According to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department, the county has seen a steady decline in the number of crimes committed between 2012 and 2014. Some might assume that this means you are less likely to be charged, or that law enforcement will adopt a more relaxed approached to those suspected of certain criminal offenses. This, however, could not be further from the truth. Criminal offenses receive unrelenting scrutiny and charges can result in catastrophic damage to your personal and professional life. Prison terms and exorbitant fines are only a few of the negative consequences that you may face if convicted of a criminal offense in the region. If you have been charged, you will need to speak with a Loudoun County criminal lawyer about your best options for a legal defense. In the meantime, however, you can use the following information as a general guide to some of the mostly charged criminal offenses.
Loudoun Criminal Lawyers Handle These Cases
Additional information is available on the following kinds of criminal charges in Loudoun County:
Assault in Loudoun County
Assault charges can result if you are accused of inflicting bodily harm or merely threatening the victim with harm. In general terms, assault is defined as the threat or use of force that causes the victim to have “reasonable apprehension” of imminent harmful contact. See Title 18.2, Chapter 4, Section 18.2-57 of the Virginia Code.
As a Loudoun County criminal lawyer can tell you, there are several levels of assault. General categories include simple assault or simple assault and battery, both of which are Class 1 misdemeanors and can result in up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. If, however, the victim was intentionally chosen by the accused based on the victim’s race, religious beliefs, color, or national origin, they face harsher penalties, including a 30-day mandatory minimum jail term. See Section 18.2-57(A). Other groups that receive special notation in the criminal code include:
- Correction officers and employees
- Firefighters and emergency personnel
- Teachers and school administrators or staff
Generally speaking, the level of harm or fear suffered by the suspect will determine the seriousness of the charge. Assault charges can range from misdemeanors, as previously noted, to felonies. Penalties can therefore range from a few hundred dollars to many years in prison.
Theft-Related Charges in Loudoun
Theft in the Commonwealth can be as minor as misdemeanor shoplifting or a very serious allegation of robbery or burglary, both of which are felonies. Punishments can run from a fine of several hundreds of dollars and a few days in jail, if the theft involved an item of relatively minor value and it was a first offense, to five to 20 years in prison, for robberies that incorporate the use of guns or other deadly weapons and if a victim as seriously injured. Theft crimes in Loudoun County, like the rest of the Commonwealth, are divided into three general categories:
Petit and Grand Larceny
The value of the items stolen, and the manner in which they were taken, will largely determine which category or charge you may face. Larceny is further divided into two categories: petit larceny and grand larceny. Items that are stolen and valued at more than $200 generally result in a charge of grand larceny, where items that are valued at less than $200 are classified as petit larceny. If the item is worth $5 or more and it is taken directly from an individual, grand larceny may be charged.
There are, however, exceptions. If a gun is stolen – regardless of its value – from any place, grand larceny may be charged. Petit larceny is a misdemeanor and can result in up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. Grand larceny is a felony offense and can result in one to 20 years in prison. If, however, you are charged with grand larceny and convicted, your attorney can ask for the court or jury to use its discretion and lower the penalty to up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
A Loudoun criminal lawyer can also work with you to avoid the long-term consequences of a theft conviction, which may impact your reputation and employment.
Robbery involves a theft and the use of force, or the threat of force. An individual maybe found guilty of robbery if they commit a theft through:
- Violence, such as choking, beating, or striking the victim
- Assault, in which the victim is in fear of serious bodily harm
- And threats to use a gun, or brandishing a gun or other deadly weapon.
Penalties for robbery offenses range from five years to life in prison. See Code Section 18.2-58. A Loudoun County criminal lawyer can fight to get robbery charges reduced to larceny charges by arguing that the prosecution would not be able to prove the assault element of the case.
Drug-Related Charges in Loudoun County
With the exception of small amounts of marijuana or very small amounts of some controlled substances, drug possession can result in a felony offense in Loudoun County, Va. Circumstances that determine the seriousness of the charge include the amount possessed and the drug’s classification (on a scale of I to VI, with one being the most pernicious and six being the least harmful). Also at play is whether police and prosecutors are claiming the suspect simply possessed the drugs for their own use, or if there are claims that the suspect had the intention of distributing or selling the drugs or narcotics. For a list of controlled substances by schedule/class, check out the U.S. Department of Justice’s pdf here. It’s important to note that though the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, the Commonwealth’s laws are narrowly tailored to cannabis and treat it as its own category of a controlled substance. In addition, a Loudoun County criminal lawyer may be able to help in seeking alternative sentencing for first-time drug charges.
Drug charges in Loudoun County, Va. can include:
- Possession of marijuana (less than a half ounce is a misdemeanor, but more can result in a a felony offense);
- Possession of any controlled dangerous or Class I substance, including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines;
- Prescription forgery or fraud;
- Growing marijuana or manufacturing another controlled substance, like methamphetamine; and
- Distribution of drugs, which can result in federal charges if distributed across state lines.
Minor possession of drugs can be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor; with punishment of up to $2,500 fine and as much as 12 months in jail for a first offense. But for a major distributor, the punishment is five to 40 years in prison and a fine up to $500,000. For those who manufacture and/or distribute Class 1 drugs, the penalty is a mandatory five years in prison and can include as much as a life sentence for subsequent convictions.
Gun Charges in Loudoun County
Though Virginians are not unreasonably restricted in their ability to carry firearms, they are expected to obey the laws governing their possession and use. When they are accused of violating the Commonwealth’s gun codes, the state is usually quite aggressive in its prosecution.
Other violations include:
- Pointing, holding, or brandishing a gun in public
- Recklessly leaving guns accessible to children
- Willfully discharging a firearm in public spaces
- Discharging a firearm from a vehicle.
Penalties for those offenses can range from 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 to one to 10 years in prison and/or the same fine.
When guns are used during the commission of other crimes, sentencing enhancements may apply.
Loudoun County Sex Crimes
Not many criminal charges have more serious repercussions on someone’s life than those involved alleged sex crimes. Conviction will lead to life-altering consequences, but even those who are found not guilty, or acquitted of such charges, can suffer extensive and possibly irreparable damage to their personal and professional reputation.
Sex crime convictions can mean many years – possibly even a lifetime – of sex offender registration after release from prison. Those required to register may be severely restricted in where they can live and work. They may be barred from access to children, including their own children or children within their family. An experienced Loudoun criminal lawyer can help prepare you for the criminal proceedings and discuss your options with you.
Some of the more common Virginia sex crime charges can include:
- Child molestation
- Child pornography (possession, production, distribution)
- Solicitation of a minor (including Internet solicitation)
- Sexual battery
- Rape (including statutory rape, attempted rape, and spousal rape)
Punishments for those found guilty of sex crimes in Virginia are severe and usually involve mandatory minimum prison terms. Certain offenses, such as possession or transmission of child pornography over the internet, can result in federal charges and equally harsh sentences.
A Loudoun County Criminal Lawyer Can Help
If you are facing criminal charges in Loudoun County, Virginia, it is important to stay calm. Consult with a Loudoun County criminal attorney to discuss your options and learn more about what you are facing.