There are different levels of driving violations in Fairfax that all drivers on the road should be aware of. The most serious offenses are charged as felonies but there are some less serious offenses that still carry harsh penalties. Many infractions do not come with the potential for jail time but they can be expensive and are usually kept on record. If you are facing one of these penalties, call a Fairfax traffic infractions lawyer to advocate for you. A competent traffic attorney could help defend you in court and prevent the infraction from turning into something worse.
Traffic offenses can be charged at varying levels in Fairfax County. Serious traffic offenses can be charged as felonies. However, they can also be charged as misdemeanors, traffic infractions, or county code violations.
In Virginia, a misdemeanor is punishable as a crime, which means that it is reported on one’s criminal record. It can lead to an arrest and carries a possible jail sentence. A traffic infraction is simply a ticket for a violation of a traffic law and does not include a jail sentence.
Any time an officer writes a ticket for speeding less than 20 miles per hour over the posted limit, that is a speeding infraction. Sometimes police officers will charge someone who has been speeding with other infractions such as failure to obey a highway sign.
Traffic infractions are punishable by a maximum of a $250 fine unless there is some heightened reason for a heftier fine such as speeding through a construction zone, a school zone, or some other violation. Smaller infractions can also be punishable by set fines as defined in the law. For example, failing to wear a seatbelt is a mandatory $25 fine. A local lawyer could make sure that the punishment matches the driving infraction that was reported.
If a police officer writes a ticket for an infraction, it is unlikely for that infraction to be elevated to a misdemeanor later in court. However, there are some reasons why this could happen. For example, if a police officer measures someone’s speed at more than 20 miles an hour over the speed limit, they have the discretion to write a ticket for speeding instead of reckless driving – but if that case has been contested in court, the commonwealth attorney could amend the infraction back up to the reckless driving misdemeanor. A seasoned attorney in the area could ensure that a simple traffic infraction does not get upgraded to a misdemeanor.
There are several places that traffic infraction cases are heard in Fairfax County. If someone is pulled over in Vienna, Herndon, or Fairfax City, they would report to specific courthouses in those municipalities if they wish to contest their traffic tickets. If someone is pulled over in the General County of Fairfax, their cases are heard at the Fairfax County Courthouse on Chain Bridge Road.
If someone is convicted of a traffic infraction, they have only 10 days to appeal that infraction to the Circuit Court in Fairfax County. In order to appeal an infraction, they must go to the clerk’s office and file the appeal paperwork. Anyone who has been convicted of a traffic offense has the right to appeal for a completely new trial in the Circuit Court.
It can be difficult to know whether a traffic offense should be treated as a misdemeanor, infraction, or county code violation. Most people do not know the distinctions between the alleged offenses, so it is wise to speak with a Fairfax traffic infractions lawyer who could advise you on your best options. To see if a lawyer could help you, place a call today.
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