Facing criminal charges and navigating the legal proceedings can be daunting. However, understanding your legal rights and what to expect can make the process easier. A guilty verdict can change your life for the worse. Most people facing criminal charges make unintentional mistakes, with the most common mistake being waiting too long before seeking legal representation. Upon facing criminal charges, your first step should be to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you need a reliable Prince William criminal attorney, contact the Virginia Criminal Attorney. Our skilled attorneys can help you create a convincing defense for your charges.

Criminal Offenses Under Virginia Law

Under Virginia law, criminal offenses fall under two main categories: misdemeanors and felonies. The potential consequences following conviction include jail time, probation, fines, and paying restitution to the victim. The common criminal offenses under Virginia law include:

Robbery Under Virginia Code 18.2-58

Robbery is a common theft offense under Virginia law. According to Virginia Code 18.2-58, robbery is the act of taking property or an item that does not belong to you. You could do so by using intimidation or force and intending to permanently deprive the owner of their property. Sometimes, the perpetrator can commit robbery by suffocating, strangling, or using a deadly weapon against the victim.

If the prosecutor accuses you of robbery, he/she must prove the following elements:

  • You took property.
  • The property belonged to someone else.
  • You took the property from the victim’s possession using violence or force.
  • You took the property against the owner’s will.

A violation of Virginia Code 18.2-58 is usually charged as a felony. You could face a jail term that does not exceed five years if you are guilty of this crime. However, the judge will consider several factors before charging with a felony. For example, you could face felony charges if you used a gun or the victim suffered severe injuries or died during the incident. You could face life imprisonment if you are guilty of street or bank robbery. You could also face a sentence enhancement if you used a gun or the victim suffered injuries.

The defenses you could use to challenge robbery charges include:

  • You have ownership rights over the property.
  • The victim consented.
  • No use of force.
  • You acted under duress.

Burglary Under Virginia Code 18.2-89 i

You could face burglary charges under Virginia Code 18.2-89 if you break into someone else's dwelling at night to commit a felony or theft. You could also face burglary charges under 18.2-90 if you enter a dwelling at night without breaking. You could also be guilty under this law if you break into or enter a dwelling during the day and conceal yourself to commit rape or murder.

If the prosecutor accuses you of burglary, he/she must prove the following elements:

  • You forcefully broke into another person’s dwelling.
  • You broke into the dwelling at night.
  • You intended to commit murder, arson, rape, robbery, or any other crime.

You will face penalties depending on whether you are convicted of common law or statutory burglary. Under statutory burglary, you will face charges depending on your intentions. Common law burglary can attract a jail term of five to 20 years and a fine of $100,000.

Statutory burglary to commit rape or murder could attract a jail term of five to 20 years in prison and a fine of $100,000.

The defenses you could present against burglary charges include:

  • Actual innocence.
  • Permission to enter.
  • Mistaken identity.
  • Lack of intent.

Manslaughter Under VA 18.2-35 Or VA 18.2-36.1

Manslaughter is among the crimes that are harshly punished because it involves killing another person. The crime is defined in Virginia as the unlawful killing of another person without malice. You must have acted intentionally for the crime of manslaughter to suffice. You could face voluntary manslaughter charges if you shot dead your spouse and another person having an affair with them. Involuntary manslaughter charges can also arise if you kill another person accidentally.

You will face manslaughter penalties depending on whether you are charged with voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. According to VA 18.2-35, voluntary manslaughter charges can attract a jail term of one to ten years and a fine of $2,500. Sometimes, the judge could be lenient and sentence you to only one year in a county jail.

According to VA 18.2-36.1, you could face a jail term of up to ten years in a state prison if you are convicted of involuntary manslaughter. You could also face a fine that does not exceed $2500.

You can use the following defenses to contest your manslaughter charges:

  • You were intoxicated.
  • Insufficient evidence.
  • The killing was accidental.
  • Mental health illness or insanity.
  • You were defending yourself or others.

Murder Under Code Of Virginia § 18.2-32, 18.2-33

Murder is charged by degree, such as first-degree or second-degree. According to Virginia law, first-degree murder is also known as aggravated murder. First-degree murder is deliberate, willful, and premeditated killing. It involves:

  • Killing another person while committing robbery.
  • Killing another person during a drug deal.
  • Killing more than one person in the same violent act.

First-degree murder charges could attract a jail term of 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Second-degree murder is regarded as an act of malice. It could result from gross criminal negligence or sudden acts of passion, and it can be intentional. This offense is an unclassified felony. You could face a jail term of five to 40 years and a fine of $100,000.

Your Prince William criminal attorney can present the following defenses to fight your charges:

  • Insanity.
  • Self-defense or defense of others.
  • You are not the killer.

Arson Offenses

Arson is the willful or malicious burning of property. Several forms of arson exist, each with its penalty.

  1. Burning Or Destroying A Dwelling House

It is a crime under VA 18.2-77 for you to:

  • Aid, counsel, or procure the burning or destruction of a dwelling house.
  • Burn or use explosive devices to destroy a dwelling house.

This offense is usually charged as a felony. If you are guilty of this crime, you could face five years of life imprisonment and a fine of $100,000. If the building was unoccupied at the time of burning, you could face two to ten years of jail term and a fine of $100,000.

  1. Burning Or Destroying A Meeting House

It is a crime under VA 18.2-79 to:

  • Counsel, aid, or procure the destruction or burning of a meeting house.
  • Maliciously burn or use an explosive device to maliciously destroy a meeting house.

If you burn a meeting house while someone is inside the building, you could face a five- to 20-year jail term and a fine of $100,000. If no one was in the building at the time of the burning, you could face a two- to ten-year jail term and a fine of $100,000.

The defenses you could present to challenge your arson charges include:

  • Mistaken identity.
  • You did not commit arson.

Rape Under VA 18.2-61

Rape is defined under VA 18.2-61 as the act of having non-consensual sexual intercourse with someone else, regardless of whether you are married to them or not. You could be guilty under this law if:

  • You used force, intimidation, or threats against the victim.
  • The victim was below 13 years old.
  • The victim was mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.

If the prosecutor accuses you of rape, he/she must prove the following elements:

  • You had sex with someone else or caused someone else to have sexual intercourse.
  • Your actions were against the victim’s will.
  • The victim was below 13 years.
  • You used force, threats, or violence against the victim.

You could face a jail term of five years to life if you are convicted of rape. Your jail term could be increased if you rape a minor under the age of 13 and are three years older than the minor. In this case, you could face a jail term of 25 years. An adult could also serve a jail term of 25 years if he/she commits the act against a minor under the age of 13.

Your Prince William criminal attorney presents the following defenses against rape charges:

  • The victim consented.
  • Mistaken identity.
  • You were coerced to confess.

Assault And Battery Under VA 18.2-57

According to VA 18.2-57, assault and battery have different legal notions with definite elements. Assault is a deliberate, harmful, or offensive act that could cause reasonable fear or anxiety about an expected injury. It involves intimidation by non-physical acts, which cause fear in someone else. You could face assault charges if you intentionally act in a way that puts someone else in reasonable fear of harm.

You could face battery charges if you deliberately contact someone else physically in an offensive or harmful manner without their permission, justification, or legal basis. Battery could also involve touching someone else with an object or setting the object in motion.

If the prosecutor accuses you of assault or battery, he/she must prove the following elements:

  • You acted deliberately to create fear or danger.
  • The victim reasonably believed that your actions would cause harm to them.
  • The physical contact was deliberate, offensive, or harmful, and the victim gave no permission.

You could be charged with assault and battery as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the seriousness of the crime and the facts of your case. Simple assault and battery charges could attract a jail term of one year and a fine of $2,500. Battery against a household or family member could attract a jail term of one year and a fine of $2,500.

You could present the following defenses against assault and battery charges:

  • Accord and satisfaction.
  • The victim consented to the act.
  • Self-defense or defense of others.

What You Should Do When Arrested For A Crime In Prince William

It is essential to understand what to do if arrested for a crime. The actions you take could make a difference in your case's outcome. The following are some of the steps you should take:

Be Polite To The Police

You should be polite and cooperative throughout your arrest and when speaking to law enforcement. Being rude or obnoxious will only make things worse, which could negatively impact the outcome of your case. Ensure that law enforcement sees your hands throughout. This would assure them that they are safe. It can be overwhelming to have the police arrive at your workplace or house. You should keep as calm as possible to avoid making decisions you will regret later.

Write Down What Happened

Write down everything you can recall about your arrest or interaction with the police as soon as possible. For example, if they read Miranda's rights to you after arresting you, the details could assist you and your Prince William criminal attorney in creating a strong defense strategy.

Notify Law Enforcement If You Are Armed With a Gun

If you possess a gun, inform law enforcement immediately that you have concealed a gun nearby. Failing to notify law enforcement could confuse and even lead to additional criminal charges. Move slowly if needed, and inform the police what you are doing. Sudden movements could alarm law enforcement and result in them misunderstanding what you are doing or using force.

Reach Out To Your Prince William Criminal Attorney

You should hire a criminal defense attorney immediately after you are arrested for a crime. Your attorney will advise you of your legal rights and deal directly with law enforcement on your behalf. A skilled attorney understands the law and knows how to navigate the legal system. Do not discuss your arrest with anyone in jail if the police take you to a police station and put you in jail. You should only discuss your arrest with your attorney.

Provide Only The Basic Information

Provide the information, such as your name and address, to law enforcement if they ask you. Provide documentation like a concealed carry permit for your gun or driver's license. Keep your statements short throughout your interactions with law enforcement. Do not say anything to law enforcement unless they ask you. Anything you say could be used against you in court. Follow the police officer's instructions word for word, and do whatever he/she tells you to do during your arrest.

The Benefits Of Hiring A Prince William Criminal Defense Attorney

The first thing you should do following an arrest is to hire a reliable Prince William criminal attorney. The following are the benefits of hiring a professional defense attorney:

Understand the Local Laws And Court Systems

Every state has its legal system and distinct set of laws. This is why you need to hire an expert in criminal cases. The expert understands the local court system and has experience fighting cases in your region. Fighting criminal charges is a life-altering event. You should hire a competent attorney to obtain the best outcome. Securing the services of an experienced attorney will increase the possibility of winning your case.

Examine Evidence Better

A competent criminal defense attorney will protect you from tampered or unlawfully gathered evidence. He/she will also point out weaknesses in the witness testimony or call out witnesses who have altered the truth.

Handle The Case On Your Behalf

The attorney could serve as your spokesperson and handle all the prosecution and the discussions with the police. Your attorney will do what is best for you and your case by maintaining calmness and saying the right things since discussions are sometimes heated. A good rapport between your attorney and the prosecution ensures the negotiations are handled professionally.

The Attorney Will Give You Personalized Attention

It can be stressful to be charged with a criminal offense. You may feel like things are not working, but your attorney will always be there to support you throughout the case.

Factors To Consider When Hiring A Prince William Criminal Attorney

There is a lot at stake when facing criminal charges. You should hire an attorney who will help you navigate the legal proceedings. There are many attorneys to choose from; you should consider the following when hiring an attorney:

Experience And Expertise

You should choose an attorney with experience handling cases similar to yours. The attorney you choose should have years of practice in criminal law and be able to gather evidence of successful outcomes.

Resources And Support

A reasonable attorney should have access to resources like experts, paralegals, investigators, and other support staff that can assist them in developing a solid defense. Their support staff should be able to handle administrative duties like filing documents and paperwork with the court.

Fee Structure And Affordability

Hiring an attorney can be costly. An experienced attorney will likely be more expensive than a less experienced attorney, but the additional cost is worth it. You should understand the fee structure of each attorney before deciding on the one to work with. Compare fees with other attorneys in your region if possible.

Find a Reliable Prince William Criminal Attorney Near Me

It is expected to feel frightened and overwhelmed when facing criminal charges. It is crucial to remember that the law presumes you are innocent until proven guilty. Hiring an experienced Prince William criminal attorney can enhance a positive outcome for your case. For legal representation, you can contact the Virginia Criminal Attorney. Call us at 703-718-5533 to speak to one of our attorneys.