Virginia First-Offense DUI Lawyer
Getting arrested for a DUI can be an anxiety inducing experience, especially if it is your first time dealing with law enforcement in this capacity. Following an arrest, you may feel confused and not know what steps to take, which is where a Virginia first-offense DUI lawyer can help. Get in touch with a compassionate and skilled DUI attorney that can guide you through this tumultuous time.
Where Are First-Time DUI Charges Heard?
First-time DUI charges in Virginia are going to be heard in the general district court of the jurisdiction in which a person was charged. If a person gets a DUI charge in Princes William County, then that person’s case will be heard in the Prince William County General District Court. If a person gets a DUI in Fairfax County that person’s case is going to be heard in Fairfax County General District Court.
In Virginia, the court is going to treat the first time DUI the same as they would in any other case. They are going to hear the evidence, they are going to listen to arguments from the prosecutor and the defense, and they will decide whether or not they believe that the person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Leniency of Judges and Juries
Judges and juries both are generally lenient when it comes to sentencing. Sentencing for a first-offense DUI almost always includes no active jail time. That is not true if a person has an elevated BAC of 0.15 or higher, in those case the person is required under Virginia law to serve some mandatory jail time but in terms of leniency at sentencing, active jail time is not standard for a first-offense DUI.
In terms of other aspects of the sentence that a person would receive, leniency is not an issue in Virginia because the required sentence for a person convicted of a first-offense DUI is written into the statute, meaning that a person will be given a 12-month loss of license. There is no negotiating that down to six months, nine months, or something else. Similarly, if the judges are mad at the person they cannot make it longer than 12 months, it has to be 12 months.
Building a Defense
There are three main categories of evidence that a Virginia first-time DUI lawyer will look at to determine whether or not there are any defenses present. The first thing an attorney will look at is the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment gives an individual the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures and that has been translated to mean that the police have to have reasonable articulable suspicion to stop an individual’s vehicle and probable cause to place them under arrest, so that is the first place to look. A lawyer will look at all the facts and totality of circumstances surrounding both the stop and the arrest to determine whether any constitutional challenges can be made.
Secondly, they look at statutory defenses to determine whether or not any of the many DUI statutes have been violated during the course of the police investigation, arrest, or testing.
Finally, they look for scientific defenses, which are specifically the tests that a person took, the machine that the person took the test on, the methodology that was used, and any other flaws that might be present in the testing process. It is a comprehensive look at all aspects of the DUI process from the moment the officer put their lights on until the moment that person submitted to the tests to determine the level of alcohol in their system.
Mistakes to Avoid as a First-Time DUI Defendant
Under most circumstances, the worst thing that a person can do is to plead guilty. If an individual is charged with a standard first-offense DUI with a BAC of 0.14 or below, they have no reason not to try the case because that individual is going to get the same thing that they would get if that person pleads guilty or if that individual tried the case and lost.
A Virginia first-offense DUI lawyer should look for any possible issues with the case that they can use to build a person’s defense. A lot of people just go in there and plead guilty because they think they cannot win and they might be right but there are DUI cases where it might have seemed like the defense had no chance of winning and all of the sudden evidence starts coming in, it starts going sideways for the government, and the defense ends up winning.
Even if it looks like the case is a complete loss, a person would be well served to go ahead and just try it anyway. Now, that is not true if an individual has an elevated BAC because if a person has an elevated BAC, they are looking at a mandatory minimum jail time. Often it is possible if there is enough mitigating evidence on a person’s side a person’s lawyer will be able to negotiate an outcome with the government that will either reduce or eliminate the amount of the jail time that a person is required to serve. Under those circumstances, it would make sense to plead guilty if a person is able to mitigate the amount of time that a person would have to serve.
Value of a Lawyer
After being charged with a DUI, it can be difficult to know what your next step should be which is why the guidance of a Virginia first-offense DUI lawyer can be instrumental in building your case. Your lawyer can examine the facts of your case and build a solid defense for you.