While all crimes are treated with a certain level of severity in Manassas, certain offenses have become a focus to local law enforcement officers. The following is information on these specific types of charges and how this could potentially impact you. If you are already facing a criminal charge, call and schedule a consultation with an experienced Manassas criminal lawyer today to begin building your defense.
There are a number of different crimes that are a priority in Manassas beginning with sex crimes, including everything from prostitution to human trafficking. The way that law enforcement cracks down on this is by investing significant resources into setting up sting operations. There is ever-increasing enforcement and resources being poured into expanding enforcement capabilities. Similarly, there is a high degree of focus on the drug trade. Law enforcement is always utilizing undercover officers, sting operations and surveillance – all the tools at their disposal to monitor and attempt to catch those who are trafficking drugs.
Another area which is always an area of focus is DUIs because they are a public safety issue. Their focus on that seems to be always increasing. One of the main ways they crack down on this is by setting up checkpoints all over the county, which we see frequently. In addition to that, they invest a lot of effort and resources into training officers on how to conduct DUI stops and how to gather evidence and training prosecutors on how to prosecute these cases.
It is certainly true that in their zeal to enforce certain laws, law enforcement will charge innocent people from time to time. Much of this has to do with the tendency on the part of law enforcement to sometimes see innocent behavior as criminal behavior because they so frequently deal with the criminal element and real crimes.
One of the ways an attorney can help under these circumstances is in sifting out actual evidence the prosecution and the police have against an individual which might show their guilt, from evidence which can be explained by innocent means or which actually points to some activity other than criminal activity.
A person always needs an advocate in the court system because the police and the prosecution will attempt to prove your guilt at every turn. People who are charged with crimes need an advocate who can show that someone was not guilty or the situation was different than it appeared. The court can then be aware of that when it makes a decision.
One of the charges that Manassas tends to treat more seriously and more firmly than some other jurisdictions are shoplifting and larceny offenses. This has mostly to do with the fact that there a large number of retailers present in Prince William County including the shopping mall Potomac Mills. Unlike many other jurisdictions, where there is frequently a first-offender program available on first-time shoplifting charges, Prince William County will almost always seek jail time as part of any deal where a person wishes to have the charge either amended to a lesser charge or dismissed.
Whenever the prosecutors are focused on a particular kind of case and wishing to punish it more harshly, it affects every aspect of the case. It affects plea bargains from the standpoint that the plea bargains offers are not going to be as favorable on particular charges in Manassas or that there are more hoops the defendant will have to jump through in order to get a favorable plea bargain.
It also makes it far more likely that a case will need to be tried in court if the prosecution never makes a good offer. Under those circumstances, a person will need to be sure to have an experienced trial lawyer, because the likelihood that their case will need to be resolved by a judge rather than by prior agreement with the Commonwealth goes up dramatically.
The main problem with the court system as it currently operates is that there is a huge imbalance of resources between the government and the defendant. On the government’s side is the prosecutor’s office, the police department, forensics labs and really the whole weight and resources of the government, which can work together to attempt to convict an individual.
On the individual’s side, sometimes people cannot even afford to have counsel and must instead rely on overworked public defenders who can dedicate very little time or resources to defending the case. A potential solution to this would include dedicating more public resources to public defenders and court-appointed officers so that the scales can be balanced to give defendants a better opportunity for a fair hearing of their case, particularly when they have limited resources.
For the time being, however, the only way to balance those scales and to get the resources on your side that you need to make it a fair fight is to hire a law firm dedicated to doing criminal defense work. A firm has resources and investigators at its disposal and has the experience and know-how to offset the very significant resources that are on the government’s side.
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