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What is a “Habitual Offender Declaration” in Richmond, Virginia?

The following is information on habitual offender’s in Virginia including what it means to be a habitual offender and whether this label carries any increased penalties. To learn more about the Habitual Offender Declaration call today and discuss your record with a Richmond traffic lawyer.

A habitual offender declaration is a declaration for an individual who has received 3 or more major convictions or 12 minor convictions within a 10 year period. The only issue there is there is no longer a habitual offender declaration in Virginia. The law was actually revoked in July of 1999 however those individuals who were declared habitual offenders prior to that law and never reinstated are still subject to the penalties and are still prohibited from driving until they reinstate their license.

What Are The Elements Of This Kind Of Case?

The elements of an habitual offender case are, number one the individuals operate the vehicle, number two that they were declared an habitual offender either by a circuit court, general district court or the Department of Motor Vehicles and that they had notice of such a declaration.

Are Habitual Offender Cases Taken Seriously In Richmond, Virginia?

They are very much so. In cases where the habitual offender charges are involve past DUI matters and or if the current violation involves alcohol or drugs prosecutors will pursue vigorously.

A first offense for driving while habitual offender, as long as there is no property damage or alcohol related in the offense, is a Class 1 misdemeanor with a possibility of 90 days in jail but with a 10 day mandatory minimum jail sentence. If it is a first offense that endangers life or involves a DUI then that is treated as a felony charge as well as if there are two or more prior convictions for habitual offender that will also be treated as a felony.

Are There Any Defenses Available In Habitual Offender Cases?

The defenses available in the habitual offender case are primarily that there was no notice of the habitual offender declaration and or that the offense was itself improper. Another defense would be that you were driving as a result of an emergency for a life or a limb to save a family member, to save a friend, etc.

Are People Usually Arrested In Habitual Offender Cases?

Yes they are. They are arrested and their vehicle can be impounded on the spot.

Why Is It Important To Contact a Richmond, Virginia Traffic Lawyer In Habitual Defender Cases?

It is important to retain an attorney in habitual offender case for a number of reasons. An attorney can research the defenses and determine if the habitual offender declaration was proper, to see if there is proper notice. What an attorney can also do is attempt to have you reinstated while your case is pending. It is a very significant mitigating factor if you can appear in court having reinstated your license. It helps the attorney to negotiate with the prosecutor and even provide it as a mitigating factor to the judge too.