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Fairfax Criminal Attorney
A criminal defense attorney based in Fairfax is well-suited to provide legal representation for clients who are facing a variety of criminal offenses in the region. From reckless driving to prostitution, from petty theft to fraud, from domestic abuse to drug possession — and everything in between — a successful Virginia criminal defense attorney is knowledgeable about the laws of the Commonwealth, effective courtroom strategies, and the proper questioning and investigative procedures. Having a proficient legal advocate on your side is paramount to maintaining your rights and your freedom. No matter the charges, an experienced Fairfax criminal lawyer will be prepared provide you with the best possible defense to help you avoid conviction and the maximum penalties that may be ordered by the Virginia courts.
Potential Penalties in the Commonwealth
A criminal offense may carry the lesser charge of a misdemeanor, or the more serious charge of a felony. Even misdemeanors, however, can lead to a permanent criminal record and other harsh consequences. Each alleged offender’s charges may vary based on the specific crime’s scope of violence, financial impact, evidence of premeditation, prior criminal convictions, and other aggravating factors. When choosing a lawyer, it is important to find a professional with a successful case history and a focus in the specific jurisdiction in which you were charged. You need someone who can help you understand the consequences of the charges against you and help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Misdemeanor charges in Virginia are categorized as Class 4, Class 3, Class 2, or Class 1, with Class 1 carrying the heaviest penalties. While a Class 4 or Class 3 conviction may result in a fine $250 to $500, Class 2 and Class 1 misdemeanors can result in jail time terms up to 12 months and much costlier fines, in the range of $1,000 to $2,500.
Felony convictions are similarly broken into classes, from Class 6 up to Class 1 with Class 1, once again, carrying the harshest penalties. A Class 5 or Class 6 felony conviction may result in a fine up to $2,500 and anywhere from one to 10 years in prison. Class 3 and Class 4 felonies can lead to a maximum fine of $100,000 and from two to 20 years in prison. Class 1 and Class 2 felonies carry the same $100,000 maximum fine as the lesser felonies, but may result in life behind bars or even the death penalty.
All criminal offenses in the Commonwealth can lead to additional administrative and personal consequences, as well. A permanent criminal record can affect one’s right to vote and/or own or possess a firearm, negatively impact residential and employment opportunities, result in driving restrictions or loss of driving privileges, and even affect immigration status and security clearances. If you have been charged with a crime in Virginia, it is important that you speak with a Fairfax criminal attorney to better understand the gravity of the charges against you and the specific consequences you face.
Criminal Charges in Fairfax, VA
Fairfax has a number of criminal defense attorneys who can provide legal representation for those charged with a crime in Virginia, but it is important to find a lawyer and a law firm with a successful history of sound criminal defense for a wide array of charges. These charges may include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Assault and Battery
- Domestic Abuse
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Drug Crimes
- Gun Crimes
- Theft and Larceny
- Manslaughter and Homicide
- Reckless Driving
- Sex Crimes
- And more
An effective Fairfax criminal attorney will have a thorough understanding of state law pertaining to all of these offenses, and will know what steps to take to fight a variety of criminal allegations in an effort to avoid conviction and unnecessary penalization.
Violent Crimes in Fairfax, VA
Assault charges can be particularly tricky. In the simplest terms, assault is an act by one individual intended to cause fear or apprehension of impending contact of a harmful or offensive nature in another individual. Because angry words spoken in a heated argument can be taken as a threat by one party, he or she can press charges of assault against the alleged offender, regardless of whether there was any real intent to invoke actual harm. Empty threats in the heat of passion may result in very real criminal consequences.
Beyond simple assault lies the charge of “assault and battery.” While often viewed as the same crime, assault is the mere threat accompanied by the power to execute, while battery is the occurrence of a physical act which causes harmful or offensive contact. Both are punishable under Section 18.2-57. A simple assault and battery may be charged as a misdemeanor offense, as long as the target is not selected because of their race, religion or ethnicity. In such cases, the offense is deemed a “hate crime” and is a felony offense that carries mandatory jail time.
Aggravated malicious wounding is a felony assault crime. It involves a specific intent to cause serious physical harm or even death. Often, the use of excessive violence or a deadly weapon is the aggravating factor which leads to a felony charge, rather than a “simple” misdemeanor charge.
Sexual battery and domestic assault and battery are other common assault-related offenses. Determining the intent of the alleged offender, the validity of the alleged victim’s claims, and other factors present at the time of the incident are important in developing an effective defense. If you have been charged with an assault crime, contact a Fairfax criminal lawyer who will listen to your side of the story and work with you to help you to protect your rights and reputation.
Reckless Driving and DUI in Fairfax
Far from mere traffic violations, reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are considered criminal offenses in the Commonwealth. Nearly 120,000 motor vehicle accidents were reported in Virginia in 2010, nearly 40 percent of which involved injuries. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, 229 people were killed in the Commonwealth in alcohol-related crashes and another 5,861 were injured in DUI collisions in 2012. Fairfax County accounted for eight of the fatalities and 594 of those injured statewide. To view a copy of the DMV report, please click here.
The state totals revealed a downward trend in the statistics when compared with 2011, a trend that law enforcement and many public safety groups are eager to see continue. This is, in large part, a good thing. But it also means that more money is being spent to find and prosecute alleged drunk drivers, and there are some individuals who have been wrongly accused or unfairly penalized.
The penalties for driving drunk or drugged may result in a permanent criminal record, driver’s license suspension or revocation, mandatory use of an ignition interlock device, community service, mandatory completion of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP), fines and court fees, demerit points against one’s license, and, in the most extreme cases, time in jail. Prior DUI convictions and a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can lead to the harshest penalties.
A reckless driving conviction carries the penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor, similar to those incurred for a DUI conviction. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Up to 12 months in jail
- A maximum fine of $2,500
- License suspension
- Demerit points on the driver’s record
To avoid the maximum penalties allowable by law, it is recommended that you obtain for yourself a dedicated Fairfax criminal attorney who knows how to properly defend those facing serious criminal driving charges.
Criminal Defense Professionals in Fairfax County
If you have been charged with a crime in the Fairfax area, you will need a skilled attorney working diligently on your behalf. Karin Riley Porter is just such an attorney. Call today for a free, initial legal consultation. Ms. Porter and the attorneys that she leads in the Virginia criminal practice groups can prepare you for the challenges that you face and help you understand the potential consequences of your specific charges. Through this initial meeting, she will begin to develop the strongest possible defense strategy; one that is aimed at either eliminating the charges or, if that’s not possible, working to have them reduced to lesser offenses. If a conviction is inevitable, she and her colleagues will work with prosecutors to secure a plea agreement that can minimize the potential penalties. Call her Fairfax law office today.
Fairfax County is a relatively high-income area, and so many parents are shocked or unprepared to deal with the criminal justice or juvenile legal systems when their children are charged with offenses like drug possession, driving under the influence, or assault. We have provided a brief article for parents of teens on juvenile drug diversion and drug prevention.
Fairfax County Courthouses
The Fairfax County Courthouse is located at 4110 Chain Bridge Road in Fairfax, Virginia.
While there are some free parking lots located around the courthouse, those spaces are extremely limited. The courthouse has a parking garage, which charges $2 an hr or $10 for more than five hours. The parking facility accepts cash and debit/credit, but be sure to bring at least $10 in cash as the machine has been known to fail and ATMs are not in the area. If you are taking public transportation, ride the metro to the Vienna stop on the orange line and transfer to a bus heading towards the courthouse.
Cell phones are not allowed in the courthouse. It is advisable to leave all electronic devices in the car or at home. However, they will let you put your phone in a locker that you can access on your way out. The security lines at this courthouse can be pretty long, so please plan on arriving early so you are not late for any court appointments.
There is a cafe and a cafeteria at this courthouse where you can grab food and beverages. However, within walking distance from the courthouse you can find Hard Times Cafe, Red Hot & Blue, Panera, and Potbelly’s.
Fairfax County Courthouse Phone Numbers
Traffic Division: 703-246-3764;
Criminal Division: 703-691-7320, Press 4, 3; or 703-246-3305
Civil Division: 703-691-7320, Press 4, 1; Small Claims: 4, 2; or 703-246-3012
Court Services Division: 703-691-7320, press 4, 4; or 703-246-7530
Clerk of Court: 703-246-2153
TTY for all offices, for hearing impaired only: 711
The Herndon Courthouse, a division of the Fairfax County General District Court, is located at 765 Lynn Street in Herndon, Virginia. Even though the courthouse is located in the building’s basement, it is easy to spot due to its unmistakable green glass roof. Cell phones, video cameras, and all electronic equipment are not allowed in the courthouse, but you can store it with the deputy by the front door who will hold it until you’re finished in court. Three parking garages, located on Lynn Street, Station Street, and Center Street, are within walking distance of the courthouse. There are also a number of eateries in downtown Herndon including: Dairy Queen, Mediterranean Breeze, and fine dining at Zeffirelli Ristorante Italiano. For directions, please visit the Fairfax County page on Herndon Courthouse directions.