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When charged with a crime in Richmond, or anywhere in Virginia, a person faces serious repercussions from the moment of the arrest. You could lose your freedom, maybe immediately. Large fines and long prison sentences could lie on the other side of your conviction. Other consequences can last even longer as the conviction becomes part of your criminal record. Your good job might be threatened, and it could be hard to find another. This means financial opportunities that were once easily available may be suddenly closed to you, such as good interest rates for loans and access to preferred housing. Even some government benefits may no longer be available to you.
This is why anyone charged with a crime in Virginia needs to visit an experienced lawyer at their earliest opportunity for counsel and to develop aggressive defense strategies that can keep them from having to live with the fallout from any of the following criminal charges, and many others that are not listed below.
Reckless Driving and DUI/DUID
Reckless driving can be any of the 13 most dangerous moving violations [Virginia Criminal Code Section 46.2-852 (through 865)] and is charged as a class 1 misdemeanor. This could land you in jail. Incarceration can be up to a year, in addition to a fine as high as $2,500: And there are circumstances that can make your incarceration (and fine) even worse if your reckless behavior behind the wheel seriously injures or kills someone. There is also an additional $250 fine for texting if you were also ticketed for driving recklessly. And all convictions come with a driver’s license suspension of up to six months.
Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or drugs (DUID)are both charged as DUI. These, too, are class 1 misdemeanors and are penalized just like reckless driving. However, instead of a six-month driver’s license suspension, convictions for DUI/DUID carry a one year license suspension for a first offense, higher for subsequent convictions. Repeat convictions and drivers who are ticketed for DUI/DUID with a minor in the vehicle face minimum jail sentences that can be as high as 12 months. In many cases – especially with a second conviction – once your driver’s license is returned to you (or if you are successful in getting a restricted license), an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) must be placed on your vehicle and will remain there for at least six months.
Assault and Battery
These are violent “crimes against persons” that involve physical confrontation – or the threat or it. Misdemeanor assaults convictions can bring a penalty ranging from simply probation to up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. Other assault offenses include:
- Aggravated malicious wounding (which brings a mandatory prison sentence [Section 18.2-51.2]
- Domestic assault against a family or household member. Depending on the seriousness of the victim’s injuries, and/or if it is a repeat offense, it can be charged as high as a class 2 felony, with large fine and up to 20 years in prison [Section 18.2-10(b)].
- If the assault is a hate crime [Section 18.2-57(B)]) or committed against a protected government employee (police officers, judges or EMT’s) [Section 18.2-57(C)], it’s charged as a class 6 felony.
Theft, Robbery and Burglary
These are classified as “crimes against property,” though there can be enhanced penalties if any theft offense is committed as a crime against another person (assaults). Referred to as “larceny,” all theft-related offenses can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies:
- Misdemeanor (petit) larceny [Section 18.2-96] results in the victim losing money or items worth less than $200. Most shoplifting offenses [Section 18.2-103] are prosecuted under this classification.
- Felony (grand) larceny [Section 18.2-95] is charged if the stolen items are worth $200 or more.
Robbery is a theft that usually involves physical confrontation, typically when the suspect uses a weapon (accompanied by at least the threat of harm to the victim). However, use of a weapon is not necessary for a person to be convicted of robbery. Prison sentences can be quite high for robbery convictions, usually beginning at five years [Section 18.2-58]. However, if an aggravated assault (with a weapon, or if the victim is seriously injured) a 20-year prison sentence is not an unreasonable expectation.
Burglary, on the other hand, combines the offenses of theft (or a crime of violence) and breaking and entering. Burglars who break and enter with the intent to steal presumably prefer to not confront their victims, though sometimes it can’t be avoided. Nevertheless, most burglaries are prosecuted as class 3 felonies. However, if the burglar confronts the victims and has a firearm, it’s a class 2 felony, meaning that more time could be added to a prison sentence that makes the offense punishable by as much as 20 years, plus a fine closer to $100,000 [Section 18.2-89].
Different types – and possessed amounts – of controlled substances or marijuana can draw a variety of penalties [Section 18.2-250 & 251.1]. Those who manufacture, sell or distribute controlled substances in the Commonwealth can expect a prison sentence from 10 to 40 years [Section 18.2-248] and pay a fine six-figure fine, depending on the specifics of the case. If the drug charge is federal a crime, such as trafficking or distribution across state lines, life sentences without parole are not uncommon [21 U.S. Code Section 841 (A), (B), (C)].
Sexual offenses can be charged as either a state or federal crime, again depending on the facts of the case. If violence is associated with any sex offense, the assault (and seriousness of the victim’s injuries) can land the perpetrator in state prison for many years, up to life. Some of the more commonly charged Virginia sex crimes involve:
- Rape [Section 18.2-61] or attempted rape [Section 18.2-67.5] (both violent crimes that come with assault penalty enhancements that make the prison sentence longer)
- Aggravated sexual battery [Section 18.2-67.3], if any of the following is true:
- The victim is under 13 years old, or there is more than four years’ age difference between the suspect and the minor victim (who is under 18)
- The sexual abuse occurs when the suspect exploits the victim’s mental incapacity or physical helplessness
- The suspect’s conduct is against the will of the victim through the use of force
- Taking indecent liberties with a minor [Section 18.2-370]. (In other states, this would be charged as statutory rape, an offense that is not outlined in Virginia’s Criminal Code)
- Production, distribution or possession of child pornography [Section 18.2-374.1]
Some of the above sex crimes can also be charged as a federal felony, especially those involving human trafficking for the purposes of prostitution or production or distribution of child pornography. They come with longer jail sentences and higher fines than their Virginia counterparts. Anyone who is convicted of any sex crime (state and/or federal) must register as a sex offender [Section 9.1-902] and [42 US Code Section 16913].
Fraud and White-Collar Crime
Common Virginia white-collar crimes (theft) involve embezzlement [Section 18.2-111], employee theft of goods or money. This crime can be charged as either as felony or misdemeanor embezzlement. Another category of while collar crime involves theft through the use of forged or bad checks (also as petit or grand larceny) [Section 18.2-181]. Forging another’s signature on a check is a class 5 felony [Section 18.2-172].
The federal government also aggressively pursues healthcare [18 U.S. Code Section 1347], income tax [26 U.S. Code Section 7201] and securities fraud [18 U.S. Code Section 1348]. Identity theft is also hotly pursued in both federal [18 U.S.C. Section 1028] and Commonwealth [Section 18.2-186.3] courts. Bankruptcy fraud [when federal investigators believe petitioners are hiding assets from creditors (and fraudulently using the court to do it).
Consult with a Richmond Criminal Defense Attorney
Because of the serious consequences that criminal charges can have on your freedom and your reputation, it’s crucial to contact an experienced Richmond criminal lawyer as soon as you’re charged. Whether your case is relatively cut-and-dry or extremely complicated, an attorney from our firm can sit down with you to develop a defense strategy tailored to your individual circumstances. Call our team today to receive your free, no-commitment consultation.