Criminal Law in Virginia
If you have been arrested for a crime committed in Virginia, it’s important to seek legal counsel immediately. A qualified Virginia criminal defense lawyer will provide an aggressive and strategic defense. You need a defense attorney regardless of whether you’re guilty or innocent.
If you or a loved one is researching Virginia criminal law or looking for a Virginia criminal defense attorney, this article is geared toward you. In this article, we’ll discuss:
- Virginia criminal laws;
- What you need to know about criminal defense in Virginia; and
- How to work with your Virginia criminal defense attorney.
Ask the bar association or friends for referrals or Google, “How to find a Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney.”
Virginia Criminal Laws
Criminal law seeks to both protect individuals and the general public from perceived harm and to keep order in society.
Virginia criminal laws are found in the Virginia Crime Code. There are hundreds of crimes listed in the Virginia Crime Code, including offenses against property and offenses against persons.
Statute of Limitations
Virginia prosecutors must bring criminal charges within the Virginia statute of limitations. If charges are not brought within this period of time, they are barred.
For example, in Virginia, the statute of limitations for:
- Assault and battery is no time limit or 1 year, depending on the facts of the case. (Va. Code В§19.2-8).
- Burglary is unlimited. (Va. Code В§19.2-8).
- Receiving Stolen Property is 1 year or 5 years, depending on the facts of the case. (Va. Code В§19.2-8).
If you are sentenced for a felony offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia, your defense attorney must prepare a Sentencing Guidelines report for the judge. However, the guidelines report is used at the discretion of the judge. Judges pass sentences above or below the guidelines.
- Virginia has 6 classes of felonies. The associated punishments range 12 months in jail to capital punishment, depending on the crime and its severity. Class 1 felonies are the most serious and Class 6 felonies are the least serious.
- Virginia has 4 classes of misdemeanors. The associated punishments range no jail time and a small fine up to 12 months in jail and larger fines, depending on the crime and its severity. Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious and Class 4 misdemeanors are the least serious.
Your criminal defense attorney will explain exactly what punishment you are facing.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense
If you are being questioned about or have been arrested for a crime in Virginia, your life, liberty, and money may be at risk.
- Calla Virginia criminal defense lawyer as soon as you are arrested.
- Even innocent people need a rigorous legal defense.
- Your conversations with your defense attorney are confidential.
- Do not make a statement to police, other than to ask for an attorney.
Your criminal defense attorney will explain anything else you need to understand about your individual situation.
How to Work with a Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer
You need to be an active partner in your own defense. Your attorney can’t help you if you won’t help yourself. This means that you must:
- Remember that everything your attorney does is in your best interests – even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Always heed your lawyer’s advice.
- Tell your defense attorney exactly what happened.
- Respond to phone calls, emails, or letters immediately.
- Provide all requested information.
- Stay in contact with your attorney and update your attorney’s office if your phone number or address changes.
- Remember that it is in your best interest for your attorney to question you; perhaps even challenge you.
- Remember it is in your best interest for your attorney to be polite and cooperate with witnesses, the alleged victim, police officers, investigators, and the prosecutor.
Bottom Line: If you are facing criminal charges in Virginia, immediately consult with a criminal defense attorney. The stakes are too high to move forward without aggressive and professional legal representation.