Virginia Criminal Law Proceedings
Provided by HG.org
When a person is facing criminal charges in Virginia, it is crucial to know what laws affect the proceedings and how to defend against the allegations. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is usually the first step in fighting the charges in the courtroom, and with his or her assistance, chances of success usually rise significantly.
The severity of a crime usually determines the available sentencing the individual may face if he or she acquires a conviction in the courtroom. The severity may also alter what occurs if the person committed a misdemeanor or a felony. Each has different levels, and there are aggravating factors that may apply to increase possible penalties. This is different from civil cases in that the defendant will face justice through the legal system that may place him or her behind bars. Other penalties may include rehabilitation, fines and repayment plans that could include community service.
Misdemeanors in Virginia
Within the state of Virginia, a person may face up to twelve months in jail for a misdemeanor offense. Usually an arrest warrant or summons to the court issues to the individual. These crimes may include petty theft, shoplifting, simple assault writing bad checks, possession of marijuana and driving drunk. The lower level drunk driving through a driving under the influence or DUI may lead to further penalties such as a revoked or suspended license and increased insurance premiums. These cases generally go through the District Court or the General District Court. If the person is below eighteen, in usual circumstances, he or she may face Juvenile Court. The Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court may take part in the proceedings when it is a family member or person under eighteen depending on the circumstances.
When a person commits a lesser crime or one with less severity or level, he or she usually commits a misdemeanor. These usually only cause minor sentencing with up to hundreds in fines and up to only one year in jail. If the misdemeanor is closer to a felony, the person may see thousands in fines and more than one year in jail. However, this usually happens when there are multiple charges or a higher severity attached such as aggravating factors. The person usually needs to follow the same procedure as with felony crimes, and a lawyer is still beneficial to prevent the worst sentencing or conviction.
Felony Charges in Virginia
The most serious of all crimes committed are felonies. These may require more than a single year in prison, and the individual may face severe fines. These crimes include grand larceny or theft, breaking and entering into a property, most drug violations, assault, battery, rape, robbery crimes and the murder of another person. Most that face these charges have an arrest warrant issued by local law enforcement. These often progress to criminal courts in Virginia with the need for a criminal defense lawyer. Conviction may lead to life-altering consequences that may include life in prison with serious enough charges.
The Court Process for Criminal Law
Probable cause is important in criminal proceedings. The judge needs to determine if there is enough evidence to continue on to trial based on what the prosecution gathers. There must be a strong belief in the evidence for the judge to consider that the defendant committed an offense charged against him or her. This occurs through a preliminary hearing. Then, it may go to the grand jury and sent to the Circuit Court. This is the court to hold a full trial for a felony case. Additionally, the person accused of a felony crime is not sent to jail unless he or she has violated the bond conditions. This is often different outside of Virginia.
While misdemeanor charges often only handle through a judge determining if the person is guilty or not, felonies often have a full trial case in the courtroom. The presence of the accused is necessary, or he or she may face a guilty verdict by default. Each person in the state has a right to plead not guilty even if the evidence is overwhelming. However, it is important to have a lawyer to defend against the allegations.
The Criminal Law Lawyer in Virginia
To defend against possible prison terms and extensive fines, the accused needs a criminal defense lawyer in Virginia when facing a trial case. The charges may require someone with experience and knowledge to create and implement a defense strategy for pleas of not guilty.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.