An arrest for committing a crime is a traumatizing experience. After your arrest, the law enforcement officers will book you into a jail cell. Law enforcement officers are aggressive when investigating criminal cases, while prosecutors will file and pursue criminal charges against you.
In Virginia, crimes attract felony or misdemeanor charges depending on their severity and the circumstances surrounding your actions. The stakes are high for defendants facing criminal charges in Virginia. If you are convicted of an offense, you will face incarceration, fines, and probation. Additionally, the conviction can have severe collateral consequences in your life.
Legal guidance is critical as you navigate the complicated Virginia criminal law. Your choice of legal representation could make the difference between spending a lifetime behind bars and walking out of the courtroom with a dismissed case. At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we have the legal knowledge and experience you need to navigate your case and secure a favorable outcome. We serve clients battling criminal charges in Merrifield, VA.
Virginia law is stringent for defendants facing sex crime charges. Therefore, your conviction will jeopardize your freedom and impact your life forever.
While most sex crimes involve contact, some offenses, like indecent exposure, do not require evidence of contact with a victim. Common sex crimes with which you could be charged in Virginia include:
Under Virginia Code 18.2-61, rape involves non-consensual sexual intercourse accomplished through fear, force, or violence. Rape can be charged in different ways. The nature of the charges depends on the circumstances under which the offense occurred.
A child’s inability to comprehend the nature of a sexual act makes sexual contact with them criminal. Therefore, you will be arrested and charged with rape for engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor.
Sexual intercourse with a child is considered statutory rape under Virginia Code 18.2-61. When you face charges for statutory rape, the age difference between you and the child will play a significant role in the sentencing.
You will be charged with sodomy under Virginia Code 18.2-67.1 for engaging in the following sexual acts with another person against their will:
- Sexual stimulation of the anus with the lips or tongue.
- Anal intercourse.
- Oral stimulation of the penis.
In addition to proving the acts with which you engaged, the prosecutors must prove the following factors to secure a conviction for forcible sodomy:
- The victim of your acts was a child under thirteen years old.
- You used force, fear, or threats against the alleged victim.
- You engaged in the acts with a mentally or physically incapacitated individual.
Forcible sodomy is a felony whose conviction will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. Your prison sentence will increase substantially if you committed the crime as part of a kidnapping, burglary, or other violent crime.
Sexual battery is a non-consensual sexual interaction with another person that does not involve penetration. Under VA Code 18.2-67.4, sexual battery is a class 1 misdemeanor. The court will sentence you to twelve months in jail for this offense. For a first sexual battery offense, the court can sentence you to probation instead of incarceration.
However, the sentence will increase when you are a repeat offender. Other factors that could increase the severity of your sentence under this statute include:
- The age of the alleged victim.
- The difference in age between you and the victim.
- Frequency of contact between you and the alleged victim.
Taking Indecent Liberties with a Child
Virginia law is aggressive when prosecuting sex crimes involving minors. Under Virginia Code 18.2-370, you can be charged with indecent liberties for engaging in the following acts with a child under fifteen:
- You expose your genitals to the child to whom you are not married at the time of the act.
- You propose that the child fondle your genitals or sexual organs.
- You fondle the child’s sexual organs.
- You propose that the child engages in sexual intercourse, oral sex, or anal intercourse.
- You lure or entice the child to enter a secluded area to engage in a sexual act.
- You receive money for enticing a child to engage in sexual acts or be subjected to explicit sexual materials.
A Virginia Code 18.2-370 violation is a class 4 felony punishable by a prison sentence of up to fifteen years.
You can be charged with indecent exposure under Virginia Code 18.2-387 for intentionally displaying your genitals in a public place. The prosecuting attorney must prove that at the time of the act, other people were in the area, and your conduct could offend them.
Another factor that must be clear when proving your guilt under this statute is your motivation to expose your genitals. Acts like breastfeeding or urinating in a public place will not suffice under this statute. A conviction for obscene sexual display is punishable by a jail sentence of one year.
A sex crime conviction can have lasting effects on your life. Hiring a skilled Merrifield criminal lawyer to guide you through a defense is critical.
Domestic Violence Crimes
Under Virginia domestic violence laws, it is an offense to injure, attempt to harm, or threaten a family member. You commit a domestic violence crime by committing acts of violence against these individuals:
- Current or former spouse.
- In-laws living in the same house as you.
- Your parents, children, and grandchildren.
- The other parent of your child.
- Individuals with whom you have lived for a year or more.
Domestic violence crimes addressed under Virginia law include:
Assault and Battery on a Household Member
Assault and battery involve the following acts:
- Unlawful touching of a family member in a way that could offend the person.
- Engaging in acts intended to inflict fear on the victim.
Evidence of physical injury will not be necessary to obtain a conviction when you face charges of assault and battery on a family member. Assault or battery on a family member attracts misdemeanor charges. After a conviction, you will be sent to jail for up to one year. You could face a prison sentence of up to five years if the victim suffered severe bodily injury from your acts.
Child abuse charges arise when you engage in an act that causes harm to a minor. Under Virginia law, a minor is any individual under the age of eighteen. A defendant facing child abuse charges could be looking for severe legal consequences. Law enforcement officers are quick to respond to incidents of child abuse and make arrests.
When the prosecution files criminal charges, and your case goes to trial, the jury may lean more towards the victim to ensure their protection. Therefore, they will be aggressive to secure a conviction. Child abuse can be charged as a class four or six felony. The prosecution will base the charges on the severity of the injury to the child. You will need a knowledgeable Merrifield criminal lawyer if you face child abuse charges.
Virginia has strict laws on the state's possession and use of firearms. A firearm is any instrument designed to expel a projectile through an explosion. Firearms are considered deadly weapons that could produce significant bodily injury or death when misused.
A firearm offense could be independent or as an enhancement for using a firearm to commit another crime. You could be arrested and charged with the following firearm offenses under Virginia Law:
Carrying a Concealed Firearm
You could face an arrest and criminal charges under VA Code 18.2-308 for carrying a concealed firearm. The prosecution will establish your guilt under this statute by proving the following elements:
- You carried a firearm. Some firearms that are restricted under Virginia law include handguns, assault firearms, plastic firearms, shotguns, and spring guns.
- The weapon was concealed. A firearm is concealed if it is unseen or disguised in something else.
The nature of your charges and punishment for carrying concealed firearms depends on your criminal history. A first offense under this statute is a class I misdemeanor. For a second and third offense, the prosecution will file charges for a class five or six felony. You will need expert legal guidance if you face charges for carrying a concealed firearm in Virginia.
Possession of a Firearm by a Felon
You cannot possess or transport a firearm if you have a felony conviction in Virginia. You will be charged with ‘felon in possession of a firearm if you fall under the following categories and are arrested in possession of or while transporting a firearm:
- You committed murder, abduction, or rape as a minor.
- You are under twenty-nine years old and have a sustained juvenile petition for a felony on your record.
- You have a conviction for misdemeanor domestic assault on your record.
Possessing or transporting a firearm as a convicted felon is a severe crime charged under Virginia Code 18.2-308. A conviction for the offense will see you spend up to five years in prison.
Firearm Display During the Commission of a Felony
Displaying a firearm during a felony commission will attract an arrest and criminal charges under VA Code 18.2-53.1. Mostly, you will be charged with this offense alongside the crime you intended to commit. The Commonwealth must prove the following factors to secure a conviction under this statute:
- You attempted to use or used a firearm to commit a crime.
- The offense was a serious felony like murder, forcible sodomy, or rape.
- You displayed the firearm.
You will face three to five years in prison for violating VA Code 18.2-53.1. Your sentence for this offense will run concurrently with the penalties you face for the underlying felony.
Brandishing a Firearm
Virginia law makes it a crime to hold or point a firearm or weapon in another person’s presence. You will be charged with this offense if your acts create a reasonable fear of injury or death in another person. The elements that the commonwealth must prove to establish your liability under Virginia Code 18.2-282 include the following:
- You held or pointed a weapon in a public place.
- You pointed the firearm or weapon in a way that could cause reasonable fear for other people.
Brandishing a weapon can be charged as a misdemeanor or a class 6 felony. The crime is punishable by a maximum of one year in jail. Displaying a weapon on school grounds or private property will attract a felony charge and a punishment of up to five years behind bars.
Virginia law stipulates the basic requirements of vehicle operations and rules that all drivers must follow to ensure the safety of all road users. You could be arrested and charged for engaging in the following criminal acts:
Driving Without a License
Every driver in Virginia must have a license to operate a vehicle. Additionally, you must carry evidence of your license each time you drive. You could be arrested and charged under Virginia Code 46.2-303 for driving without a license in the state. Even for first-time offenders, driving without a license could have serious negative consequences for your life.
A conviction for driving without a license will land you in jail. In addition to incarceration, your driver’s license will be suspended for driving without a license.
Driving While Intoxicated
Virginia law prohibits drivers from operating vehicles under the following circumstances:
- While under drug or alcohol influence. A driver is considered under the influence if their conduct is impacted by alcohol or drug use.
- Driving with a BAC of 0.08% or more.
- Driving with a substantial drug concentration in the blood.
The commonwealth will use the following elements to prove that you operated the vehicle while under the influence:
- You drove a car. In Virginia, the car does not need to be in motion for you to be arrested for DWI. Sitting in the driver's seat with the keys in the ignition proves that you were driving.
- Your BAC exceeded the legal limit. Law enforcement officers will administer a breathalyzer test to check your BAC if your vehicle is stopped for suspected drunk driving. After an arrest, the results may be confirmed with a blood test. If the test results indicate that you exceeded the 0.08% limit, you will be charged with DWI.
A conviction for drunk driving in Merrifield, VA, will attract a jail sentence of up to one year and substantial fines. Additionally, the court will impose a driver’s license suspension.
Driving with a Suspended License
You could face a driver’s license suspension in Virginia for the following reasons:
- Failure to pay fines for a traffic ticket.
- You face a conviction for reckless driving.
- You have many points on your license for traffic violations.
- Failure to maintain vehicle insurance.
- A conviction for driving while intoxicated.
- Committing a felony using a motor vehicle.
- Driving away after an accident without providing your information.
If your license is suspended, you must wait for the suspension period to elapse before operating a vehicle. Failure to do this could result in an arrest and criminal charges under VA Code 46.2-301. The penalties you face after a conviction for driving on a suspended license include:
- Jail time.
- Further suspension of your driver's license. The license suspension for this offense will begin immediately after the previous suspension period elapses.
Virginia law has zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. The legal age for alcohol consumption is 21 unless under parent or guardian supervision. A person under the age of eighteen will be arrested and charged under Virginia Code 18.2-266.1 for:
- Driving while impaired.
- Operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.02% or more.
Like adults, underage drivers must submit to a breathalyzer and blood test during an arrest and investigation for DWI. A conviction for underage DUI is punishable by:
- A one-year driver’s license suspension.
- A $2500 fine.
- A jail sentence of up to one year.
- Community service.
- Drug abuse counseling.
Find a Competent Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me
Law enforcement officers will arrest you in Virginia when they have probable cause to believe you committed a crime. Crimes under Virginia law range from simple misdemeanors to violent felonies. The prosecution files criminal charges against you after your arrest.
You can battle your case in court, plead guilty to the crime, or enter a plea deal with the prosecution for your case. A felony or misdemeanor conviction has serious legal consequences. The punishment will include incarceration, fines, and probation. After serving your sentence and paying your fines, the conviction will enter your record, where it can be accessible to all individuals who perform background checks on you.
The record can seriously affect your life, even when your arrest does not result in a conviction. Individuals with criminal convictions find it challenging to obtain and retain employment. Additionally, you could lose your professional license and suffer social stigma.
If you or a loved one faces criminal charges in Merrifield, VA, you will benefit from our expert legal insight at Virginia Criminal Attorney. Call us today at 703-718-5533 to discuss your case.