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Fauquier County Criminal Attorney
The Virginia Department of State Police noted in its 2012 statistics that certain crimes, such as assault, larceny, and drug and narcotics offenses, far outpaced other crimes, such as rape and murder. That does not mean, however, that someone who is suspected of a sex crime can assume they are less likely to face criminal prosecution or that the region takes a lax stance on the more “prolific” crimes, such as assault and drug offenses. Fauquier County authorities aggressively investigate and pursue charges regarding all criminal matters in the region. Those who have been charged – or who believe they may be charged in the future – will require the skills and dedication of an experienced Fauquier County criminal lawyer. If you have been arrested, or believe you are under investigation, and require legal assistance and answers to specific questions, you should contact a well-qualified attorney as soon as possible. For a general over of some of the most common offenses charged in the region, please refer to the following information.
Assault Charges in Fauquier County
All of these offenses are crimes against persons. They are charged as various forms of assault encompassing assault and battery to murder. Assault is the threat (or implication) by the perpetrator to harm the victim while battery is the harm that is done. The consequences for this crime depend on the defendant’s motives and how seriously the victim is wounded. If a weapon is used, enhanced penalties may apply to produce a sentence of up to 20 years in prison for the most serious assault convictions. Assault as a hate crime produces additional prison time
There are several degrees of murder, beginning with manslaughter – in which someone dies but the defendant had no intent to kill or even harm the victim. And capital murder comes with the death penalty.
Harassment is a form of assault, though it’s usually charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Prank calls and cyber-bullying can constitute harassment.
Theft-Related Offenses in Fauquier County
These offenses are largely viewed as crimes against property and fall within three general categories: larceny, robbery, and burglary. The category of larceny is further broken down into two classifications: petit larceny and grand larceny.
Petit larceny is a misdemeanor and applies to cases in which items stolen are valued at less than $200. As a Class 1 misdemeanor, conviction of petit larceny can result in up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. See Va. Code Section 18.2-96. If, however, you have a prior conviction from any jurisdiction for any kind of larceny offense, you could face a mandatory 30 day minimum term and up to 12 months in jail. See Section 18.2-104.
Grand larceny is a felony offense and applies to items valued at $200 or more or if someone steals something work at least $5 directly from the victim. Stealing a gun, regardless of its value, can also result in a grand larceny charge and conviction. See Section. 18.2-95. As a felony offense, conviction can result in one to 20 years in prison or, at the discretion of the court or jury, lesser penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
Robbery and Burglary
Robbery is defined in Section 18.2-58 as an offense that requires the act of theft and violence, or the threat of violence. You may be found guilty of robbery if you rob a person through the use of violence, such as choking, beating, or striking the victim, or through assault, which is putting the victim in fear or serious bodily harm. The use of a gun or other deadly weapon, either by threat or brandishing the weapon, can also result in robbery charges. Robbery is a felony conviction and those convicted can face a range of penalties from five years to life in prison.
Burglary is also classified as a felony offense and can result in five to 20 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine, depending on the circumstances of the case. Generally, if one is accused of breaking into a home or business at night with the intent to steal items, they will face a Class 3 felony charge. If, however, a weapon is involved, that can escalate the charge to a Class 2 felony and the potential exposure to harsh penalties increases dramatically. Other charges that fall within the category of burglary include:
- Possession of burglarious tools
- Statutory burglary
- Breaking and entering
- Entering a Bank Armed with the intent to commit larceny
Shoplifting is likely to be charged as petit larceny or grand larceny offense, depending on the value of the items or item stolen.
If your blood alcohol content (BAC) measures 0.08 percent or more, you will likely be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Fauquier County, Va. Commercial drivers and those under the age of 21 could face a DUI conviction for less than 0.08 percent. And those who have any detectable level of alcohol and drugs in their system, and who are perceived by law enforcement as being impaired, can also face DUI conviction.
Though DUI is generally a Class 1 misdemeanor, some cases can be rise to the level of a felony if they involve the death or injury of another and/or multiple previous DUI convictions. A first-time offense can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of $250 to $2,500. Penalties, however, can increase if there are previous convictions, extremely high BAC levels, or if a child is a passenger in the car at the time of arrest. It’s also important to note that all DUIs can result in a one-year license suspension, completion of an alcohol safety course, and the installation of an ignition interlock device (if the person’s BAC measured more than 0.15 percent).
Traffic Offenses in Fauquier County
If you already have a couple of traffic convictions, the points against your license are creeping up, and you are stopped for speeding in Fauquier County, that could be enough to push you over the line and the DMV may suspend or revoke your driver’s license.
Also, those charged with reckless driving in Fauquier, and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, may not realize that they are facing a criminal charge. Though it’s a misdemeanor, it will still reflect on your record as a criminal charge and can result in jail time and costly fines. Because of these reasons, those charged with traffic offenses in the region would be wise to retain qualified legal counsel.
Part of this is due to the fact that reckless driving is a broadly defined offense. It is generally defined as driving “at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person.” This gives law enforcement a great deal of leeway – and a certain amount of subjectivity – to interpret reckless driving behavior. But in that subjectivity can also be found the law’s weaknesses. The burden of proving you were driving recklessly falls on the officer, and even so-called hard evidence – such as the use of a radar gun – can be questioned and undermined by a seasoned traffic lawyer who is familiar with law enforcement and judicial procedure in Fauquier County.
Fraud and White Collar Crime
Any white collar criminal charge can cause great damage to any professional’s reputation and community-standing. Simply being charged with a white collar offense, or even being investigated, immediately calls into question the defendant’s character and trustworthiness. White collar charges can be levied at the state and federal level and may encompass a variety of offenses, including:
- Insider trading
- Check forgery
- Money laundering
- Identity theft
- Mortgage fraud
The consequences of a drug conviction depend upon the type and quantity of the drug involved. With the exception of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines, possession of very small amounts of controlled substances – including marijuana – are usually charged as misdemeanors for a first offense. Possession of prescription drugs without a prescription is also prohibited in Fauquier County. Charges of prescription medication abuse and forgery of prescriptions are on the rise in Virginia, and throughout the U.S. Some other common drug charges include:
- Possession of marijuana – under a half ounce is a misdemeanor, offenses with more than a half ounce may be classified as Class 6 felonies
- Possession of controlled substances – can range from a Class 6 to a Class 3 felony depending on the drug type and quantity
- Illegal possession of prescription drugs – first offenses are often – but not always – charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor, which can result in as much as a $2,500 fine and six months in jail
Possession of drugs with intent to distribute or attempting to sell any drugs, including marijuana, can result in serious felony charges and, as such, convictions can result in prison terms range from five to 40 years.
Fauquier Gun Crimes
Even though many argue that the Commonwealth has some of the least restrictive gun and weapons laws, the laws and regulations that do exist can result in serous penalties for those who are found in violation.
Most of Virginia’s gun charges stem from how a weapon is carried and whether or not it is properly registered. Many of these charges include:
- Reckless handling of firearms;
- Carrying firearms where prohibited – such as a public building or court house, school or school yard, or airport terminal;
- Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit;
- Hunting with firearms while under the influence – penalties and procedures are usually the same as with a DUI; and
- Using or possessing a firearm while committing a felony – this can lead to serious enhancements in the event of a conviction.
Sex crimes are among the egregious offenses that can be charged. Convictions for sex crimes can involve severe legal penalties, from time in prison to being forced to register as a sex offender upon release. Even the hint of impropriety, however, can destroy professional and personal lives. The sex crimes category is broad, and ranges from misdemeanor offenses to felony charges. These crimes include, but are not limited to:
- Rape, attempted rape, spousal rape, and statutory rape
- Indecent exposure
- Aggravated sexual battery
- Taking liberties with a minor
- Human trafficking
- Abduction for an immoral purpose
- Possession or distribution of child pornography
Some of the more serious charges, such as child pornography, human trafficking, or conspiring with others to commit sex crimes can be charged as a felony at both the state and federal level. Those found guilty of such offenses face the possibility of many years in state or federal prison.
Convicted sex offenders must immediately register with the Virginia Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry program. Depending upon the severity of the offense and the terms imposed by the court, registry can seriously restrict where a convicted sex offender may live and work. If those convicted of such offenses fail to check in regularly or provide false information they face additional charges and a return to prison.
Warrenton Criminal Defense Lawyer
Warrenton, the county seat and largest town in Fauquier County, is a bustling municipality and one of the most affluent areas in the United States. The picturesque town of approximately 9,000 inhabitants is about an hour drive from Washington, DC at the intersection of Lee Highway and Route 17. To ensure the safety of its residents, Warrenton Police are out on patrol in the streets while Fauquier Sheriff’s Deputies monitor the highways. Any arrests they make are processed at the Adult Detention Center on Lee Street, and cases resulting from such arrests are heard at either the General District or Circuit courts. If you are facing a criminal hearing in Warrenton, call us today at (540) 422-2223 to set up an appointment with a Warrenton criminal defense attorney. Or, you can learn more by visiting the page.
For the convenience of our clients in the Culpeper, Fauquier, Front Royal, Gainesville, Haymarket, Rappahannock and Winchester areas, we have an office located in downtown Warrenton on Waterloo Street.