Virginia Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

What Is Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor?

This is a serious criminal charge in Virginia, governed by section 18.2-371 of the Virginia Code.  This crime is a class 1 misdemeanor, which means it has the possibility of up to one year in jail for anyone found guilty. A person might be charged with this crime for a minor neglectful act related to a child they are responsible for, or for having children with you in a place or time they shouldn’t be, or for having your children witness a criminal act that you are engaging in, such as shoplifting.

Strangely enough, this Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor can also be charged when an adult has consensual sex with a child who is older than fifteen years old. While this seems like it should be a totally different law, it isn’t. So if you are convicted of this crime, and it appears on your criminal record, an employer would have no way of knowing for sure whether you were charged because of a sex act with a fifteen year-old, or for some other reason.

Attorney for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

It is not at all unusual for someone to be incorrectly charged under this statute. Prosecutors sometimes read this law very broadly, and believe it covers a huge array of potentially bad choices. Not all judges agree, however, and a criminal defense attorney can help you decide whether the law was even correctly used to charge you. In addition, many people charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor have perfectly valid and good defenses to the crime.

If you or a loved one have been charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, contact us for a free and private consultation on your case.

Prostitution and Commercial Sex Trafficking

In the last legislative session, the Virginia legislature enacted new laws and amended some existing laws regarding prostitution, pandering, and commercial sex trafficking. As a result of the changes, many offenses in this category were elevated to higher-level felonies than they previously had been, and the new law is expected to sweep in a number of people who would have previously avoided prosecution.

prostitution-lawyer-virginiaThe new law, Va Code Section 18.2-357.1, creates a Class 5 Felony for anyone who encourages, causes, or attempts to cause another person to engage in prostitution with the intent to receive money or assist someone else in receiving money. To prove this offense, the Commonwealth would have to prove that the defendant took some substantial step toward encouraging someone else to have sex for money, and that he intended to receive some or all of the money himself or pass it to another person.  If found guilty under this law, and the person engaging in the sex act was not a minor, then the defendant could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. If the person was a minor at the time of the offense, then it could be up to 20 years in prison. And if force, threats, or intimidation were used to force the person to engage in prostitution, the minimum recommended sentence is two years.

The usual pandering (prostitution) law was also amended. It increased the penalty for when a minor is involved from a class 4 to a class 3 felony, making the sentence between 5 to 20 years in prison.

What to do When Arrested for Prostitution or Pandering?

Whenever laws are changed, there is always the potential that an innocent person can get inadvertantly caught up in an otherwise legitimate sweep of arrests. There is also the possibility that someone will be arrested and charged under the wrong law, even if they did have some involvement in an incident. These types of charges are very serious, and when convicted they will remain on your criminal record permanently. Because of the nature of the charge, they can cause significant problems later in life as you try to gain employment.

When you or a loved one is charged in Virginia with a sexual offense like prostitution, it is important to have a Virginia criminal defense attorney who understands these laws and is up to date on the legitimate defenses available. Contact us for a free consultation on your case.

Southampton Virginia Reckless Driving Attorney

Speeding and Reckless Driving Tickets in Southampton County

southampton-speeding-recklessThere are two kinds of people in this world.  First, there are those who’ve never heard of Southampton County, Virginia. Second, there are those who’ve gotten a speeding ticket there. Almost everyone who travels US Highway 58 on their way to Western Virginia or North Carolina with any regularity has gotten a speeding or reckless driving ticket driving there. It’s true:  Southampton County is a speed trap in the sense that it seems to come out of nowhere, has a quickly reducing speed limit, and some very efficient cops.  Within Southampton County is the City of Courtland. Courtland is well known for its efficient speed enforcement as well, and if you are ticked anywhere in Southampton County, you will be summoned to appear in the General District Court which is located in Courtland, VA.

If you’ve been through the area, you know there are several speed limit signs posted very close together and the limit drops rapidly between them. And just on the other side of the lowest one, an officer will be waiting — usually with a high-accuracy LiDar Speed Measurement Laser Device. In Southampton, the officer will ticket you for speeding if you were going faster than the speed limit, but not more than 20 MPH faster. If you were going 20 MPH or more over the speed limit, the officer might elect to ticket you for Reckless Driving rather than speeding.  You can read more about reckless driving here, but realize that Reckless Driving is a criminal offense, not merely a traffic infraction like speeding.

Do I have to come back to the Southampton Court for my ticket?

If you were cited for Reckless, you may be wondering if you can avoid coming back to court.  Usually the answer is no.  Reckless is a criminal offense with the potential of jail time, therefore you must appear in person at the General District Court in Courtland, VA for trial. However, a Virginia Reckless Driving Attorney can often get that requirement waived, and appear in court on your behalf so that you do not have to travel back here.  Contact us for a free consultation, and we’ll let you know whether your reckless driving ticket is one that we can handle in Southampton County without you there.  If you got a speeding rather than reckless ticket, we can appear on your behalf without you coming back. You should discuss this decision with us to determine what is the best course of action for your case.

Should I prepay my Southampton ticket?

Reckless Driving and Speeding both have defenses and ways to keep your record clean or at least minimize the impact a conviction would have on your record. Generally you cannot pre-pay a reckless ticket. You can pre-pay a speeding ticket, but be aware that pre-paying the ticket is a guilty plea and the ticket will go on your record in that case.

If you’re one of the many who’ve been ticketed in Southampton County or Courtland Virginia, give us a call. We are experienced with that court, and can help with your case.



Diddy Does Detention on Nearly Deadly Kettlebell Drop

diddy-Virginia-attorneyIt’s no secret, Diddy has a temper, and this isn’t the first time he’s been charged with Assault. Technically, this time it’s three counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon (a Kettlebell), one count of terrorist threats, and one count of Battery. The rapper was arrested around Noon Pacific Time on June 22, and by 10:00 PM he had posted Bail and was released.

Helicopter Dads are not a new phenomenon, and charges of Assault and Battery are not that uncommon, though sometimes they get reduced to something less serious, like Disturbing the Peace, if the incident doesn’t involve any weapon and no one is injured. Apparently Diddy’s incident was more serious, as it is alleged he threatened his son’s coach with the Kettlebell, believing the coach was treating his son too harshly. Diddy claims self-defense.

Since Diddy’s debacle happened in California, and their laws will apply. But similar charges would likely be brought had the incident happened in Virginia. Here, the charge might be Attempted Malicious Wounding, which is a Class 5 Felony and carries a potential punishment of 1-10 years in prison, or up to 12 months jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

If he acted in defense of himself or others, that might be a legitimate defense to his charges. In that case, he would have to demonstrate some evidence that he legitimately feared for his life or safety and acted to prevent an imminent attack. Note that self-defense won’t help a person who leaves the scene and returns later, nor is it helpful if you use more force than necessary to repel the attacker.

Next time you’re at your child’s football or baseball game, let’s keep it civil. But if you do get arrested, give us a call.



What to do with a Criminal Charge in Virgina?

“I was charged with a criminal offense in Virginia Beach,  I bonded out of jail, but I’m new to this whole thing. What should I do?”

virginia-criminal-attorneyBeing charged with a crime (or issued a summons) in Virginia Beach, Newport News, or anywhere in Hampton Roads can be confusing, devastating, infuriating, and stressful. If you’ve been accused of a crime, you might experience a huge range of complicated emotions and worries, and all of them are normal.  The criminal system can be complex and overwhelming, but a local attorney can walk you through it every step of the way.  One of the benefits of a good local attorney is having someone on your side who can let you know what will happen next, and how best to extricate yourself from the criminal system.

Criminal Charges Take Time to Deal With

Many people, especially if they feel they have been falsely arrested or falsely accused, think that since it’s all a big mistake they should be able to make their criminal offense go away pretty quickly. But that’s almost never the case. A great criminal defense attorney can walk you through dealing with the criminal charge, no matter whether you are guilty or innocent, but either way the same steps must be followed. It takes months to fully dispose of minor criminal charges, and can take years to fully dispose of more serious criminal charges, even when you are definitely innocent.  A good Virginia Lawyer can take steps to move the process forward as quickly as possible, but you should settle in for the long haul — do not expect that your criminal charge can go away 7 days after your were arrested.  That is almost never possible.

Step 1:  Criminal Arraignment

In Virginia, after you are arrested or summoned for most criminal misdemeanors and felonies, the first time you see a judge will be your hire your own Virginia Attorney to represent you.  And finally, while the judge will inform you that you have the right to represent yourself, you should never choose this option.

Step 2:  Bond Hearing

If you are in custody (jail) at the time of your arraignment, some judges will allow you to waive counsel and have a bond hearing right away to see if you can be released from jail pending your trial. However, unless you already have a lawyer present, you should not have a bond hearing at your arraignment. You can simply tell the judge you wish to hire an Attorney to do a bond hearing for you.  After that, you can have a friend or loved one contact us to arrange a bond hearing, and try to get you released from jail before your trial.

So it’s best to have your arraignment first, then contact your attorney to discuss the case, and then have that attorney schedule your bond hearing for you.  In most cases, you get one bond hearing and if the judge does not release you, you can appeal that decision one time. That second decision is final.  This is why you don’t want to “waste” a bond hearing at arraignment without an Attorney.  You only get two chances to be released on bond before your trial.

Step 3: Preparation and Negotiations

During this time, your Attorney will be working behind-the-scenes on your behalf to help deal with your criminal charges, and to prepare for trial. We simultaneously talk with the prosecutor about the case to see if it can be resolved without trial, while also preparing the case for trial. If you are charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense, this period of negotiation and preparation by your Virginia Defense Attorney might last 20 – 90 days.  If it is a serious felony criminal offense, this time period may be closer to a year. And on the most serious of the felony crimes, it can be 2 years or more before trial. During this time, other hearings may be scheduled for the judge to decide pretrial issues of evidence and procedure.

Step 4: Criminal Trial

Your Attorney will help you decide whether this will be a trial with only a judge or a trial with a jury. Many factors go into this critically important decision, which your lawyer will discuss with you so that you can make a well-informed decision considering your case and considering which court will be hearing the case.

There is no shortcut to dealing with criminal charges, but a skilled and caring Virginia Attorney can walk you through it and guide you toward the best possible outcome.  Give us a call for your free consultation.  We look forward to hearing from you.







Criminal Defense in Hampton Roads, Virginia