The right to appeal an unfavorable or unjust ruling in a criminal case is at the heart of our criminal justice system. In Virginia there are two categories of criminal appeal: appeals to circuit courts from lower courts, and appeals from circuit courts to higher courts. After briefly touching on the latter, this article will serve as a guide to the former: criminal appeals from district courts to circuit courts in Virginia.
Appeals from circuit courts in Virginia. Rulings by city or county circuit courts in Virginia may be appealed (depending on the area of law) to the Virginia Court of Appeals or Virginia Supreme Court. In those circumstances, the circuit court judgment remains in effect until and unless the appellate court decides to vacate or reverse the lower court’s decision. A relatively small percentage of criminal cases actually go through this level of appeal. … Read More »
Attorney websites and blogs often provide instruction to you, the potential client, on what you need to do: what you need to expect in a particular jurisdiction or from a particular charge, how you need to dress, how you need to find a lawyer, and on and on. So this article, like the dreaded “selfie,” turns the focus away from you and onto us—the legal professionals. If you have hired an attorney to defend you against criminal or traffic charges, you should hold them to certain standards with regard to how they handle your case. Here are five things you should expect from your criminal attorney:
Responsiveness. You shouldn’t know more about the process in your case than your attorney. A criminal attorney who is annoyed that their client has questions has probably lost sight of this simple fact. If you have a question, you … Read More »
Are you facing traffic or misdemeanor charges in Prince William County General District Court? If so, this article is for you. I will provide some tips for handling your case, while hopefully helping you decide whether you should hire an attorney. (If you are charged with a felony, my advice is to have an attorney whether you retain one or accept a court-appointed attorney).
Tip #1: Be early and be attentive. The General District Court (“GDC”) in Prince William County hears matters at 9:00 a.m., and occasionally at 10:30 a.m. There are two entrances to the courthouse, but 99% of the people use the main entrance. This can cause a delay in appearing in court when you factor in time for finding parking. 9:00 a.m. is when the judge is scheduled to take the bench, not the time when you should arrive on the courthouse grounds. Once … Read More »
The DUI lawyers at Livesay & Myers have years of experience in aggressively defending clients against DUI and DWI drunk driving charges in Northern Virginia. Our DUI attorneys in Fairfax, Fredericksburg and Manassas can help you fight the charges against you, in order to win an acquittal or at least minimize the potential damage to your liberty and livelihood. In addition to potential jail time and court fines, conviction on DUI or DWI charges could impact your career, security clearance and insurance costs. The stakes are too high in these cases for you to go it alone—you need representation by experienced DUI attorneys.
What Constitutes DUI or DWI Drunk Driving in Virginia?
For Virginia residents, or anyone driving in Virginia, what exactly constitutes drinking and driving as a criminal offense?
First things first: if you have consumed any alcohol and need to get to another location, … Read More »
For a small number of specific offenses, Virginia law allows a person accused of committing a first violation to avoid trial and receive a dismissal of the charge—with something called a “deferred disposition.”
In a deferred disposition of a criminal charge in Virginia, several things happen: (a) the judge takes a plea (which can be guilty, not guilty or no contest); (b) the judge determines that the facts would be sufficient for a finding of guilt; (c) the judge, with the agreement of the defendant, withholds an actual finding of guilt for some set length of time; (d) the defendant is placed on some form of probation to complete some terms and conditions; and (e) if the conditions are satisfied, the judge will dismiss the charge at some future date.
Offenses eligible for deferred disposition in Virginia include the most commonly known “first offender” programs, such as:
Underage … Read More »
In 2013, instant interpersonal contact no longer means face-to-face or telephone contact with another person. Text messaging and social media have made nonpersonal instant communications commonplace. I confess, I have sent a message to my wife through a text or via social media while she was in another room in our house. But the modern prevalence of this technology also makes fraud easier than ever before. You may not know what the terms “catfishing” and “spoofing” are, but the chances are high that you’ve heard of Manti T’eo and his “fake girlfriend.” We often mock those who are fooled by people using fake Facebook or Twitter accounts and falsified e-mail addresses, and we shake our heads in disdain at those perpetrating the fraud—but we often place these things in the category of prank, rather than crime. At the end of … Read More »
In my last blog posting, I provided a short overview of several new laws that take effect in Virginia on July 1, 2013. Rarely have I received so many questions as I did regarding the new law in Virginia against texting while driving– from colleagues, friends and family. There is little argument that distracted driving can be dangerous, and that the proliferation of smartphones in the hands of drivers raises legitimate public safety concerns. But, is the Virginia ban on texting while driving the solution? And what exactly is prohibited by the new law?
In this article, I will address the most important aspects of the new Virginia law against texting while driving, including the many questions raised or left open by the statute, before offering up my educated guess as to how things will most likely play out with the … Read More »
In its latest session, the Virginia General Assembly passed many new laws that will affect Virginia residents– most of which go into effect on July 1, 2013. Here are brief summaries of five that might interest or impact you the most:
Texting While Driving. As of July 1st, Virginia Code Section 46.2-1078.1 will make it a traffic infraction punishable by a $125 fine to “[m]anually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person” or “[r]ead any email or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device, provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any name or number stored within the device nor to any caller identification information.” Exceptions are carved out for texting while lawfully parked or stopped, or using a GPS. Prior to this new law going into effect, … Read More »
The most important role of a parent is in the instruction of a child so that he or she may enter adulthood as a well-adjusted and contributing member of society. One of the biggest frustrations of many parents is finding the appropriate method for disciplining a child. Does corporal punishment play a role in modern parenting? Is spanking legal in Virginia? If it is legal, are there clear boundaries in the law so that parents do not commit a crime in disciplining their children?
Dictionary.com defines corporal punishment as “physical punishment, as spanking, inflicted on a child by an adult in authority.” Spanking is a legal form of discipline from a parent to a child. However, not all spankings are created equal. Parents who use physical punishment to discipline their children can sometimes be charged with assault and battery of a family or household member, in … Read More »
Have you ever felt that there is never a cop around when someone else is violating a traffic law, but the one time you go slightly above the speed limit or make a rolling stop through a stop sign, there’s sure to be an officer watching? An officer who just can’t wait to pull you over and write a ticket?
Traffic violations are often no respecter of persons. Many fine, upstanding, law-abiding citizens receive them. They are not generally a reflection on one’s moral quality. But it feels that way when we receive them, and we want to have a way to redeem ourselves to avoid the stain of that mark against our driving record. We don’t want the points, and we don’t want the insurance premium increase.
So instead of prepaying the offense, we take time from work or school, we … Read More »