Alexandria Criminal Attorney
Facing any type of criminal accusation can be a daunting and stressful experience. Especially for those who have never been involved in the criminal justice system before, dealing with court dates, document submissions, and crafting a defense strategy, in general, are all best handled by an experienced attorney.
If you are facing criminal charges in Alexandria, Virginia, our legal team may be able to help. We have successfully defended criminal cases across Alexandria and are experienced in Virginia and federal criminal law. A criminal charge is quite serious, but a positive outcome to the charge may be possible. Contact our Alexandria criminal lawyers for a no-cost consultation to explain your case and find potential strategies that we could use to defend you.
Crime in Alexandria
Home to the United States Patent and Trademark office, Alexandria is a city shaped by the occupations of its residents. Its close proximity to the nation’s capital makes the city an ideal location to live for federal employees.
Alexandria has a crime index of 39, making it safer than only 39 percent of all United States cities. The safest city in the United States has an index of 100, and Alexandria, by comparison, has an above average crime rate.
While murder is typically uncommon in Alexandria, property crimes and other types of violent crimes are more frequent.
Role of Law Enforcement
Police officers in Alexandria and throughout the Commonwealth have broad powers to investigate alleged criminal activity and arrest those suspected of committing crimes. However, it is important for criminal defendants to understand their rights to privacy.
As a result, police officers must have at least a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity to stop a person. A stop allows law enforcement to question someone and check if he or she is carrying a weapon.
If an officer develops probable cause that a crime has occurred after stopping someone, such as possession of drugs or stolen goods, an arrest would be made. Additionally, if there is probable cause, law enforcement can ask a judge to issue an arrest warrant.
Whether a stop or arrest was legally executed under the circumstances is a major factor in every Alexandria criminal case. An experienced attorney could help explain a person’s rights against these actions and argue in court that a police officer’s actions were illegal during the arrest.
Categories of Crime and Penalties
There are two sides to every story. Just because you have been charged with a criminal offense does not mean that you have done something wrong or that you will definitely be convicted. Having a seasoned team of Alexandria criminal lawyers on your side increases your chances of beating the charges exponentially. Types of criminal offenses with which you could be charged include:
- Federal Crimes
- Speeding Tickets
- Drug-related Charges
- Domestic Violence
- Reckless Driving
- Eluding an Officer
- Gun Crimes
The penalties associated with even the most minor offenses can be harsh and have lasting effects on your personal and professional life. With sentences involving exorbitant fines, possible jail time, and even the loss of driving privileges, criminal offenses in Alexandria should be taken very seriously.
Those who are convicted will also develop a criminal record and may have to report their conviction to future prospective employers. That can also have the ripple effect of making it difficult to obtain or maintain a security clearance, which can have a significant impact on Alexandria residents who have government jobs.
Felony convictions can also lead to loss of certain constitutional rights such as the right to bear arms or vote. That is why criminal charges need to be taken very seriously and should be handled by a skilled attorney who has extensive knowledge of the Alexandria legal system.
Section 18.2-57 of the Code of Virginia defines assault as the threat or use of force on an individual that causes the individual to have reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact. It is easy for a simple disagreement between two individuals to escalate into a physical altercation and thus lead to criminal charges of assault.
Occasionally, persons acting in self-defense are accused of assault by law enforcement officials who arrived late to the scene and did not witness the entire event. Self-defense is an absolute defense to any assault, provided the amount of force used to defend yourself was reasonable and just enough force to repel an impending assault. Simple assault or assault and battery is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2,500 fine making it important that an Alexandria criminal attorney is contacted.
Drug offenses are punished especially harshly in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The charges you could face as well as the associated penalties vary depending on the type and quantity of the drug involved and the type of activity. Virginia’s criminal code outlines all of the various drug-related offenses that you may be accused of having committed. These charges range from simple drug possession to distributing controlled substances to minors.
Many times individuals who are accused of committing drug-related crimes actually have deep-rooted substance abuse or dependency issues that are best handled through treatment programs, not jail time and fines. A skilled Alexandria criminal lawyer can help protect you from such harsh penalties should you be accused of a drug crime in Alexandria.
Driving under the influence is a serious crime in Alexandria and is outlined in Section 18.2-266 of the Code of Virginia. In addition to the potential jail time and fines that could accompany a conviction for a drunk driving-related offense, those who are found guilty may also face consequences from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Licenses suspensions, restricted licenses, and ignition interlock devices are also potential consequences of a DUI charge in Alexandria.
In order to protect yourself from such harsh consequences and have the strongest chance of maintaining your driving privileges, contact a well-qualified defense attorney who can help you fight the charges you face.
Prostitution and Solicitation
Although prostitution and solicitation are generally considered nonviolent crimes, they are still taken seriously by the Virginia judicial system and should not be taken lightly by the accused. Prostitution and solicitation are both defined in Section 18.2-346 of the Code of Virginia and are classified as Class 1 misdemeanors.
However, anyone who is found guilty of soliciting prostitution from a minor faces a Class 6 felony charge. A Class 6 felony in Virginia is punishable by one to five years in prison or, at the discretion of the court or a jury, lesser penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
Many individuals unknowingly face reckless driving charges after committing a seemingly minor traffic infraction due to the fact that reckless driving laws in Virginia are very ambiguous and include several different driving behaviors. Generally, reckless driving is considered driving a motor vehicle in a manner that is deemed to endanger others’ health or property. Specific instances of reckless driving includes driving more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or driving more than 80 miles per hour. Motorists may also find themselves facing reckless driving charges if they:
- Pass an emergency vehicle that has its lights or siren on
- Drive too fast for the weather or road conditions
- Pass a motor vehicle on a hill where the driver’s view is obstructed; or
- Fail to properly use a signal
Reckless driving is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, but it can also have an impact on your driver’s license. The Virginia DMV may assess points to your driving record for a reckless driving conviction.
Theft offenses in Virginia are broken down into robbery, burglary, and larceny. Larceny is considered stealing something of value without using violence, whereas robbery is characterized by the threat of violence used in combination with stealing someone else’s property, and burglary is a combination of theft and breaking and entering.
All theft crimes in Virginia are taken very seriously by the court system and can be punished harshly depending on the severity of the offense and the value of the items stolen. On top of the jail time and fines that could accompany a conviction, individuals may also be forced to pay restitution to the original owner of the property in question.
What Rights Does an Individual Have While in Police Custody?
No matter the exact behavior that leads police officers to make an arrest, the rights of the suspects remain the same. As soon as police officers arrest a person, they must read them their Miranda rights.
The most important Miranda right is the right to remain silent. Police officers are free to question suspects as much as they please. However, under no circumstances does a suspect need to provide an answer. In fact, it is rarely advisable to do so. This right works in tandem with another Miranda protection: the right to have an attorney present during questioning.
If a person under arrest does feel that talking with the police may be of help, an attorney can be present to help avoid self-incrimination. In addition, having an attorney present can also make it clear that a suspect does not wish to talk at all. Always remember that the police officers are never going to want to help a suspect. Their only goal is to collect additional information, preferably a confession. An Alexandria criminal attorney could help protect the rights of those in police custody.
Fair Bail Terms in Alexandria
If an arrest does lead to a formal entry of charges in an Alexandria criminal court, an attorney can play a vital role from the earliest stages of a case. The first time that a defendant appears in court is for an arraignment. Ideally, this occurs the same day as an arrest or the next morning.
An arraignment performs several functions in a criminal case. The first is to enter a formal charge into the court’s docket. Sometimes the court will determine conditions for bail or release. Many instances that involve misdemeanor charges can see a defendant released on their own recognizance. Essentially, this means that the defendant promises to return to court for all future sessions and to remain out of trouble. However, if the court believes that there is a flight risk, or the defendant poses a threat to the community, the judge may impose bail. This is especially likely when the charges before the court constitute a felony. If the court decides not to address the issue of bail at the arraignment, a person is always able to file a bond motion for the next day.
An Alexandria criminal attorney could help to fight for fair bail terms. They can help present arguments to the court that a defendant will return for all future sessions and that the implementation of pretrial release conditions is not necessary.
What Evidentiary Issues Arise in Alexandria Criminal Cases?
Many people assume that a trial is the only chance that a defendant has to contest the charges against them. Fortunately, this is not true. An Alexandria criminal attorney knows that they can take steps to help as soon as the case begins with an arraignment.
One powerful tool that a defendant attorney can use is the rule that a prosecutor must disclose their evidence and witnesses in felony cases. There are no surprises in court, and a defense lawyer has the opportunity to evaluate evidence not just for its strength, but also for its legality. For example, a defendant facing drug possession charges may find that the evidence against them in their case was the product of a search warrant executed on their house. While there may be little doubt that the search uncovered illegal drugs, the legality of the search may be a point of debate. An Alexandria criminal attorney could help question the legality of any evidence that may be included in the prosecution’s disclosure package.
Effective Representation for Individuals in Alexandria
Proper criminal defense is an active job that requires an attorney’s full attention from the moment of arrest, to time spent in police custody, to all court sessions. In addition, a lawyer can help to promote your rights during talks with prosecutors even when court is not in session.
At the same time, an Alexandria criminal attorney knows that effective representation requires proper communication. An attorney can help to explain the nature of the charges that a person faces and what consequences may result from a conviction. They can then recommend a path to move forward while recognizing that the ultimate choices on how to proceed remain in the hands of defendants.
If a person’s goal is to come to a plea deal with the hopes of avoiding jail time, an Alexandria criminal lawyer can negotiate terms from a position of strength. At the same time, every person has the right to a trial, and if that is what a defendant wants to do to protest their innocence, an attorney can help to present evidence to a jury. Reach out to an attorney today. The sooner they can get to work for you, the better your chances for a positive outcome.
Ask an Alexandria Criminal Attorney for Help
It would be unwise to face serious criminal charges alone. If you have been accused of a criminal act, contact an Alexandria criminal attorney to learn more about the charges you face as well as the strongest strategies for defense. Call our law office today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
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