Fauquier County Criminal Lawyer
Anyone charged with a crime in Fauquier County needs effective, seasoned legal counsel to defend them from a multitude of serious charges and penalties. The combination of keen legal insight with the local judicial system is key to providing the strongest possible defense to a variety of criminal allegations. For answers to questions regarding your specific charge, you should consult with a well-qualified Fauquier County criminal lawyer. For a general overview of the types of charges that one might face in the county, feel free to refer to the information below.
Criminal charges in Virginia can be very serious, and facing them alone can be stressful and daunting. To protect yourself from the repercussions of a criminal judge, contact an experienced Virginia criminal lawyer.
Assault and Battery
Assault is classified as crimes against persons and include some of the most serious allegations that a person can face in Fauquier County and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. The crime of assault is generally defined as the threat or use of force against an individual that causes the alleged victim to have “reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact.” Assault can be a civil wrong (tort) or a criminal offense. The term assault and battery typically applies to crimes that involve the combination of the above mentioned assault followed by the actual harmful or offensive contact. See Virginia Title 18.2, Chapter 4, Section 18.2-57.
Penalties for assault can range from a Class 1 misdemeanor for Simple assault or simple assault and battery, which can result in up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine to a Class 6 felony for assault on an officer, EMT, judge, firefighter or other public official. A Class 6 felony can result in up to five years in prison, unless the judge or jury opts to reduce the sentence. Those so convicted must, however, serve a mandatory minimum of six months in jail. This means there is no hope or option for early release, parole or probation. See Sections 18.2-57(C) and 18.2-10.
Theft, Robbery & Burglary
These offenses are a mix of so-called violent crimes, such as robbery, and property crimes, such as burglary. The crime of theft is further broken into the categories of grand larceny, which is a felony offense, and petit larceny, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Grand larceny, according to Section 18.2-95, states an individual may be guilty of grand larceny if they steal something worth at least $5 directly from another person, steal at $500 worth of items, or steal a gun or firearm of any value. Petit larceny applies if the person takes less than $5 worth of money or goods from directly from a person or steals less than $500 worth of items from any location. Penalties are as follows:
- Grand larceny, one to 20 years in prison or, at the discretion of the court, up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 or both.
- Petit larceny, up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
- Petit larceny with a prior conviction, 30 days to one year in jail.
Examples of petit larceny might include shoplifting of items of minor value, or less than $500. If, however, you are charged with shoplifting a new iPhone or an expensive piece of jewelry, you face the possibility of grand larceny charges.
Fauquier County DUI
If you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) in Virginia, the general rule is that you had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or above. But if you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) you may be charged if your BAC registers as low as 0.04 percent. For drivers who are younger than 21, a BAC of 0.02 percent can result in a DUI charge. Additionally, nearly any measurable amount of certain drugs in the system – such as cocaine, methamphetamine, PCP or ecstasy, can result in a drug-related DUI. See Section 18.2-269(A)(4).
A first time DUI offense can result in up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $250 to $2,500. If your BAC measured 0.15-.2 percent, a mandatory minimum of five days in jail is added to the penalty. Those with a BAC of .20 or more face an enhanced penalty of 10 days in jail.
A second DUI conviction within 10 years can result in one month to one year in jail and a fine of $500 to $2,500. A mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail is required. If the second conviction involves a BAC of 0.15 through 0.20, an additional 10 day mandatory minimum is added. If the BAC registers more than 0.20, the enhanced penalty jumps to 20 mandatory minimum days. Anyone convicted of a third DUI within a 10 year period faces the possibility of a Class 6 felony charge, which requires a minimum of 90 days in jail. The penalties can range from one to five years and a $1,000 fine, or – if the court or jury so chooses – 90 days to 12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $2,500.
Additional penalties include license suspension, completion of alcohol safety programs, and having an ignition interlock device installed if the BAC registers above 0.15 percent. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles offers a breakdown of the additional penalties (pdf file).
Fauquier County Traffic Offenses
If you facing traffic offenses in Fauquier County and already have a couple of traffic tickets with your DMV point total creeping up, one more relatively minor moving violation, such as a speeding ticket, could be enough to push you over the limit and result in the suspension of your driver’s license. This is why should consult with an Fauquier County criminal attorney before you decide to just “pay the fine and be done with it.”
Reckless Driving in Fauquier County
Additionally, we should note that if you have been cited for reckless driving in Fauquier County, or anywhere in Virginia, you are facing a Class 1 misdemeanor criminal charge. That means that in addition to costly fines you could face possible jail time and suspension of your license.
Reckless driving is a broadly defined offense collected from several statutes to create a “super class” of driving violations. Virginia state code aptly describes it as driving, “at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.” This gives law enforcement a great deal of leeway – and a certain amount of subjectivity – to interpret reckless driving laws as the officer sees fit. That subjectivity can be challenged by a skilled litigator. A seasoned traffic lawyer can assist many who are charged with reckless driving in Virginia to see their citation reduced, if not outright eliminated, to a lesser charge of speeding or some other traffic violation. This is crucial in avoiding having a criminal conviction on your record.
The consequences of a drug conviction in Fauquier County depend upon the type of the drug in question. Drugs in the Commonwealth are classified via Schedule I-VI, which Schedule I drugs being the most serious and Schedule VI drugs considered the least dangerous and, therefore, a less serious offense. Possession of Schedule I and II drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, meth, and ecstasy, is a Class 5 felony and can result in up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Possession of Scheduled III-VI drugs are misdemeanor offenses that can result in months or up to a year in jail, depending on the drug. Some other common drug charges include:
- Possession of marijuana – remains illegal in Virginia, even in smaller amounts, unless the individual has a valid prescription. If not, conviction for simple possession can result in up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of $500. Possession of less than half an ounce is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Those with prior convictions for marijuana possession also face a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can result in up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
- Illegal possession of prescription drugs – first offenses are often charged as misdemeanors, which can result in a fine as much as $2,500 and up to six months in jail.
Allegations of possession with intent to distribute – or attempting to sell any drugs, including marijuana — completely changes the tone of the charges and potential penalties. Prison sentences for distribution, manufacture and trafficking can result in five to 40 years in prison or, in some cases, life terms. For drug offenses in Warrenton, consult with a Warrenton drug lawyer today.
Even though Virginia has some of the least-restrictive gun and weapons laws those that do exist are meant to respect the Second Amendment while still protecting the public. Weapons violation charges in Fauquier County come in many different forms and can be brought state or federal authorities. Most of the Commonwealth’s gun charges involve violations of carry and registration rules. Most of these violations are charged and punished as misdemeanors. But some others can include:
- Reckless handling of firearms – commonly charged for pointing a loaded weapon at an individual.
- Carrying loaded firearms where prohibited – such as a public building or court house, school, church, or airport terminal.
- Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit – you can carry any legal firearm openly but you cannot conceal it unless you have a permit to do so.
- Hunting with firearms while under the influence – penalties and procedures are usually the same as with a DUI.
- Using or possessing a firearm while committing a felony – this enhances any underlying felony’s punishment
Sex crimes charges are covered in Title 18.2, Chapter 4, Sections 18.2-61 through 18.2-67.10 and are generally defined as any individual performing a sexual act with a person who has not, or who cannot, provide consent. Though most sex crimes in Virginia involve physical acts, there are crimes in which a victim may not be physically harmed that are still considered sex crimes. Examples of sex crime charges include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Rape, attempted rape, and statutory rape
- Indecent exposure
- Aggravated sexual battery
- Taking liberties with a minor
- Human trafficking
- Abduction for an immoral purpose
- Possession or distribution of child pornography
Convicted sex offenders are required to register with the Virginia Sex Offender Registry upon their release from prison or jail, which can seriously restrict where they may live and work. If they fail to register or provide false information they face a return to prison and additional charges.