When the police arrest you in Virginia, you should immediately seek the help of a qualified criminal defense lawyer. A criminal charge can significantly impact your life. Felonies are more serious than misdemeanors, and conviction can have severe consequences. Conviction of a felony can impact employment opportunities. It harms your ability to vote or serve on a jury and even your government security clearances.
When someone attacks a person, they have the right to defend themselves. However, it gets a bit more complicated once the person who used force in self-defense becomes a suspect for brandishing. A good Virginia criminal defense lawyer can assess the strength of a claim for self-defense.
In order to successfully claim self-defense, a person must prove that they were under threat. This means that they reasonably believed that the assailant was threatening them or someone else with serious bodily injury. One must also prove that the assailant performed some action that indicated that they were preparing to attack.
Virginia has some statutes that address self-defense, but the majority of its laws are based on case law. It also has a version of the castle doctrine. It allows deadly force to be used to prevent unlawful entry into a home or dwelling. However, a jury can find that using force was unjustified. If they believe that the person was at fault for provoking the conflict.
As with any criminal case, there are constitutional issues that arise. These include Fourth Amendment issues, which deal with searches of persons, vehicles, and homes. Also, Fifth Amendment rights may be involved in cases dealing with statements made to police officers after arrest. An attorney should look at all these rights and how they pertain to a specific person’s case.
Other constitutional issues include Sixth Amendment rights, which deal with a person’s right to legal representation, a speedy trial, and the right to a jury of their peers in court. This is important because a person’s rights may be violated if they are not given these legal protections in a timely manner. This can also have a direct impact on the outcome of a case. If a person believes their rights have been violated, they should contact a Virginia criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer can act as a buffer between the client and law enforcement until charges are filed.
Many criminal cases are resolved through plea bargaining. A person accused of a crime will agree to plead guilty or no contest in exchange for a lesser charge and/or sentence. Virginia judges usually abide by the terms of plea agreements.
In a charge bargain, your lawyer will negotiate with the Commonwealth Attorney to amend an existing criminal count to a lesser offense. For example, if you are charged with reckless driving in Virginia, a conviction could result in huge fines and license suspension, but your attorney might be able to reduce the charge to simple speeding and have the rest of the charges dropped.
An experienced reckless driving defense attorney can meet with you and evaluate the case to determine if a plea agreement is a good strategy. If so, she will work to eliminate the charges or, if that’s not possible, minimize the penalties. If a judge rejects the plea agreement, our team will be prepared to appeal.
Virginia criminal defense lawyers must be experienced with a variety of constitutional issues. These include Fourth Amendment concerns regarding unreasonable searches and seizures. They may also include Fifth and Sixth Amendment concerns. Whether or not these are relevant depends on the type of offense alleged and how the evidence is collected.
Sentencing is another important part of any case. This can occur after a guilty plea or after a jury or judge finds you not guilty. Virginia uses a two-tiered system for misdemeanors. Those cases must be tried in District Court without a jury before they can be taken up on appeal to Circuit Court, where there is a jury trial right.
A criminal attorney will help you navigate all of the hearings that must take place prior to your trial date. These include a preliminary hearing where the Commonwealth must show probable cause to move forward with the charges and various court motions.