Criminal Defense Attorney in Fairfax, VA
What Happens When a Minor or Juvenile Is Facing Criminal Charges?
When a person under the age of 18 (in most states) has been charged with a crime, he or she will be required to go through the juvenile justice system. This is different from the criminal justice system that tries adults. As the parent of a child who was charged with a crime, you may be unsure about what to expect. A criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, VA from Dave Albo – Attorney can review the circumstances of your child’s case and explain the legal process as it applies to the charges. We encourage you to call our office and request a free consultation with our criminal defense attorney to discover your child’s legal options.
The following information is a general overview about how the process, though exceptions may apply in your child’s case:
Detention of a Minor
Law enforcement officers have the choice as to whether or not a minor should be referred to the juvenile court system. Dave Albo is a criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, VA who is very familiar with this. Although laws vary by state, an officer might:
- Detain the minor and warn him or her about the repercussions and consequences of committing the crime before being released
- Detain and hold the minor until a parent or guardian picks him or her up
- Take the minor child into custody and refer him or her to a court officer who handles juvenile cases
The Juvenile Court System
When a case has been referred to the juvenile court system, the prosecutor will choose whether or not to dismiss the case, file formal charges, or handle the matter off the record. Your criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, VA can provide insight as to which scenario is most likely.
Minors who will usually enter the juvenile court system usually fall into one of these categories:
- Children under 7 years of age cannot be tried for a crime they committed; rather, their parents may be held responsible
- Children between the ages of 7 and 15 can be tried in juvenile court
- Children between the ages of 12 and 18 can be tried in juvenile court, but if they are accused of a particularly serious crime, the prosecutor may try them as an adult
Off the Record Cases
If the prosecutor has decided to not pursue the matter in juvenile court, he or she might require the child to appear before a judge. Informal judgements can be made at the discretion of the judge and at the minimum may include a lecture. Other remedies may include paying a fine, reimbursement to the victim, performing community service, counseling, and so forth. Your criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, VA can suggest an appropriate punishment, but it will be up to the judge to decide.
With the help of a criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, VA, your child may be able to get released before formal charges are filed against them. Otherwise, the following process could ensue:
Arraignment: Formal charges are made.
Hearing: The court takes jurisdiction of the case or a fitness hearing is scheduled to determine whether the minor should be tried as an adult.
Plea: The minor pleads guilty or not guilty. Based on the plea, the case could go to trial.
Trial: A juvenile trial generally does not involve a jury; rather only a judge will hear the evidence and decide the fate of the minor.
Sentencing: If a judge finds the minor to be guilty, he or she will be sentenced.
Post Sentencing: Minors are typically required to appear in court after their sentencing to track their current progress.
Avoiding Formal Criminal Charges
A number of factors will likely be considered when a prosecutor is determining whether or not formal charges should be filed. Some might be:
- The charges and their severity
- The attitude of the minor
- The age of the minor
- Past problems or criminal acts by the minor
- Evidence against the minor
- The minor’s family circumstances
- Whether or not the minor has a criminal defense lawyer
Has Your Minor Child Been Charged with a Crime? Talk With a Criminal Defense Attorney in Fairfax, VA Today
A juvenile record can have consequences that last well into the minor’s adulthood. If your child has been charged with a crime, consider talking with a criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, VA immediately.
A Criminal Defense Attorney Fairfax, VA on Virginia Law
Being charged with a crime is stressful, and confusing and a criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, VA can help. Those normally in a position of trust — the police and prosecutors — are suddenly “on the other side.” Worse, Virginia’s procedures seem tilted against the defendant. Sure, there are platitudes such as “presumption of innocence” and “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” However, in Virginia, there is also jury recommended sentencing without context and limited discovery. Whatever the cause, it is a fact that some people are wrongfully convicted of crimes. A criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, Va is needed to work to avoid this.
Note: Dave Albo practices in Fairfax, VA and handles cases in other counties of Virginia. Fairfax, Va is referenced in this article because it is the largest jurisdiction in Virginia with the most rigid procedures. Work done to Fairfax standards usually meets or exceeds the standards in other jurisdictions in the Commonwealth, so it is common to use it as a benchmark. Learn more about How Field Sobriety Tests are Used in DWI’s.
What Are the General Principles of Virginia Criminal Law?
In Virginia, a person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. All crimes can be decided by a jury, and the jury must be unanimous to convict the person. The accused has the right to remain silent and require the prosecutor to prove his guilt, if possible. Thus, one can sit through a full jury trial doing and saying nothing and, at the end, ask the judge, “can I go home now?” If the prosecutor failed to prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, the answer will be “yes!” (Naturally, success at trial is usually not that easy — hence the need for a top criminal defense attorney.
What Makes Virginia Criminal Law Unique?
There are many things that make Virginia unique. The two most controversial ones are limited discovery and jury sentencing. Unlike in many states, the prosecutor is not required to turn over very much information about your case. Remarkably, your lawyer does not even get to see the police report! Some prosecutors, recognizing how unfair this is and truly wishing to avoid erroneous convictions on their watch, adopt an “open file” discovery policy. This permits the defense attorney to see the police report and other important information. However, most prosecutors only turn over the mandatory minimum.
Jury sentencing is the relatively unique Virginia procedure whereupon our juries have two functions. First, they determine whether a defendant is “guilty” or “not guilty.” This is what juries do in all states. However, second, if they find the defendant “guilty,” they deliberate a second time and recommend the sentence — how much prison or jail time. Despite the existence of Sentencing Guidelines that would give context to sentencing, jurors do not get to see them and, thus, make sentencing recommendations in the absence of this important context.
Can I Get in Trouble if I Didn’t Do Anything Wrong but Was Just “There”?
A person need not commit a crime to be criminally liable. One could be an “accomplice” who helped another commit the crime — such as a “lookout.” Or, one could help another who committed the crime as an accessory before or after the fact — such as one who hides the person after the crime is committed. A criminal defense attorney in such cases will try to dissuade the prosecution or argue for a better disposition due to the minor role of the client in the alleged offense.
What Are Common Criminal Law Defenses?
A criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, Va will often work from the back of a case forward. He or she will review the alleged crime – often using pattern jury instructions – and list the “elements.” Elements are the several things that the government must prove to win a conviction. Can each element be proven beyond a reasonable doubt?
Allegations that Constitutional rights have been violated are also common defenses. For example, if the police violate the Constitution by illegally searching one’s home, the penalty is that they can’t use any evidence obtained during that search. Defenses are different based on each case. For example, an alibi defense necessarily requires some proof that the accused was not at the crime scene.
What Is the Procedure for the Prosecution of a Misdemeanor?
Misdemeanor prosecutions commence on a Summons or Warrant of Arrest. The accused is given a court date for an “arraignment” wherein he is formally read the charges and told to get a criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, Va. The accused is given a second date for the trial. Motions may be heard on the day of trial or sometime in advance, depending on the court and issue. Misdemeanor trials are before a single judge in the General District Court. If convicted in that court, the accused can appeal to the Circuit Court for a new trial before a jury. In some instances, a misdemeanor trial begins in the Circuit Court.
What Is the Procedure for the Prosecution of a Felony?
Felony prosecutions commence on a Warrant of Arrest or an Indictment. In most cases, the accused is called before the General District Court for a Preliminary Hearing. This is a truncated trial on the issue of whether the government can prove that there is “sufficient cause” to prosecute him. If the case proceeds, it goes to the Circuit Court for an arraignment, motions, and trial.
What Are the Most Common Crimes Juveniles Commit?
Across the board crimes, juvenile crimes continue to fall over the years (with an occasional spike here and there) and this includes very violent crimes such as rape and murder. While promising crimes committed still happen. It’s important to note, however, that the leading crime that most juveniles commit is a nonviolent misdemeanor. Of course, a misdemeanor can cover a wide spectrum of crimes ranging from speeding 26 to 34 mph to low levels of arson, such as those without victims.
Of these nonviolent offenses, theft-larceny appears to be the most typical. The second crime is simple assault (eliciting fear in a victim such as threatening them with violence or pushing them away during an argument) followed by drug abuse, disorderly conduct, and finally, alcohol offenses which may include a DUI and drunkenness.
Types of Juvenile Sentencing
Although when we think of juvenile crimes we tend to imagine horror stories of kids being locked up, but there are also plenty of other ways that a juvenile may be sentenced especially if the crime committed isn’t a felony and is nonviolent. To begin with, even if they are sentenced to probation this period will be far less than that of an adult and many judges prefer more lenient options such as probation or house arrest. In a situation where it’s believed that a change in environment could be beneficial to the child then they may even be transferred to another relative or placed in foster care.
For more serious crimes, however, it’s not unusual for a child to spend a year or more on probation. Additionally, if the child is near the age of 18 then they may receive a blended sentence which means they will start their sentence in juvenile prison, but when they come of age they will be sent to an adult prison.
Other forms of sentencing may include the offender having to pay a fine, completing community service, undergoing a counseling program, or wearing an ankle bracelet tracking their location. In some circumstances when no prior crimes have been committed the court may let the child go with a verbal warning. Lastly, some programs focus more on rehabilitation than punishment offering counseling, job training, educational programs, and substance abuse therapy.
Do’s and Don’ts When You’re Getting Arrested
Do Be Polite and Courteous to the Police
A little courtesy goes a long way. For example, if you’re pulled over, address the officer as “sir” or “ma’am.” If you’re courteous and polite, the officer may let you go with a warning. If you’re belligerent and uncooperative, you’re guaranteeing yourself a ticket.
Do Keep Your Hands Where the Police Officers Can See Them
Tell the officer what you’re going to do before doing it, such as reaching into your glove compartment for your registration and insurance information. You don’t want to give the officer any reason to draw his weapon and point it at you.
Do Insist on Having a Lawyer Present When You’re Questioned
You have the right to an attorney, and if you can’t afford one, one will be appointed to you. Politely demand to have your criminal defense attorney in Fairfax VA, present when you’re questioned.
Do Know You Have the Right To Remain Silent
Beyond your name and address, Dave Albo Attorney might advise you not to say anything to the police. Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law, no matter how innocuous you think it is.
Don’t Resist Arrest
Even if you’re innocent, don’t resist arrest. Cooperate with the arresting officers to avoid more charges being leveled at you, including resisting arrest, which is a class 1 misdemeanor. You could be adding up to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $2,500 to your life. Running away from the police is also considered resisting arrest. Your criminal defense attorney in Fairfax VA, may tell you to just put your hands behind your back and go along with the officers.
Don’t Get Into an Argument With the Police
Remember, courteous and polite should be your watchwords when speaking with the police. Avail yourself of your right to remain silent, and don’t argue with the officers arresting you. You’d probably be inclined to defend yourself or explain what was really happening. Don’t. Your criminal defense attorney in Fairfax VA, Dave Albo Attorney, may tell you to stay silent.
Don’t Give the Police a Reason To Find You Threatening
If you wave your arms around or look menacing, police officers may feel compelled to draw a weapon and point it at you. It doesn’t matter if it’s “just” a taser, you don’t want anybody pointing any kind of weapon in your direction. Keep your hands where the officers can see them at all times. Don’t make any wild gestures or take steps toward the officers. Do not touch the officer, no matter how benign your intentions. That could easily be construed as assaulting a police officer.
Why Should I Choose Dave Albo to Defend Me?
Dave Albo has been defending criminal law cases in Virginia for over 21 years. He is a former prosecutor, he regularly teaches criminal law to Virginia judges and to other lawyers. Dave Albo is proud of his work and thinks that the accolades he has received in the media and from his clients really set him apart.
Call Dave Albo today if you wish to speak with a criminal defense attorney Fairfax VA residents trust.