Common Criminal Charges in Virginia
Some of the most common criminal charges in the Commonwealth of Virginia include petit larceny, shoplifting, grand larceny, DUI, reckless driving, trespassing and assault. In addition, there are also various types of drug charges, including possession and distribution of illegal drugs or possession of drug paraphernalia that are all quite common charges. Despite how common these charges are however, they can still carry serious penalties and therefore warrant attention from an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney. Call today to learn more or discuss your case. Even minor criminal convictions can have adverse consequences for life.
Why These Charges Are Common
Some of these charges are common because people can commit them without intending to do so. This is most common in the DUI and reckless driving context. For instance, a driver might not have intended to travel above 80 miles per hour or 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Oftentimes, drivers find themselves driving at these speeds without specific intention and they are charged with the criminal offense of reckless driving. Reckless driving is by far the most commonly charged criminal offense in Virginia, but it is still a criminal offense. In many counties, it is best to work with an attorney to reduce or dismiss a reckless driving charge rather than tarnish your record.
Some of the other offenses are common because they are crimes of opportunity or crimes of poor decision-making. This is in the case with offenses such as DUI, shoplifting, petit larceny, simple assault and trespassing. Sometimes, the heat of the moment takes over and someone with no criminal history otherwise may get blurred vision or become scared. Good people often make poor decisions, and working with an experienced attorney can help show the government how that occurred in a specific case.
How Innocent Individuals May Be Implicated
Innocent people may be implicated in these types of cases through interacting with others who are living on the wrong side of the law or who are taking unnecessary risks. In other cases, law enforcement officers have simply made a mistake.
For someone to be truly innocent of, say, a shoplifting or a petit larceny charge, it could be an issue of mistaken identity, mistake of facts, or mistake of the law. The store or the law enforcement officer might be incorrectly applying legal standards to a person’s conduct. Oftentimes, common mistakes and simple oversight can lead to criminal offense charges against an innocent person.
Top 3 Things to Know if Charged
The top three things that everyone should know are number one, Virginia takes all criminal offenses very seriously. In Virginia we have serious penalties for offenses that are not considered as serious in some of our neighboring jurisdictions. Those include possession of marijuana or certain other drugs, DUI, and even reckless driving criminal charges for high speed.
Number two, know that simply walking into court and telling your side of the story is never a good idea in Virginia. Judges are ready and willing to impose serious penalties, even for someone who appears without an attorney. You should work with an experienced attorney who will be able to present your defense with the best possible strategy.
Number three, exercise your rights. Your right to remain silent, and your right to challenge evidence should never be overlooked. Even in cases that appear to be simple, an experienced attorney is often able to find a flaw that can lead to a much better result. It is important to understand your rights and to protect them.
How An Attorney Can Help
Criminal defense lawyers are valuable for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, an experienced criminal defense attorney can explain to you what you are charged with, the elements of the offense, what defenses you may have available and how you can achieve the best results. A good criminal lawyer can explain your rights and how to best protect them. In many cases, the best and simplest result may be achieved through negotiations with the prosecution, otherwise known as a plea agreement. A plea agreement may include favorable terms for avoidance of a conviction, also known as a deferred finding or suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) or the plea agreement may call for a conviction but with a known, favorable outcome given the exposure to more harsh potential penalties.
Depending on the unique circumstances and facts of your case, there may be a variety of different strategies that would be most appropriate. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to apply thorough knowledge of criminal law and criminal procedures in representing you, depending on the facts of the case and other circumstances such as local practice and local rules.
In addition, criminal defense attorneys have access to legal processes that individuals representing themselves do not have. This means that a criminal defense attorney typically has increased access to the prosecutor, also known as the Commonwealth’s Attorney, law enforcement officers and other types of investigators. Attorneys also have additional resources such as private investigators, clerks and assistants to assist them in the defense of your case. Call today to get started.