Any person accused of committing a crime in Virginia, even a minor offense, faces the possibility of spending up to one year incarcerated in jail, depending on the severity of the act. Additionally, those found guilty of a felony face substantially longer prison terms. Some crimes that seem similar could be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, based on the circumstances of the case.

Even the most serious violations of Virginia's driving laws can result in a period of imprisonment for the offender, depending on the severity of the crime. If you are facing criminal charges in Lorton, Virginia, you can contact the Virginia Criminal Attorney for skilled criminal defense services.

Virginia Criminal Laws

There is a wide range of criminal charges that can be brought against you in Virginia. Charges vary from less severe accusations like reckless driving (as per Virginia Code § 46.2-852) to highly heinous crimes such as felony rape (as per Code § 18.2-61.)

Once you are charged, you'll be notified of the charges for which you are being accused. Your attorney will be able to go over the potential penalties and fines, viable legal strategies, and aspects of each offense that the prosecution must prove.

Understanding the laws is an important component of developing a strong defense against criminal accusations, and a defense attorney who is well versed in Virginia laws will have the necessary knowledge to understand how the law will apply to the case.

Common Criminal Charges in Lorton

Title 18.2 under Virginia's state code outlines detailed explanations and consequences for a variety of criminal acts committed throughout Virginia. Due to the complexity of the criminal laws, which cover everything from forgery charges to murder, it is crucial that every defendant team up with a lawyer skilled in handling a wide array of allegations.

Among the most common criminal charges throughout the state are:

Reckless Driving and Driving Under the Influence

According to Virginia Code § 18.2-266, driving while intoxicated or while under the influence of narcotics is prosecuted as a class 1 misdemeanor. Those who are convicted for the first time face a one-year sentence in jail, fines that amount to $2,500, and a year's suspension of their driving license. Repeat offenders face much longer suspensions.

Drivers found with a BAC level that is significantly higher than 0.08 and those who had children in the car during the arrest face the risk of serving lengthier minimum jail terms.

Reckless driving falls under the category of serious traffic violations (§ 46.2-852-865) that could also carry similar class 1 misdemeanor consequences as DUI (a maximum of one year behind bars as well as a fine amounting to $2,500). Any conviction for reckless driving carries a license suspension of up to six months.

Assaults/Crimes That Cause Bodily Harm

Assault prosecuted as a misdemeanor (§ 18.2-57) could be charged for anything from a simple physical altercation - for example, a push or a mere threat - to murder charges. The majority of assaults that cause injuries to the victims have the potential to be prosecuted as felonies.

The use of weapons in criminal acts whereby the victim sustains major injuries or in which the perpetrator intended to inflict on their victim death or irreversible injury are all considered to be serious felonies, that are punishable with lengthy prison terms and hefty penalties. This is under Virginia Code §18.2-51 to 51.2.

A penalty for an assault prosecuted as a class 1 misdemeanor could lead to up to one year in incarceration as well as fines amounting to $2,500, depending on the severity of the assault. Several other factors could result in increased penalties for assault charges. These factors include:

  • Hate crimes are classified as class 6 felonies (Code of Virginia § 18.2-57(ii)).
  • When the plaintiff is a protected state employee (such as a law enforcement officer, judge, or emergency medical technician, under § 18.2-57(iii).

According to the definition provided by Virginia state laws, domestic violence can be prosecuted when the plaintiff was assaulted by someone regarded as a member of the family or household. (Code of Virginia Section 16.1-228).

Domestic violence offenses are typically committed against or by partners, ex-partners,  parents, children, siblings, or individuals who have a child together. In addition, a person is considered a member of the same household if they had shared the same residence within the past year of the purported assault.

According to Sections 18.2-57.2 and 18.2-57.3, the punishments could be more serious than those for several other types of assault charges. According to § 16.1-253.2, violating protective orders imposed following domestic abuse is perpetrated is a serious crime that frequently results in incarceration.

Theft/criminal acts involving the property.

Theft crimes can either be charged as felonies or as misdemeanor charges, based on the stolen property's value and the specifics of the offense. A misdemeanor occurs when the value is less than $200; a felony occurs when the value exceeds $200.

These offenses carry drastically varying sentences. According to § 18.2-11, petit larceny is considered a class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a possible jail term of up to one year and fines of up to two thousand five hundred dollars.

However, felony grand theft has a maximum jail term of 20 years (Section 18.2-95), based on the specifics of the matter, the nature of the theft, and whether or not any further felony charges were filed.

Theft charges include, but aren't limited to:

  • Carjacking (Code of Virginia § 18.2-58.1).
  • Shoplifting (Code of Virginia § 18.2-103).
  • Robbery (Code of Virginia § 18.2-58 ).
  • Burglary (Code of Virginia § 18.2-89).
  • Sections 18.2-98 and 18.2-111 address embezzlement and white-collar theft.

Virginia also mandates that anybody found guilty of any form of theft compensate their victims for the losses. Victims of theft often have the right to file civil lawsuits against those found guilty of taking their property or money.

Drug Crimes

According to §18.2-250 and 18.2-251.1, defendants face different punishments depending on the sort of prohibited substance or marijuana they had, as well as the quantity of the substances.

Virginia divides narcotics into six "schedules" based on their medicinal potential and tendency to induce addiction, and these categories are used to determine punishments. The lower the number of the schedule, the more severe the penalty.

The Commonwealth of Virginia must present sufficient proof to establish that the substances you possessed were either intended for individual use or that you intended to distribute or sell them. Sentences for possession to sell or distribute (under § 18.2-248) are substantially harsher than those for possession for individual use.

White-Collar Crimes and Fraud

Thefts by check are a common form of fraud (§ 18.2-181). However, according to Section 18.2-172, it is considered a class 5 felony to forge another person's signature on a check.

White-collar crimes like identity theft (§ 18.2-186.3), as well as computer-related fraud (§ 18.2-172), are both currently on the rise, and the punishments vary based on how much was taken and the level of damage inflicted on the victim(s).

Many types of deception and fraud offenses are considered federal crimes. Individuals suspected of committing the following federal offenses are subject to aggressive federal pursuit:

  • Tax fraud (Title 26 of the United States Code 7201).
  • Health Care Fraud (under Title 18 of the United States Code § 1347).
  • Securities Fraud (Title 18 U.S.C §1348).
  • Bankruptcy Fraud (Under the U.S.C Title 18 § 157).
  • Identity Theft (under Title18 U.S.C. § 1028).

Sex Crimes

Based on the setting, sex crimes, particularly those committed against minors, can be vigorously pursued as either federal or state crimes. In Virginia, sex offense convictions can carry especially harsh penalties. Some common charges for sex crimes are:

  • Attempted Rape (§ 18.2-67.5).
  • Rape (§ 18.2-61).
  • Sexual penetration using an object (§ 18.2-67.2).

Under § 18.2-63, having sexual contact with a minor aged thirteen or above but younger than fifteen is a crime that is equivalent to statutory rape in other jurisdictions.

Possession, distribution, and production of child pornography is prohibited (§ 18.2-374.1). This law also allows for the prosecution of "sexting" crimes, even when they are committed by children (below 18).

Federal penalties for child pornography are significantly harsher than those imposed by the Commonwealth (18 USC § 2252i). Sex crime victims have the right to sue their perpetrators in civil court for damages under federal law, and anyone convicted of a sex offense should file as a sexual offender.

Charges for Using and Possessing Weapons

Most Commonwealth weapons offenses include unauthorized public possession of firearms, often handguns, under USC § 18.2-308, § 308.2, and § 308.1, respectively. Other crimes involving state weapons include:

  • Unlawful firearm discharge within or near a residential area under USC § 18.2-279.
  • Possession of a firearm in a prohibited location (such as courthouses, churches, and airports: USC § 18.2-287.01, USC § 18.2-283, and USC § 18.2-283 .1.
  • Possession of illegal weapons or ammunition under USC § 18.2-288, USC § 18.2-298, and USC § 18.2-308.3.
  • Gun possession when committing felonies or crimes related to drugs under USC § 18.2–308.4.

Federal firearms charges can also extend to some crimes under 18 USC § 926i, particularly if they happen in conjunction with other federal offenses. Federal charges involving the use of weapons can result in substantially harsher prison terms and hefty fines than state penalties.

Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony Charges

The distinction between a misdemeanor and a felony crime is similar to the differences throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. In accordance with how the State's Code is structured, some types of offenses are classified as felonies and others as misdemeanors.

Prosecutors handle felonies significantly differently than they do misdemeanors. Not only is there a separate judicial proceeding to address a felony charge, but there also are different penalties for felonies, including non-violent felonies.

Misdemeanors can lead to no more than $2,500 in fines and not more than 12 months imprisonment. On the other hand, felony charges always attract a greater degree of punishment. Speaking with a criminal lawyer is crucial since felonies can result in life imprisonment and hefty fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the specific charges brought against you.

Long-Term Consequences

Although a misdemeanor offense is considered less severe than a felony charge, it can have long-term repercussions, especially if the person convicted has a security clearance. According to the policies of a specific employer or department of government, the person could be required to share this information in such circumstances, which would undoubtedly impact their profession.

Nonetheless, if someone is convicted of a felony, they would lose several constitutional rights, including the right to possess a firearm or vote. Additionally, having a felony conviction significantly restricts your ability to borrow money, find housing, and apply for jobs. With these repercussions in mind, it's usually in the defendant's best interests to speak with a Lorton criminal attorney who can help both in putting together a solid defense and limiting any damages brought on.

How Innocent People Can Be Implicated

Innocent individuals could get involved in these kinds of incidents by associating with individuals who are breaking the law or engaging in unnecessary risks. Other times, police officers could have made a mistake.

This can be a case of mistaken identity, misinterpreting facts, or an error of the law for a person to be innocent of an offense like shoplifting or petty theft. The retailer or police officer can improperly judge a person's actions in light of the law. Common errors and reckless oversights frequently result in false criminal charges against innocent people.

Putting Together a Defense

A criminal attorney's main objective is to help the defendant avoid being found guilty to lessen the severity of any subsequent punishments. Criminal defense attorneys collaborate closely with offenders to develop the most robust defense plan. Without making assumptions, they thoroughly analyze the case's details and use the findings to support the accused's legal defenses.

A Lorton criminal defense attorney will fight to uphold their client's legal rights throughout the criminal procedure. The burden of proof for the prosecutor to establish a specific crime's commission is substantial, and everyone is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. A criminal defense attorney will ensure that the prosecution violates neither this right nor any other.

3 Things You Should Know If You've Been Charged

First, everybody should know that the Commonwealth of Virginia treats all criminal violations very seriously. The state has harsh punishments for crimes that aren't as significant as other neighboring states. These include DUI, possessing marijuana or other illegal drugs, and even high-speed reckless driving charges.

The second thing to note is that it's never wise to just show up in court and explain your version of events. Judges are prepared and eager to inflict severe punishments even for those who show up with their lawyers. You should engage with an expert attorney who can offer your legal defense with a possible, solid plan.

Third, make use of your legal rights. Remember that you have the right to silence and the right to dispute the evidence. Even in straightforward instances, an experienced lawyer often finds a fault that could result in a significantly better outcome. It is essential that you know and protect your rights.

How a Lorton Criminal Lawyer Can Assist You

Defendants have the right to all of the rights incorporated into the justice process. This means that the US Constitution protects you from being forced to testify against yourself, from unlawful searches, and from being convicted without a fair trial. Since most criminal violations are state offenses, the Virginia criminal code explains precisely what the prosecution needs to prove for you to be convicted of a crime.

Unless the prosecution can successfully establish the burden of proving all elements of the crime beyond any reasonable doubt, you will be declared not guilty and released with no consequences or a criminal record. A criminal lawyer's task is to safeguard your constitutional rights and increase your odds of getting the best possible result as the case goes through the judicial system.

In some cases, your lawyer could have the charges against you dismissed even before you appear in court. When self-defense is not an option, your attorney can assist in negotiating a plea bargain that leads to a lesser charge or punishment than you'd have otherwise received.  Your attorney has the expertise and background in law needed to support making compelling arguments to the jury.

Find a Lorton Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

If you or someone you care about is accused of a crime in Lorton, the first step you should take to protect your rights is to speak with a seasoned Lorton criminal defense attorney. We at the Virginia Criminal Attorney can work with you to develop a comprehensive defense strategy tailored to your individual needs. Call us today at 703-718-5533 to speak with one of our attorneys.