Fairfax Criminal Lawyer Articles

Faraji A. Rosenthall has been educating the public and clients alike through online articles about common legal topics and through the distribution of free educational downloads.

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What Does a Reckless Driving Ticket in Fairfax County Cost?

Reckless Driving Ticket Cost Is reckless driving a traffic or criminal offense, and what’s the average cost ofthe ticket in Fairfax County? We’ve all heard that in order to drive safely, we must drive defensively. Does this mean that there are more reckless drivers on the road than responsible ones, and what does it actually mean to drive recklessly? Reckless driving is defined as intentionally driving in a careless manner with blatant disregard for life, property or limb. Typically when someone is driving recklessly, they’re operating a vehicle in a manner that could cause serious harm to passengers and other drivers on the road. This behavior places the public at risk, and as a result, it’s plausible why Virginia penalizes the crime so heavily. Some good examples of reckless driving include: The driver continues driving, even when signaled by an officer to stop. The driver exceeds the posted speed limit by over 20 MPH. The driver ignores a red light or other traffic signals. The driver ignores an emergency vehicle, school bus, or railroad warning. The driver ignores rules to slow down when dangerous conditions arise. The driver is maneuvering a vehicle with faulty brakes. The driver races on a public roadway. The Consequences of Reckless Driving Now that we have a better idea of what constitutes reckless driving, is it labelled a crime? In the state of Virginia, this act is sort of a quasi-crime.  It is listed as a crime, but is heard in traffic court in Fairfax.  Additionally, while a conviction will appear on your court and driving records, it will usually not appear on your... read more

Petit Theft and Petit Larceny in Virginia

What Are The Consequences Of Petit Theft In Fairfax County? What are the laws regarding petit theft and shoplifting in the state of Virginia, and more specifically in Fairfax County? Learn how a lawyer can help to dismiss charges, or get alternative sentencing for this misdemeanor offense. Definitions& Elements of the Crime Petit theft is also known as shoplifting, petit larceny or larceny, and it’s defined as: When someone steals money from someone in-person, and it’s valued at less than $5. When someone steals goods or services valued at less than $200. One of the common denominators of this crime is to prove intent. Petit larceny is also considered to be a Class 1 misdemeanor. What Are The Penalties for Petit Theft? The possible penalties for petit theft include up to $2,500 and/or up to one year in jail, for first time offenders. Grand theft convicts on the other hand, face up to 20 years imprisonment. In addition to these fines, the defendant may be ordered to pay victim restitution to the owner, in the amount of the value of goods stolen, and litigation fees initially paid by the petitioner or retail store owner. By now readers may realize that any other theft besides petit larceny is considered grand theft. Grand theft is the deliberate stealing of goods or services worth more than $200. There are also other types of larcenies outlined by Virginia law, which include the theft of animals or poultry, theft of bank notes; theft of public records; or embezzlement as a few examples. How Is Shoplifting Different From Theft? Shoplifting is considered to be the... read more

Consequences of Possessing Cocaine under Virginia Law

The Top Consequences of Possessing Cocaine in Fairfax County What are you facing if you’re found in possession of cocaine in Fairfax, County, Virginia? Read more here. Possession of cocaine is considered to be a felony offense, and the penalties consist of up to ten years imprisonment, and up to $2500 in fines. However, offenders rarely see jail time in actuality.  Unless you have a particularly bad record, probation without incarceration is likely.  Additionally, if you have never been arrested for a drug charge before you will be eligible for first offender disposition. Under a first offender disposition, you are required to complete probation for either 12 or 24 months, drug awareness classes, pay court costs and also have your driver’s license suspended for 6 months.  If you successfully complete all these requirements and stay out of further legal trouble, your case will be dismissed at the end.  Additionally, the way the program is set up you avoid a conviction.  While there will be a blemish on your record if you are applying for school or a job, you can check “no” to the question have you ever been convicted of crime. Defenses The top defenses to fight a cocaine possession charge in Fairfax County include: Defendant Was Unaware – the cocaine did not belong to you, and you were not aware of its existence. In other words, you were setup. Illegal Search and Seizure – some jurisdictions require that a court issued search warrant is in effect before a search and seizure is performed. Otherwise, the evidence is usually dismissed in court. Police Entrapment – were you the... read more

Should You Take a Driver Improvement Class Before Your Court Date for Reckless Driving?

Should you take a driving improvement course before your Reckless Court date? Fairfax County judges will not order people to complete a driver improvement class.  This happens in many other jurisdictions in Virginia, but the volume of cases handled by the Fairfax court makes monitoring completion unfeasible. Instead you can take the class on your own, either before or after court.  This may make sense in some cases, in others it can actually have a negative impact. The biggest reasons to take a class are to improve your driving record demerit point balance and to show the judge that you are taking the matter seriously. In order to know whether you should take a class you first need to know how the Virginia demerit point system works and also your personal point balance. In Virginia, all drivers start out with a zero point balance when they first get their drivers licenses.  Every year that you drive without a ticket you get a positive point.  Positive points are capped at 5, meaning a balance of +5 is considered a perfect score.  Every time you are convicted of a driving violation (including tickets that you pay before court), you receive a reduction in the number of points associated with that ticket.  (Review the DMV website for information about the demerit point value of various infractions.) So for example, if you first received your license two years ago and have never gotten a ticket your score would be a +2.  Typically any positive score is considered a good record.  Then if you were convicted of Reckless Driving you would have your score... read more

Reckless Driving Ticket Options in Fairfax, Virginia

Reckless Driving Ticket Options Can you pay for a reckless driving ticket in Fairfax and forget about it? Learn the rules and regulations regarding reckless driving here. A reckless driving ticket isn’t a simple pay-and-go traffic offense. It’s technically a  criminal offense and you’ll need to go to court. This isn’t as scary as it seems, but it does change the process somewhat.  You can’t simply pay before court. You can hire a lawyer who can appear on your behalf, but you will need to make sure you either go or have a lawyer go for you.  A judge may just give you a fine if you fail to appear, however it is possible they issue a warrant for your arrest.  This typically only happens at very high speeds, with very dangerous driving behavior or if your record is exceptionally bad. In terms of options, some recommendations include: Plea Bargains – ask a lawyer if you should pursue a plea bargain, and if successful, the charge may be dismissed or lowered to an improper driving offense. This isn’t a crime, but a civil infraction. Pleading not guilty – Virginia outlines many ways that a reckless driving arrest can take place. Drivers can challenge the evidence. As an example, if you were charged with reckless driving through speeding, a speedometer calibration can be completed to prove that you were driving within limits, and that you were not driving recklessly. The average cost of a reckless driving ticket or fine varies, but is between about $100-300.  The fine is not really the biggest concern as there’s a good chance you’ll end... read more

Former Fairfax Prosecutor Discusses Virginia’s Possession With Intent to Distribute (PWID) Cocaine Laws

Possession with the Intent to Distribute (or PWID) Cocaine Drug charges are serious offenses in Virginia. One drug offense heavily pursued and prosecuted in Fairfax County Virginia is possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, sometimes known as PWID cocaine. Selling or even just having while intending to sell cocaine is criminalized under Virginia statute 18.2-248. Critically, the PWID statute also illegalizes the manufacturing, possession with the intent manufacture and even the gifting of cocaine. This means that a person can be charged with PWID for giving or even intending to give cocaine to another for free. Punishment for a PWID cocaine conviction varies in Virginia depending on the number of prior offenses and the amount of cocaine involved. A first time conviction carries a sentence of between five and forty years and a fine of up to $500,000. Upon a second conviction, the sentence runs from five years to life, carries a fine up to $500,000 and imposes a three year mandatory minimum sentence. The sentence for the third-offense is essentially the same as that for a second offense, except it carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years. In some circumstances, a PWID involving more than 500 grams of cocaine can also result in a mandatory minimum of 5 years. PWID involving a kilogram or more of cocaine carries a mandatory minimum of twenty years. What is Required to Prove PWID? The good news is that Virginia actually has a relatively high bar of proof when it comes to PWID cocaine. Like with a drug possession case, the Commonwealth’s Attorney must convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt... read more

Former Fairfax Prosecutor Discusses Virginia’s Possession With Intent to Distribute Marijuana Laws

Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana Possession with Intent to Distribute (or PWID) marijuana is an unusual charge in that it can cover a lot of different types of behaviors. The law distinguishes between felony and misdemeanor cases based upon the quantity of marijuana involved.  Anything below a ½ ounce is categorized as a misdemeanor.  Anything above is classified as a Felony.  There are also enhanced penalties when the amount in question is 5 pounds or more. However, just having a quantity over ½ ounce isn’t enough to automatically establish that a person is guilty of a felony, or guilty of intent to distribute at all.  There needs to be other evidence of a person’s intent.  Even the way the marijuana is packaged is only a factor that can be used to determine guilt.  There are a number of cases that say that even if the weed is in several separate baggies there must be some evidence that the Defendant was planning to sell in that manner.  This is because the law has said that it is just as likely that the person chose to purchase a number of individually wrapped baggies.  Even having a scale is only a contributing factor, as it can also be argued that the arrested party was using the sale to purchase and not to buy. So how then are these cases usually proven? The overwhelming majority of the time it is based on people telling on themselves. As you have seen several times before, frequently unprovable cases become provable when you admit to committing a crime.  So if a suspect does the right... read more

Virginia’s Possession of Marijuana Laws

What To Do: Possession Of Marijuana First Offense Marijuana is legalized for medical use, but in Fairfax County, possessing this substance is considered a misdemeanor if there are no valid prescriptions in effect. First-time offenders may however get a pass to serve probation in lieu of jail time, or seek out a restricted license. It’s still a crime to possess marijuana, even in small quantities in Fairfax County, Virginia. The only exception is if you’ve been prescribed this substance for medical use. If this has been your first brush with the law for marijuana possession, there may be options, including: Probation – in which case all the terms of the probation must be met to avoid jail time. Infraction – a lawyer may be able to plea this charge down to a lesser crime. More on Probation During probation, first time offenders must complete a number of checklists including giving up their driving privileges for a period of six months; completing at least 24 hours of community service; enrolling in and paying for a drug treatment program; plus pay all fines outlined by the court. The details are stipulated in Virginia Code 18.2-251. First time drug offenders who possess other drugs besides marijuana may be eligible for these terms. The Usual Penalties for Marijuana Possession Typical sentences for marijuana possession, being the first offense, include up to $500 in fines and or up to 30 days in jail. In most cases, jail time isn’t imposed, except in cases with aggravating factors. Additionally, penalties may include license suspension for a period of up to six months. One goal you can... read more

What are Your Options After Getting a Ticket (Summons) For Possession of Marijuana in Fairfax, Virginia

Possession of Marijuana Options Now that marijuana has been legalized in several states across the United States, will I get in trouble if I’m found with the substance in Virginia? Read more by clicking here. Marijuana use in Virginia – is it legal, or no? The topic has been subject to heated debates throughout the nation, but here’s what visitors and residents need to know about the legality of marijuana possession in the state: The law outlines that marijuana possession is legal when there has been a valid prescription issued by a certified doctor. Some of the top ailments considered for medical marijuana use are cancer and glaucoma. Doctors and pharmacists too, are exempted from prosecution for the sales or distribution of medical marijuana when it’ prescribed for the purposes of cancer or glaucoma in the state of Virginia. Virginia Criminalizes Possession of Marijuana Nevertheless, it is illegal to possess marijuana for non-medical uses, and serious penalties may  arise if found guilty. The typical sentencing includes a fine of $500 for the possession of less than half-ounce of marijuana; and/or up to 30 days’ imprisonment. Second-time offenders found in possession of less than half-ounce of marijuana face up to $2,500 in fines, and or up to one-year imprisonment. Other Penalties The laws furthermore outline that if a person is found in possession of more than ½ oz. of marijuana, but no more than 5lbs., this is considered to be a Class 5 Felony. Any possession exceeding 5 lbs. is a felony punishable by 5-30 years imprisonment. However, many of these penalties will be substantially reduced once you actually go... read more

What are Your Options After Being Arrested for DWI/DUI In Fairfax, Virginia

Options After DWI Arrest – The First Offense Is this your first brush with the law when it comes to driving under the influence? Learn what options are available to avoid jail time or prevent license suspension in Fairfax County, Virginia. Have you made an error in judgment by driving while intoxicated? Have you been arrested and are now summoned to court? By now you’ve probably read the detailed list of consequences that could arise from the DMV site. The top picks in sentencing include driver’s license suspension, fines, and possibly jail time. More specifically, fines can be anywhere between the mandatory minimum of $250 and $2500, with one year’s worth of license suspension. Aggravating factors like driving with a minor, or having a blood alcohol count higher than 0.15% can also increment fines and other penalties. Options Following an Arrest If an officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a chemical test will usually follow. Drivers can opt out of this test, however the consequence of doing so would be an automatic suspension of their driver’ license for one year, even if you were not guilty of the DWI. This is a separate charge called Refusal.  Some of the rules regarding refusals can be very complicated. Pleading The Case Is there any leniency when it comes to penalties for driving while intoxicated? For one, drivers can seek legal counsel to see if the DWI charge can be plead down to a reckless driving or improper driving offense. Reckless driving is still a misdemeanor, but these are often given a pass when viewed... read more

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