One simple mistake can put you in trouble with the law. You could end up with felony or misdemeanor charges for offenses like DUI, assault, theft crimes, drug crimes, or violent offenses, whose convictions have life-changing repercussions. Your rights and freedom are at risk the moment you are apprehended. A minor violation can result in a sentence that attracts incarceration, massive fines, and a criminal record available to the public, making it difficult to find employment opportunities.

An arrest and subsequent criminal charge will even be more devastating if you are a first-time offender because you are unfamiliar with the laws and court processes. If you find yourself in these circumstances in McLean, you should see an experienced criminal attorney to help you fight the allegations. We understand how devastating arrests and convictions are at Virginia Criminal Attorney, so we are available to offer legal guidance and representation. Our legal experts will educate you on your rights and contest criminal charges for a charge reduction, dismissal, or favorable outcome.

Virginia Criminal Statutes

The prosecutor can file several criminal charges against you in McLean, Virginia. You can face less severe offenses outlined under Virginia Code Sec. 46.2-852, like reckless driving, or more severe felonies like rape under Code Sec. 18.1-61.

Formal charges are filed once investigating officers bring convincing evidence before a prosecutor. Talk to an experienced defense attorney immediately after you learn of the criminal charges to understand possible penalties and court fines, viable defense strategies, and the critical elements of the case the prosecutor must demonstrate.

When you understand the law that applies to the charges you face, you can craft robust defenses for a positive outcome. However, you must partner with a McLean criminal defense attorney to streamline the court process.

Title 18.2 outlines common crimes you can face in McLean and their penalties. These crimes are further discussed below.

Sex Crimes

Any sexual conduct committed against an individual legally unable to give consent or does not agree to a sexual act amounts to a sex crime. A victim is deemed to be legally incapable of consenting to sexual acts if they are below the legal age, mentally or physically incapacitated. A sentence for these crimes attracts harsh penalties, including long incarcerations, hefty fines, and sex registration obligations. The prevalent sex offenses in McLean are:

  1. Rape

Code 18.2-61 of Virginia statutes defines rape as nonconsensual sexual penetration or intercourse with an adult attained through fear, intimidation, force, threats, or violence. The crime is a felony that attracts severe penalties. The prosecutor relies on witness testimonies, forensic proof, defensive injuries, and physical evidence to prove the defendant committed the alleged crime. Sexual penetration is the central aspect the prosecutor must demonstrate.

If convicted, you risk at least five years in prison, with a possible sentence enhancement to twenty years when the alleged victim is a juvenile of thirteen or younger. When the victim is a spouse, the judge can impose a deferred entry judgment by imposing formal probation. If you complete the program, the court formally drops the rape charges.

  1. Statutory Rape

Any sexual intercourse involving an underage person or someone below the legal consent age, even if non-forcible, amounts to statutory rape. The law deems underage persons unable to give consent. Therefore, even if the minor agrees to the act, you will still face statutory rape charges.

  1. Sexual Battery

Code 18.1-67.4 defines sexual battery as the slightest application of force or threats to accomplish sexual abuse. A simple act, like little touching of one's genitals, amounts to sexual battery. The offense is a misdemeanor that attracts twelve months in jail and no more than $2,500 in court fines. Nevertheless, the crime is a felony if the alleged victim committed it in a facility.

  1. Indecent Liberties Against an Underage 

The right or privilege to engage in a particular act is liberty. You will be deemed to have taken indecent liberties with a juvenile under Code 18.2-370 if:

  • You uncover your intimate parts in the presence of a child.
  • You request or force a minor to expose their private parts.
  • You rub a minor’s intimate parts.
  • You request that a child perform a sexual act on you.

The crime is a Level 3 felony that attracts $2,500 in monetary court fines and, at most, 120 months in prison. It is charged as a level 4 felony for repeat offenders, and the penalties are stricter.

  1. Sexual Penetration Using an Object

According to Code 18.2-67.2, it is a crime to penetrate someone else’s vagina or anus using a foreign object. You risk conviction if the prosecutor can show your victim was younger than thirteen, you lacked consent, and the victim was legally unable to consent because of their physical or mental incapacitation. The offense is a felony, and a conviction will attract at least 60 months of prison incarceration.

McLean Drug Crimes

VA Code Sections 18.2-250 to 18.2-251.1 criminalize the sale, use, and possession of controlled substances or narcotics. Unfortunately, you can face false accusations and possible wrongful convictions because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you are accused of a drug crime and believe you are innocent, a McLean defense attorney can help you prove your innocence. The typical drug offenses you are likely to face charges for are:

Controlled Substance or Drug Possession

VA Code Sec. 18.2-250 criminalizes the deliberate or willful possession or buying of controlled substances devoid of valid instructions from a physician. Drugs are categorized based on their effects on the user, including prescription drugs and hard narcotics like heroin. Simple drug possession is a misdemeanor with possible penalties upon conviction depending on your criminal history, quantity, and kind of illegal drugs in your possession. The penalties provided for under this Code section are:

  • Prison incarceration for 120 months or a court fine of $2,500 for schedule I or II drug possession.
  • Twelve months of jail incarceration for a misdemeanor schedule III drug possession.
  • No more than six months in jail or $1,000 court fines for a level two misdemeanor conviction.
  • Level V drug possession attracts a court-imposed fine of no more than $500.

You can avoid serving the jail sentence for simple possession by compelling the judge to impose probation instead of incarceration. However, you need an experienced McLean defense attorney to negotiate.

Marijuana or Cannabis Possession With Intent to Sell

Per VA Code 182.2-248.1, it is illegal to furnish, sell, possess, or distribute marijuana for sale. Simple marijuana possession is unlawful but does not result in criminal charges. Nevertheless, possession for sale is a Level 1 misdemeanor that attracts twelve months in jail and monetary court fines of no more than $2,500. Additionally, you risk sentence enhancement if the quantity of cannabis in your possession exceeds 5 lbs.

Drug Paraphernalia Possession

Devices or tools used in producing, packing, or consuming narcotics are called drug paraphernalia. Even without the possession of a controlled substance, having the equipment is a violation of VA Sec. 54.1-3466. These tools include bongs, needles, weighing scales, water pipes, knives, roach clips, and spoons. You should possess these tools only when authorized to handle them or put them up for sale. Without this, an arrest under this section will result in misdemeanor charges punishable by no more than $2,500 in court fines and twelve months of jail incarceration.

Drug Trafficking

The VA drug crimes statute criminalizes illegal drug sales, movement, or importation. Transporting or shipping at least an ounce of cocaine, Schedule I or II drugs, or more than 5 lbs. of cannabis is a felony offense. The crime is unclassified, meaning that it attracts varying penalties.

The prosecutor will secure a sentence for this offense if they prove you moved or shipped drugs for sale. You will face no more than 40 years in prison and a monetary court fine of no more than $1,000,000 when found guilty. For first-time offenders, a McLean criminal attorney can negotiate with the court for a probation sentence to reduce the incarceration duration.

White Collar Crimes

Any offense involving a financial scheme, deceit, or fraud is white-collar. These complex cases entail the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even though the crimes do not involve violence, convictions result in harsh penalties. Examples of these offenses are:

  • Money laundering.
  • Embezzlement.
  • Extortion.
  • Identity theft.

If you discover you are being investigated for or an arrest warrant has been issued against you for a white-collar crime, talk to a McLean defense attorney for legal guidance and to protect your rights.

Driving Offenses

Many people violate traffic rules in Virginia; in some instances, the consequences of the violations are devastating. Traffic offenses are classified as misdemeanors or felonies based on the case’s facts.

  1. Misdemeanor Traffic Offense

Traffic violations charged as misdemeanors are:

  • Reckless driving.
  • Operating an automobile on a suspended or revoked driver’s license.
  • Driving a car without a valid driver’s license.
  • First and second drunk or drugged offenses.

A misdemeanor traffic violation is not the same as an infraction. A misdemeanor conviction attracts a jail sentence, court fines, and driving privilege suspension, while a simple traffic violation attracts only a court fine and no incarceration.

Also, a misdemeanor sentence will remain on your criminal history and hurt your career, education, and business opportunities. Therefore, you should take all misdemeanor traffic violation offenses seriously and talk to your McLean criminal attorney for legal representation.

  1. Felony Traffic Offenses

The most severe traffic offenses in Virginia are charged as felonies. These offenses include:

  • Third and subsequent DUI.
  • Vehicular manslaughter.
  • hit-and-run collision causing harm or death.

When the court issues a guilty verdict for a felony sentence, you will face hefty financial court fines, suspension or revocation of driving privileges, and an extended prison sentence.

Violent Crimes

Crimes classified as violent in Virginia include murder, voluntary manslaughter, and kidnapping. Murder is outlined under VA Sec. 18.2-32 as the illegal taking of someone else’s life with malice. You will face 1st-degree murder charges and a possible conviction if the prosecutor can demonstrate that you killed someone while engaging in the commission of a rape, robbery, or arson. The offense differs from capital murder, as capital murder requires intentional acts and premeditation.

Any other illegal killing that does not belong to the first-degree homicide category is second-degree. These are the unlawful deaths that stem from reckless conduct or negligence. Additionally, premeditation or malice aforethought is unnecessary for the prosecutor to secure a conviction.

On the other hand, when you kill someone in the heat of passion or devoid of premeditation or malice, you commit voluntary manslaughter. When charged with this violent crime, your McLean defense attorney can argue that you were acting in self-defense, the killing was accidental, or you are falsely accused.

McLean Misdemeanor vs. Felony Charges

VA crimes are classified as misdemeanors or felonies, with each classification having wrongful conduct that attracts various penalties. The treatment of misdemeanor offenses by prosecutors is different from that of felonies. The judicial proceedings for a felony are separate, and the punishment differs from that of a misdemeanor.

With a misdemeanor, a conviction attracts $2,500 in court fines and, at most, twelve months in jail. Felonies are punishable by, at most, life imprisonment and fines running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It will help to know that even though a misdemeanor is less severe than a felony, a conviction can have devastating consequences in the long run. You will have problems finding employment, hurting your chances of career progression.

Nevertheless, a felony sentence will also severely dent your constitutional rights. You will lose your right to own or use a firearm, lease an apartment, take out a loan, or find a job. Considering these consequences, you should talk to a McLean criminal defense attorney, whether charged with a misdemeanor or felony, to craft the proper defenses to prevent a conviction.

The Responsibilities of Law Enforcement Officers in McLean Criminal Cases

Police officers in McLean and the entire VA are critical to investigating alleged crimes and making arrests. Although officers play essential roles in investigations and apprehensions, it is crucial to understand your rights as a defendant in these times.

Before stopping to frisk you, the officers must have reasonable suspicion that you are committing or about to commit a crime. The stop allows the officers to conduct further investigations and find probable cause to execute an arrest or request that the judge issue an arrest warrant.

Whether the stop and search or apprehension were done following protocols is critical to your McLean criminal case. A knowledgeable criminal attorney will explain your rights and argue that police officers engaged in misconduct during the stop, investigation, or arrest; therefore, the charge should be dismissed.

Your Rights in Police Custody

Once an arresting officer puts you under arrest, they should recite your Miranda rights. One of the most crucial rights allows you to remain silent until your legal representative is present. The police can interrogate you anytime after your arrest, but you have the right not to answer these questions.

Additionally, you have a right to have an attorney present in the interrogation to protect you from making self-incriminating statements that will be used against you in court. Also, the presence of an attorney will provide legal guidance to ensure that the officers do not compel you to confess to a crime.

McLean Trial Process

Your McLean criminal attorney understands the court processes and will walk you through them, explaining your rights and offering court representation for a favorable outcome.

A felony trial is more sophisticated than that of a misdemeanor. The court process involves arraignment for a misdemeanor charge, after which the case proceeds to trial. Nevertheless, a felony trial involves several phases. After the arraignment hearing, the case proceeds to the preliminary stage, where the court evaluates the evidence against you to determine if the case should proceed to trial. All felony charges must have probable cause to continue trial, as the law requires.

Crafting Defense Strategies

The main goal of your criminal attorney is to assist you in avoiding a conviction and obtaining a charge reduction with less stringent penalties. Your attorney will work closely with you to craft effective defense strategies for a favorable outcome. A reputable defense attorney will evaluate the evidence presented by the prosecutor, conduct independent investigations, and identify expert witnesses to testify in your favor.

However, before beginning investigations, the attorney will explain your rights and how you can invoke them. The right criminal attorney will protect your constitutional rights even outside court. And because of the uncertainty surrounding criminal charges, particularly for first-time offenders, the attorney will explain the type of charge you face, its severity, and the possible consequences if the court finds you guilty.

If you want to avoid trial by all means, your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor for you to obtain a fair plea deal. Even when an outside court settlement fails, and the case proceeds to trial, the attorney will craft solid defenses to demonstrate your innocence.

An attorney plays a critical role not only in court but in the process leading to the charges. Therefore, contact your attorney immediately after you are arrested or learn of an impending arrest.

Find the Right Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

When you are accused or arrested for a crime, your freedom is on the line, whether a misdemeanor or felony. Luckily, an arrest does not always translate to a conviction. At the Virginia Criminal Attorney, we encourage you to protect your rights and freedom after apprehensions by speaking to our reputable attorneys in Fairfax, VA, and Northern Virginia at 703-718-5533 for a no-obligation consultation.