After you are charged with a crime in Prince William County it is advisable to find effective defense representation to assist you in understanding the charge(s), possible defenses and outcomes. There is a vast array of misdemeanor and felony charges that Virginians face, including those outlined below, along with links to additional information that can help you make a wise choice in deciding who will help defend you. Contact a Prince William County criminal lawyer to discuss your options today.
Experienced Prince William County Criminal Attorney
Criminal offenses are charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanor offenses are generally those for which conviction carries a possible penalty of one year or less in jail. Felony offenses are punishable by more than one year in prison. Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony conviction, you will also likely incur legal penalties such as heavy fines, community service, loss of driver’s license or other restrictions, mandatory counseling or treatment and other terms of probation. Furthermore, a conviction results in a criminal record that can have a profound impact on your personal relationships and professional opportunities. When you hire a Prince William criminal lawyer, you afford yourself a skillful defense backed by extensive courtroom experience.
- Constitutional Issues That May Come Up in Prince William Criminal Cases
- What Needs to Be Proven in Court
- When to Hire An Attorney
- Criminal Charges in Prince William
- What to Expect From the Legal Process in Prince William
- 8 Things to Know About Facing Charges in Prince William
- Biggest Mistakes to Avoid in Prince William Criminal Cases
- Trends in Prince William County Law Enforcement
- What to Look For In A Prince William County Criminal Defense Attorney
Prince William County Criminal Lawyer Cases
Prince William County criminal lawyers represent individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony offense. Experienced defense attorneys at our office handle criminal defense for a broad array of criminal charges, including:
- Prostitution and Solicitation
- Domestic Violence
- Federal Charges
- Sex Crimes
- Reckless Driving
If you are questioned about your involvement in any crime, arrested on a criminal complaint or charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense, it is your right to have an attorney. Contact our office to speak with a Prince William criminal lawyer who can advise you how to best protect your rights and who knows the criminal justice system in Prince William County.
Assault: Crimes Committed Against People
Penalties for these crimes can involve up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines for misdemeanor assault [Section 18.2-57] or 20 years and/or a fine of up to $100,000 for the very serious charge of aggravated malicious wounding [Section 18.2-51.2].
Even the overt threat of harm to another is an assault offense. Most assaults that result in harm to the victim are charged as felonies. If a weapon is involved – especially a firearm – or if the victim is seriously injured, or both, that’s a more serious felony, which carries a significant prison sentence and large fine [Section 18.2-51.2]. Other elements that increase sentences include whether there is a hate crime that is part of the assault [Section 18.2-57(B)] as well as the victim being a protected government employee (police officers, judges, EMTs) [Section 18.2-57(C)].
Domestic violence is another serious assault offense. Some of those penalties are more severe than many traditional assault convictions [Section 18.2-57.2 and 18.2-57.3]. Violation of a protective order is a class 6 felony, with a six-month mandatory minimum jail sentence [Section 16.1-253.2].
Theft: Crimes Involving Property
Theft can range from minor shoplifting [Section 18.2-103] and armed robbery to breaking into a house and stealing valuables. There are several ways to classify each theft offense, starting with what was stolen, and its value. If the item(s) are worth less than $200, it is chargeable as a misdemeanor (petit larceny), but over that amount it’s chargeable as a felony grand larceny.
The most serious theft felonies involve burglary and robbery. Burglary [Section 18.2-89] combines the crimes of theft and breaking and entering. In these cases, the perpetrator seldom ends up confronting the victim. Robbery, on the other hand, is theft by threat of force or actual force. Penalties – especially if an assault occurred – can be especially harsh [Section 18.2-58]. Most of these felony theft crimes generally bring prison sentences of five to 20 years and very expensive fines.
Driving While Intoxicated and Reckless Driving
Drunk driving [Section 18.2-266] and driving under the influence of drugs [Section 18.2-269] are both charged as DUI (specified by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two in the actual complaint) and class I misdemeanors. First-time offenders could face up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500 and lose their driver’s license for at least a year. Repeat offenders who exceed a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 face longer minimum jail times, as do drivers who had minors in the vehicle at the time they committed the offense.
Reckless driving [Sections 46.2-852–865] is a group of charges that pose a greater threat to the general public, drivers and passengers, and property than minor moving violations. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500 and as much as year in jail; though there is no statutory minimum for a first conviction: [Section 46.2-868]. You’ll also incur six demerit points on your Virginia DMV driving record for 11 years. Many of these tickets are issued for speeding (20+ MPH over the limit), dangerous passing, and racing; though there are other serious moving violations that are also covered by this charge.
Both the Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal government aggressively prosecute and sentence drug law violators. Most of the time, they are judicious in separating recreational possession from possession with intent to sell, distribute (or manufacture).
The federal government and the Commonwealth rate drugs – for the purposes of charges and penalties – on their medicinal value and the degree of dependence the substance is likely to have of a person: [Sections 54.1-3446, 54.1-3448, 54.1-3450, 54.1-3452, 54.1-3454, 54.1-3455]. The lower the drug schedule number: the greater the sentence.
Suspects who manufacture, grow or distribute controlled substances in Virginia can be sentenced to many years in state prison [Section 18.2-248] and pay a fine as high as $500,000, depending on the facts of the case. And those who face federal drug crimes such as distribution or conspiring to distribute them could face life in prison without parole. [21 U.S. Code Section 841: (A), (B), (C)].
Most Commonwealth sex crime charges range from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 3 felony, although if additional serious felonies are involved, convicted suspects can receive more than the five-year minimum prison sentence that a class 3 felony brings. These crimes are aggressively pursued by all levels of Commonwealth law enforcement, especially when children are the victims. These include:
- Rape [Section 18.2-61]
- Carnal knowledge of a child between ages thirteen and fifteen [Section 18.2-63],
- Child (minor – under 18) pornography (possession, distribution, production) [Section 18.2-374.1]. This is also the statute that sexting offenses are prosecuted under, even against minors.
Fraud and White-Collar Crime
The majority of fraud offenses are grand larceny by non-violent theft. These include knowingly passing a bad check, which – like all theft crimes – can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the amount of the check [Section 18.2-181]. But if it’s a serious felony with large amounts of money or goods stolen, it can be charged as larceny of bank notes [Section 18.2-98]. Identity fraud (or theft) – with all of our reliance on computers – is becoming a more common criminal charge. Because of this, and depending on the circumstances of the case, it can be charged as either a Commonwealth [Section 18.2-186.3:1] or federal offense [18 U.S. Code Section 1028].
Many other fraud and deception crimes – generally viewed as some form of embezzlement – are federal felonies. The federal government aggressively pursues suspects who commit the following crimes:
- Healthcare fraud [18 U.S. Code Section 1347]
- Tax fraud: [26 U.S. Code Section 7201]
- Securities fraud: [18 U.S. Code Section 1348]
- Identity theft [18 U.S.C. Sections 1028]
- Bankruptcy fraud [18 U.S. Code Section 157]
The Prince William County Judicial System makes up the 31st Virginia Judicial District. It includes the Circuit Court, General District Court, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. The Circuit Court is the highest Trial Court within the County. It seats one chief judge and four presiding judges. The Circuit Court is where felony and all jury trials are conducted.
The Prince William General District Court hears the following types of cases:
- Traffic violations
- Misdemeanor criminal cases that do not involve a jury
- Some preliminary hearings prior to trial in Circuit Court
Reputable Prince William Criminal Lawyer
If you are facing a criminal conviction, you want a lawyer who will closely examine every detail of your case, consider every option for your defense, and leave no stone unturned in finding resources and evidence to best support your case. Prosecutors aggressively fight their cases and push for tougher sentencing in order to take a hard line on crime. The most diligent Prince William criminal lawyers afford every opportunity to resolve your case in dismissal, acquittal, reduced charges, or a minimum sentence. Your attorney should provide solid legal representation in defending clients before the Prince William General District Court, located at 9311 Lee Avenue in Manassas.