Most Common Criminal Charges in Virginia

As a criminal defense attorney in Virginia, the most common cases I see are reckless driving cases and DUIs. Reckless driving cases are common because they involve every day occurrences.  People driving on the highway lose track of speed, you get a reckless driving. And one of the things that makes it particularly difficult in Virginia is reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor making it doubly dangerous because, number one it could theoretically come with jail sentence, it could put a mark on your criminal record, and it could result in a suspended driver’s license and effect your insurance.

DUIs are also extremely common in Virginia due to the strict enforcement of the law.  DUI charges are not exclusive to any part of our society, I’ve represented lawyers, doctors, everybody across the spectrum of our community.  And the penalties with DUIs in Virginia are severe.

Are There Any Charges That Virginia Prosecutors Are Trying to Crack Down on and Prosecute Firmly?

Most definitely. DUIs and reckless driving charges. DUIs more so than any other charge in Virginia. DUIs present a threat to the community at large due to the accidents and fatalities they cause to innocent people. You hear tragic instances all the time of  innocent folks that are killed in DUI accidents. So there is a priority in those communities and throughout Virginia especially in Richmond area where, the prosecutors want to enforce those charges very strictly.

For this reason the enforcement on the roads is very tight. If there is even an indication of alcohol when there’s a stop, the officers will, investigate thoroughly to determine if it is a possible DUI case.

Reckless driving and speeding case are also strictly enforced throughout the Richmond area.  This regions proximity to heavily traveled interstates like 95 and 295, make this a high priority for law enforcement.  Officers are also very strict on enforcing these charges on CDL due to the added safety concerns.  It really comes down to a safety concern for the region and studies that show how speeding is associated with accidents and highway injuries and fatalities.

What Are Some of The Problems You See With the Court System and How it Operates?

The main thing I see is that due to the way some laws are written, Judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys are limited on what they can do.  Laws that carry minimum mandatory sentences in Virginia take away the ability of attorneys and judges to use discretion and make exceptions in sentencing when the facts require it.  In addition, another issue that many public defenders are overworked and not compensated enough for their efforts.  This has the effect that defendants may not always receive the most proficient legal assistance or fully understand what they are facing because they attorney does not have the time or capability to adequately prepare the case.

What Do You Think Some Solutions Might be?

A solution regarding some of the issues with minimum mandatory sentences would be asking the general to take a fresh looks at these laws. I don’t want to delve into politics here but they need take a look at some of those laws that take away the decision-making ability of those in the legal system.  And with regarding to public defenders, I think it is a matter of the state providing better compensation or funding to ensure that they are able to have the resources they need to properly prepare and handle their cases.