Our Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains Virginia Criminal Law
Our criminal defense lawyer Fairfax, VA knows that being charged with a crime is stressful and confusing. 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.” Whatever the cause, it is a fact that some people are wrongfully convicted of crimes. Criminal defense attorneys work hard to avoid this.
Note: Our lawyers practice in Fairfax, and all other counties of Virginia. We have offices in Fairfax, Arlington, and Staunton. We reference Fairfax, VA in this article because it is the largest jurisdiction in Virginia with the most rigid procedures. Work done to Fairfax standards meets or exceeds the standards in every other jurisdiction in the Commonwealth, so it is common to use it as a benchmark.
When it comes to defending a client against charges, a criminal defense lawyer usually works backwards. They will review the alleged crime 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? Seeing that Constitutional rights have been protected are also common defenses that a criminal defense attorney might employ. 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 the case. For example, an alibi defense necessarily requires some proof that the accused was not at the crime scene. Our skilled Fairfax criminal defense lawyer knows what defenses best fit what fact patterns and uses that knowledge to best protect the defendant.
In Virginia, prosecutions for misdemeanors and felonies proceed somewhat differently and our Fairfax criminal defense lawyer is comfortable with both processes. Virginia 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 lawyer. 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 so that their criminal defense lawyer can argue a new trial before a jury.
Felony prosecutions in Virginia commence on a Warrant of Arrest or an Indictment and our criminal defense lawyer can help immediately. 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. At this stage the Prosecutor only must show that there is at least some evidence that the Defendant committed the crime. He does not have to prove the case. This was put in place by our Founding Fathers to make sure that truly innocent people are not subjected to the expense and stress of a criminal prosecution. If the case proceeds, it goes to the Circuit Court for an arraignment, motions, and trial. During this process, a criminal defense lawyer represents their client at all phases of the matter.
Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer is vitally important to protect your liberty. If you are charged with a crime, our experienced Fairfax criminal defense lawyer can give you a better chance of a favorable result through plea negotiations or at a trial.
Learn more: Should I testify in my own defense?
Learn more: What do You Need to Know About a DWI Arrest.
My Child Was Arrested, What Do I Do
Teenagers are known to make mistakes. It’s how they learn and grow. However, some of these mistakes can result in criminal charges. Depending on the severity of the charges, your teen could end up with a serious criminal record and end up incarcerated. If your teen has been charged with a crime, it’s important to speak with our Fairfax, VA criminal defense lawyer from Dave Albo – Attorney immediately.
Steps to Take
If your teen has been arrested, the first thing everyone should do is to try to remain calm. Although it may seem like the end of the world, the truth is that right now, your child has only been arrested, not convicted. Let your child know right away that they have rights just like an adult, including the right to refuse to answer any questions by police without a criminal defense lawyer present. However, you also want to remind your teen to remain respectful in all their dealings with law enforcement.
Not only does your child have the right to call you after their arrest and the right to remain silent and not incriminate himself or herself, but it is also important to know that you have parental rights in these situations, too.
You have the right to be notified by law enforcement if your teen has been arrested and charged with a crime. Your teen has the right to have you present during any interrogation by police. A point here to remember, however, is that you do not have an automatic right to be present during any questioning by police. Your child has to specifically request you be there.
Since your teen is a minor, they cannot post their own bail. They also cannot enter into a contract with a Virginia criminal defense lawyer. These are actions you must do form them.
When retaining a criminal defense lawyer, you want to make sure you hire a criminal defense attorney who is well versed and experienced in juvenile law. The juvenile criminal justice system is different from the adult criminal justice system. Whereas the adult system focuses on punishing the offender, the juvenile system is focused on rehabilitation.
There are also different results in the juvenile system than in the adult. For example, in the adult criminal justice system, when a person is found guilty or pleads guilty, this is referred to as a conviction. In the juvenile system, when a minor is found guilty or pleads guilty, it is referred to as an adjudication. A criminal defense lawyer can explain these types of differences to you so you will be aware and educated as to each step of the process your teen is going through.
Another thing to consider when choosing a criminal defense lawyer for your child – an attorney who is not experienced in juvenile law could end up making a procedural error that could result in hurting your child’s case.
When the Chain of Evidence Custody Breaks Down
Our Fairfax, VA criminal defense lawyer understands the importance of maintaining the chain of custody for evidence from a crime. This is because what might seem on the surface like an airtight case against one of our clients, may not be at all, particularly when the evidence is in question. The evidence can come into question when the law enforcement officers in charge of the evidence break the chain of custody. What that means, and how it can affect your case, is explained below. If you or someone you care about was arrested for a crime, give us a call. Our attorney can review your case at no charge and provide you guidance for making decisions on choosing legal representation. Dave Albo – Attorney focuses on representing their community members who have been accused of a crime and wish to protect their rights.
Understanding the Chain of Custody
In legal terms, the chain of custody refers to retaining control of evidence associated with a legal proceeding. The control is crucial to assure that the evidence is not tampered with, substituted, or removed as any of those scenarios might bar the truth from coming to light and justice being served. The chain of custody is deemed unbroken if it is collected, handled, and documented from the moment it is discovered by law enforcement until the court case is concluded. Even after the court case is over, the law enforcement agency in charge of it might retain custody of the evidence. This is done in the event that there is an appeal or other legal actions that require examination and presentation of the evidence.
Examples of Evidence and the Chain of Custody
Nearly anything can be considered evidence, depending on the nature of the criminal charge. As a result, maintaining the chain of custody can be easier with some forms of evidence as compared to others. For instance, if the scene of the crime is on an active cruise ship, holding that ship in a law enforcement facility is obviously not practical. However, other forms of evidence must be carefully controlled, such as with these examples:
- Blood and other types of bodily fluids
- Photographs and other documents
- Murder weapons
Information That is Included in the Chain of Custody Documentation
Depending on the nature of the evidence and the circumstances of the crime, the information included in the documentation will vary. There is also some degree of variation among law enforcement agencies and areas of the country. However, the following information is commonly collected, and when it is not it can be damaging to the prosecutor’s case:
- The date and time the evidence was collected.
- The name, rank, and agency associated with the law enforcement officer who collected that piece of evidence.
- The exact location where the evidence was collected.
- How the evidence was collected.
- A physical description of the item as detailed as appropriate, including its serial number if it has one.
- The signatures of the persons who were in possession of the evidence at any time and the dates the evidence was transferred through the chain of custody.
Fairfax Criminal Defense Infographic
To learn more about how our Fairfax criminal defense lawyer can help with your teen’s case, contact Dave Albo – Attorney today.
Contacting a Criminal Defense Lawyer for a DUI
A criminal defense lawyer in Fairfax, Virginia can help you with your criminal charges, no matter how great or small. While many people immediately assume of some headline-grabbing criminal case when they think about criminal defense, in reality many criminal defense cases are much less flashy.
Unlike an ordinary traffic violation (like running a red light or making an illegal turn), a DUI is actually a criminal charge. And like many more serious criminal charges, a DUI has the potential to seriously upend your life. A DUI can result in hefty fines, a suspended license, and even jail time – but it doesn’t have to. Fortunately, Dave Albo – Attorney is committed to ensuring you get a fair trial when it comes to your DUI, and any other kind of criminal case.
How Can Dave Albo Help?
When it comes to DUIs, it’s important to get as many details as possible about your case. There’s no reason you should be spending time in jail or slapped with fines for a DUI if it can be proven that the officers involved in your arrest didn’t follow proper procedure. The impact of a DUI can affect your life for years, so it’s important to do all you can to fight back against the charges.
Did the police officers read you your rights? Did they allow you a phone call? Was there a legitimate reason to pull you over in the first place? These are all important questions to consider when taking steps to fight your case, and Dave Albo can help you find all the right answers.
If you turn to a criminal defense lawyer, you should expect your attorney to provide you with all the legal information you need to fight for your future. Any criminal case has the potential to overwhelm you, especially if you get lost worrying and wondering about any possible punishments for what you’ve allegedly done. You might already be thinking about whether or not you’ll be able to find work after your conviction.
Dave Albo – Attorney is here to put your fears to rest. When you contact our office, we’ll provide you with all the information you need about what to expect from your case. We’ll ask you whether this is your first DUI, and we’ll ask you for any specifics you can recall from your arrest. This is no time to panic: Instead, it’s time for calm planning and action.
If you were recently arrested, it’s in your best interest to speak to our Fairfax criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer can provide you with a strong defense and protect your legal rights. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about criminal law.
Fairfax Criminal Defense Statistics
According to statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are an estimated 10 million arrests each year in the United States.
- The most common type of arrest is for a drug offense.
- The second most common type of arrest is for a property crime.
- The third most common type of arrest is for a violent crime.
- The majority of arrests are made by local police departments.
Frequently Asked Criminal Defense Questions
Should I Talk to the Police?
No. Talking to the police is actually one of the biggest mistakes defendants make. Even if the police act friendly and seem like they want to help you, don’t trust them. The police only want to speak to you to get information to use against you. They also don’t have the power to drop or reduce your charges, so there is no benefit to discussing your case with them. If the police ask to speak to you, politely decline.
Will I Go to Jail?
If you’re facing criminal charges, the possibility of going to jail is likely on the top of your mind. However, whether or not you face jail time will depend on several factors, such as the type of crime you’re charged with and whether you have a previous criminal record or not. For example, if you were charged with a minor misdemeanor and have never been in trouble with the law prior to this, there is a good chance that you can avoid jail time.
What Is a Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain is an agreement between a prosecuting attorney and defendant in which the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge for a lighter sentence. Sometimes accepting a plea bargain is within a defendant’s best interest. Your criminal defense lawyer in Fairfax, VA may advise you to take a plea bargain, for example, if a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor.
Should I Hire a Lawyer If I Plan to Plead Guilty?
Yes. Even if you plead guilty, it’s important to have a criminal lawyer who will protect your rights. Otherwise, the prosecution may try to give you the harshest penalties possible. A skilled criminal lawyer will know how to effectively negotiate with the prosecution to help you achieve a lighter sentence.
What Should I Look for in a Lawyer?
Ideally, you’ll want to work with a criminal lawyer who has extensive experience defending the type of crime you were charged with. For example, if you were charged with drunk driving, hire a lawyer who mainly handles DUI cases. The lawyer you select should also be communicative, honest, compassionate and assertive.
A criminal conviction could result in a jail or prison time. Even if you are only sentenced to probation or you receive a suspended sentence, the sentence can still have a negative impact on your life. Every arrest goes on your criminal record, even if the charges are eventually dismissed or you are acquitted. Our Fairfax, VA criminal defense lawyer knows that having a criminal record can wreak havoc on your future. A conviction can affect your ability to get a job, find a place to live, or further your education. It can even affect your eligibility to receive certain government benefits. If you have a criminal record, you may want to discuss the possibility of obtaining an expungement with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer.
Am I Eligible for an Expungement in Virginia?
Obtaining an expungement under Virginia law can be a complicated process. The law has strict requirements for who is eligible to apply for an expungement. These requirements include:
- The person was acquitted.
- The person was arrested and charged with contempt on a civil action they were a party to and found not guilty of that contempt charge.
- The Commonwealth Attorney made the decision not to prosecute the person and dismissed any and all charges.
- The person was charged with either assault and battery or a misdemeanor in which there was a civil remedy available. That remedy must have been satisfied and all criminal charges dismissed.
- The person’s identity was stolen and used by someone else who was arrested.
- A person who was convicted but later granted an absolute pardon because it was later proven the conviction was unjust.
Expungements are never automatically granted, regardless of why the person would be eligible. The person must petition the court and ask that their criminal record be expunged. A Fairfax criminal defense lawyer can explain each step of the process and what other requirements there may be.
Let a Criminal Defense Lawyer Fairfax VA Trusts Fight for You
If you have been charged with a crime or are being investigated, you may need a Fairfax criminal defense lawyer to ensure that your constitutional rights are protected. We have been aggressively fighting for our clients for more than two decades. We know the types of tactics that prosecutors and law enforcement might use in order to gain convictions, and we use all available resources to ensure that our clients receive and maintain strong defenses.
Contact our Fairfax criminal defense lawyer to set up an appointment to discuss your situation today.
Contact Our Office Today
When you reach out to Dave Albo – Attorney, you aren’t just getting a criminal defense attorney: You’re getting an advocate who will work to ensure the court views you as more than just another criminal case. You have a future beyond your criminal case, and a life worth living – and we’ll take every step necessary to remind the court.
We’ll provide you with the necessary help to get your life back on track. Reach out to Dave Albo – Attorney today, and see how a criminal defense lawyer in Fairfax, VA can help you regain control of your life, and your future.
“David Albo is amazing – super professional and very knowledgeable. I highly recommend retaining Dave’s services. He went out of his way to ensure all of my questions and concerns were addressed. Very friendly and quick to respond.”