Virginia Criminal & DUI Lawyer

Being charged with a criminal offense in Virginia is a challenging and stressful ordeal. You may be facing heavy fines and extensive jail time if convicted. Having a dedicated team on your side can greatly improve your chances for success in fighting the charges and avoiding severe penalties. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the legal process, provide you with solid counsel, and make sure that your rights are protected from beginning to end. Virginia criminal defense attorney Thomas Soldan has litigated a wide array of criminal cases, including DUI charges, throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and has a proven track record for success. If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Leesburg, Virginia, he will fight to protect you from the potential negative consequences that can result from a criminal conviction.

Virginia DUI Lawyer

Given the number of drug and alcohol-related crashes that occur within Virginia every year, it is understandable that authorities in the Commonwealth take drunk driving offenses very seriously. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors will fight hard to try to convict individuals of driving under the influence (DUI), which can have significant negative impacts on a person’s driving privileges as well as their record and finances. Though those who repeatedly violate DUI laws are clearly a problem, many well-meaning citizens have suffered serious DUI charges thanks to faulty Breathalyzer machines, challenging field sobriety tests, and even symptoms of exhaustion or illness that have been misconstrued by police officers as alcohol impairment. Furthermore, a first-offense DUI conviction in Virginia carries potential penalties of up to one year in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, and mandatory alcohol education classes or the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measured above 0.15 percent. A skilled Virginia DUI attorney can help explain your options when facing DUI charges and will fight to mitigate the negative impact that a conviction can have on your professional and personal life and your driver’s license.

Felony Criminal Charges in Virginia

Felonies are the most serious of criminal charges that can be levied by the state. Most crimes that fall within this category in Virginia involve serious physical harm or the threat of such harm, though felony offenses can include so-called white collar crimes – such as conspiracy, perjury or money laundering. Penalties can range from one or two years in prison, to a life and, in the most serious cases, the death penalty. Felony cases can also be divided into class or degree, such as Capital Murder and Murder in the First Degree.

Misdemeanor Criminal Charges

Misdemeanor charges are less egregious than felony charges, yet they can still lead to heavy fines, jail time, and a criminal record in Virginia. Having that mark on your record can cause difficulties for people in the long-term, especially when applying for certain employment opportunities, financial loan applications, or educational programs, not to mention the impact it can have on someone’s personal relationships. Misdemeanors may also result in community service or restitution requirements. Misdemeanors, like felonies, are classified based on the severity of the crime and the classifications determine the level of punishment. Potential penalties frequently include up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.

The benefits of hiring a defense attorney to protect you from the consequences of a felony or misdemeanor are numerous. A well-qualified attorney is your best option for avoiding incarceration through the negotiation of a plea agreement or by crafting a solid defense strategy aimed an acquittal or dismissal of the case. If conviction cannot be avoided, your attorney will work hard to mitigate the damage from any potential penalties that you may face.

Theft Charges

In Virginia, the crime of theft is largely broken down into three primary categories: larceny, robbery, and burglary. Larceny is involves the stealing of something of value without the use of force or violence, while robbery is an offense that involves stealing an item of value through the use of violence or force. Burglary is a combination of acts, namely theft — or attempted theft — and breaking and entering.  Larceny is divided into several classifications, including petit (pronounced petite) and grand larceny, conspiring to commit larceny, and larceny with the intent to sell or distribute. Grand larceny can carry a charge of one to 20 years in prison, though the court may intervene and impose lesser penalties. Petit larceny can result in up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Robbery is a felony offense, due to the violent nature of the crime. If convicted of robbery, you can face anywhere from five years to life in prison.

Assault Defense

Assault is generally defined as the threat or use of force which causes the victim to have a reasonable fear that they will be harmed or suffer what is referred to as “offensive contact.” Assault can be filed as a criminal charge or a civil offense, also known as a tort. The term assault and battery is typically defined as the combination of an assault followed by hurtful or offensive contact. Assault is defined in the Code of Virginia, Title 18.2, Chapter 4, Section 18.2-57. It encompasses numerous categories, including simple assault and simple assault and battery, assaulting an officer, assaulting an educator and assaulting a health care provider. Penalties can range from a few months in jail to a year and up to a $2,500 fine.

Reckless Driving Defense

Drivers on Virginia’s roadways can find themselves charged with reckless driving if they were driving at excessive speeds or driving too fast for road and weather conditions. Driving behavior that can be construed by an officer as the “willful, wanton disregard” for others on the road can result in reckless driving charge. Reckless driving is a criminal offense in Virginia, it qualifies as Class 1 misdemeanor, and as such carries more serious penalties than most other traffic violations. Those convicted may face up to $2,500 in fines and up to one year in jail. If an individual is found guilty of reckless driving without a valid driver’s license – either because the license was suspended or revoked – and that person causes the death of another individual, then the driver faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter – a Class 6 felony – and the possibility of one to five years in prison. Lesser penalties may be levied, however, at the court or jury’s discretion.

Sex Crime Charges

In the broadest sense of the term, a sex crime is considered any sex act that is performed with someone who has not given consent or who is incapable of giving consent, such as the disabled. Sex offenses in Virginia include rape, sodomy, sexual battery, and more. Sex crimes are considered especially heinous offenses by members of the public. Therefore, penalties tend to be extremely harsh and have lasting consequences for those so convicted. Penalties for sex crimes include lengthy prison terms and fines. Many of those convicted of sex crimes also face compliance with the state sex offender registry. Sex offenses that don’t include physical contact, such as unlawful photographing of another, see Section. 18.2-386.1, can also result in sex offender registration. Sex crimes in the commonwealth are separated into two extremely broad categories: sexual offenses and sexually violent offenses, which are general more serious and carry the possibility for greater penalty.

Though they are not technically sex crimes, crimes of morality – such as prostitution and solicitation – are classified as misdemeanor offenses and are also vigorously prosecuted throughout Virginia. Such crimes fall under Title 18.2, Chapter 8 (Crimes Involving Morals and Decency). Generally, those convicted of prostitution and “commercial sexual conduct” face up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine up to $2,500. Solicitation – or the offering of money in exchange for sex acts – is also a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries the same penalties as prostitution. An exception is made, however, if the person solicits sex from a minor. Penalties in those instances can range from one to ten years in prison, depending on the age of the minor, and/or a fine up to $2,500.

Gun Offenses

Though many gun advocates like to cite the United States Constitution and the right to bear arms, it’s important to understand that right can be easily revoked when individuals violate basic principles of responsible gun ownership. Gun offenses in the Commonwealth of Virginia include carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony crime. Gun owners must properly register their firearms or face severe penalties if caught carrying an unregistered weapon. The Virginia Code addresses most gun-related offenses in Section 18.2-279 through  18.2-311, under Title 18.2 (Criminal Offenses Generally), Chapter 7 (Crimes Involving Health and Safety).

Gun offenses can include charges such as brandishing a weapon in public, bringing guns into prohibited areas (e.g., courthouses or schools), or willfully discharging a weapon in a public space. Gun crimes can result in misdemeanor to felony convictions and penalties can range from months in jail to years in prison, in addition to thousands of dollars in fines.

Drug Charges

The possession, manufacture, and distribution of illegal narcotics are just a few of the various criminal offenses related to drug crimes in Virginia. The details of each drug case depend on the type and amount of the drugs in question, but the penalties for all drug offenses can be particularly rigid. Moreover, having a drug offense conviction on your record can wreak devastating long-term damage. Individuals facing drug charges risk hefty fines and incarceration, with certain offenses carrying mandatory minimum jail terms. In addition to the type and amount of drugs involved, Virginia’s drug laws take into account the different schedules of controlled substances, which is a classification system for various drugs. For more information about controlled substances schedules you can visit the U.S. Department of Justice website here. It’s important to note that although cannabis (marijuana) is a Schedule I controlled substance, the Virginia state laws are narrowly tailored to cannabis as its own category of controlled substance.

Virginia Criminal Defense & DUI Attorney

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you are advised to consult with an experienced defense attorney who can help you understand the criminal process, the charges you face, and any potential penalties associated with a conviction. Having a criminal record can seriously impact your future employment and educational opportunities, hinder your ability to qualify for certain loans, threaten your standing in custody disputes, and damage your personal and professional relationships. Retaining a Leesburg, Virginia criminal defense attorney who is well versed in a variety of criminal offenses and DUI violations is your best chance to avoid incarceration and protect your rights. Thomas Soldan also handles cases in Fauquier County.