Criminal Defense FAQ
If you have been charged with a crime in Virginia, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Even if you decide not to hire a lawyer, you’ll still be better informed about your legal options and what to expect in the coming days. Listed below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about what to do if you have been arrested.
What should you do after you’ve been arrested?
The first thing you should do if you’ve been arrested is to ask for a lawyer and refuse to make a statement about the arrest or the alleged crime. Under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to remain silent when questioned by law enforcement authorities in order to avoid self-incrimination. Don’t resist arrest, keep your hands where they can be seen and do not make physical contact with the arresting officer. Try to make a note of the officer’s name, badge number and patrol car number. If possible, find witnesses and get their names and phone numbers.
What should you do if your child has been arrested?
An arrest for a juvenile crime in Virginia is a very serious matter. Taking action immediately may prevent your child from being convicted in the future. By reaching out to an attorney as soon as possible, you give your child the best chance of minimizing the impact of penalties on your lives.
What penalties can you face if you are convicted of a crime?
The consequences of a conviction vary widely depending on the charge and the circumstances involved, but in general, individuals convicted of crimes can expect to face possible prison time, fines and fees, community service, drug, and alcohol counseling, loss of driving privileges, and other penalties.
Should you allow a public defender to represent you after an arrest?
If you cannot afford a personal attorney, you are entitled to be represented by a public defender or court-appointed lawyer. However, you should keep in mind that public defenders and court-appointed lawyers, however well-intentioned or skillful they may be, are sometimes overwhelmed with their caseload. There is a chance your case will not get the attention you think it deserves. Some defendants have only a brief opportunity to confer with their public defender or court-appointed lawyer, and even then, this meeting may be conducted in the hallway just before a court appearance. While many of these lawyers are experienced and need very little time to learn what they need to know to properly represent you, you are usually better off hiring an attorney who has more time to devote to your case.
When should you hire a traffic crimes attorney?
Some traffic crimes can result in license suspension, jail time, and heavy fines for those convicted. Under such circumstances, hiring an aggressive traffic crimes attorney may well be worth the price.
What should you do if you’ve been arrested on federal property?
In Virginia, where citizens may often find themselves on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, at the Pentagon, or on another federal territory such as Ft. Myer or Ft. Belvoir, it’s not difficult to find yourself being charged with a federal crime due to an arrest for alleged drug possession, DUI, or domestic violence. If you are facing federal charges, it’s in your best interest to speak with a federal crimes attorney as soon as possible.