charge of domestic violence does not mean you will be convicted. Seeking legal guidance from a Herndon criminal lawyer is important to beating the charge.
The United States Constitution allows you to purchase and own a firearm legally. However, Virginia gun laws regulate the type of firearm you can own and where you can use it. You cannot use a firearm in the following areas:
- Places of worship.
- Airport terminal.
- Public areas.
- School compounds
Common gun offenses you can be charged with under Virginia law include:
Carrying a Concealed Weapon
Under Virginia Code 18.2-308, carrying a concealed firearm in public is a crime. A first offense for carrying a concealed firearm is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Individuals licensed to carry firearms in their vehicles are exempt from laws on carrying concealed firearms. If you believe you are protected from these laws, you will need a skilled Herndon defense lawyer to help protect your rights.
Shooting from a Vehicle
You can be arrested and charged for shooting a firearm from a vehicle. Such conduct creates a significant risk of injuring or killing another person. For this reason, shooting from a vehicle is a serious offense that results in felony charges.
Brandishing a Firearm
Virginia Code 18.2-282 makes it a crime for someone to point, hold, or brandish a firearm. The prosecution uses the following elements to establish your guilt under this statute:
- You held, pointed, or brandished a firearm.
- You brandished the firearm in a way that could induce fear in another person.
Find a Competent Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
You risk facing arrest and criminal charges if you violate Virginia criminal law. You can be arrested for committing different offenses, including theft crimes, drug crimes, domestic violence, and gun offenses, among others. A criminal conviction in Virginia attracts severe legal and collateral consequences.
Fortunately, all arrests and criminal charges do not result in convictions. You can fight off the charges by presenting a strong defense strategy. Hiring and maintaining a skilled criminal lawyer is important as you battle criminal charges. Your attorney will guide you through ongoing investigations and advise you on the potential consequences of your conviction.
At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we understand the impact that a criminal conviction could have on your life and future. Our Herndon criminal attorneys will offer the guidance you need to secure a favorable outcome in your case. Contact us at 703-718-5533 to discuss your case details.