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Trial By Judge or Jury?

Judge or jury trial?

As you get ready to prepare for your Virginia trial, you will need to ask yourself n important question… should I elect to be tried by a judge or jury?

Of course, sometimes the Virginia prosecutor will ask for a jury trial. In that case, a Virginia jury will hear your case. However, when you have a choice of whether to be tried by a judge or by a jury in Virginia, you must consider the pros and the cons.

Generally and with the exception of some cases like sex offenses, a jury is more likely to acquit that a judge. A Virginia lawyer from our firm can guide you through this tricky decision process.

Although a jury is generally more inclined to acquit, in particular when you are out on bail and they see you go in the courtroom, there are other considerations at play. The most important of these is that in Virginia a judge may suspend part of your sentence… a jury may not. This could be the difference between serving twelve months for a twelve month sentence or serving sixty days for the same sentence if the judge suspends ten months. The following case demonstrates some of the interplay between the Virginia judge’s decisions and the jury.

When it comes to choosing whether to ask for a bench trial or a trial by jury, our attorneys can guide you through the process.

Return to the Virginia Criminal Case Frequently Asked Questions Page.

Contact a Virginia lawyer for Virginia law advice.

515 S.E.2d 307,30 Va.App. 1

Javier Jerome BATTS
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia., Record No. 0592-98-4.

Court of Appeals of Virginia, Alexandria.

June 8, 1999.

Present: FITZPATRICK, C.J., LEMONS, J., and DUFF, Senior Judge.

FITZPATRICK, Chief Judge.

Javier Jerome Batts (appellant) was convicted in a jury trial of the use of a firearm in the commission of a robbery, in violation of Code § 18.2-53.1. 1 On appeal, he contends the trial court erred in instructing the jury to impose an enhanced punishment of five years for a second offense firearm conviction. For the following reasons, we vacate the five-year sentence reflecting the enhanced punishment and remand with instructions to enter an order imposing a three-year sentence on appellant’s firearm conviction.

I. BACKGROUND

On April 21, 1997, appellant was indicted for the robbery of Andrea A. Thomas and the use of a firearm in the commission of robbery. 2 A jury trial was set for August 6, 1997. Appellant filed a pretrial motion in limine seeking to prevent the Commonwealth from using an earlier firearm conviction

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as the predicate for imposing an enhanced penalty. In the earlier case, the jury returned a guilty verdict and although sentencing was set prior to the August 6 trial date in the instant case, [30 Va.App. 6] Judge Stevens continued the sentencing hearing in that case at the request of appellant’s trial counsel. 3

Appellant argued that because no final sentencing order had been entered on the earlier firearm conviction, the jury should have been instructed only as to the first offender sentence of three years. At that time, the trial court indicated it would resolve the dispute after the presentation of evidence. The Commonwealth then moved for a continuance, arguing that appellant should not be allowed to “manipulate the court system” by requesting ex parte a continuance of the first firearm sentencing hearing in order to avoid the enhanced punishment in the instant case. Noting that trial counsel’s actions “put the Commonwealth in a bind,” the trial judge initially granted the motion to continue.

In an extended colloquy between the trial judge and appellant’s counsel, counsel objected both to the continuance and the proposed jury instruction on the enhanced five-year punishment for the firearm charge. 4 Appellant

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ultimately “conceded[30 Va.App. 8] the point” and “agreed” to the five-year jury instruction rather than have the matter continued. At the conclusion of the evidence, the trial court reviewed the Commonwealth’s proposed Instruction G, which contained the mandatory five-year sentence on the firearm charge. When the trial judge asked counsel if he had any objection to the proposed instruction, counsel stated, “That’s acceptable.” The jury subsequently convicted appellant of the firearm offense and recommended the “five years mandatory fixed” sentence.

[30 Va.App. 9] Judge Alden continued the case to November 21, 1997, for the imposition of sentence. Prior to that time, Judge Stevens set aside the jury verdict on the firearm conviction in the first, unrelated case. Accordingly, appellant filed a motion to set aside the verdict in the instant case, alleging that the jury instruction was improper because it contained the enhanced punishment of five years.

On October 31, 1997, after the trial in the instant case but before the scheduled sentencing hearing, appellant was convicted of two additional firearm offenses resulting from another unrelated crime. In that case, the trial judge sentenced him to three years on the first offense and five years on the second offense.

At the sentencing hearing in the present case, Judge Alden denied appellant’s motions to set aside the verdict and imposed the mandatory five-year sentence. The trial judge found as follows:

All right, well, I’ve considered the pre-sentence report in this case, the sentencing guidelines, the jury recommendation, counsel’s arguments. Mr. Batts, I’ve considered your letter and the other facts and circumstances regarding the case.

And I conclude that the instruction, when given, was correct. Now, after the correct instruction was given, circumstances changed, which might have allowed me at a sentencing proceeding to exercise my discretion or may have required me to–I don’t know–to impose a lesser sentence

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than that the jury had imposed at the time it was instructed.

However, as it’s turned out in this case, I guess, it has gone full circle because even though the facts changed after the jury was properly instructed, by the time you get to the sentencing day, the facts have gone all the way around again and have come back to the beginning. So, I conclude, based on all of that, that the jury was properly instructed [30 Va.App. 10] and that today the sentence of the jury is the proper sentence to impose.

Accordingly, the trial judge imposed the five-year sentence on the firearm charge.

II. JURY INSTRUCTION

Appellant contends that at the time the jury was instructed to impose the mandatory five-year sentence for a second firearm offense, there was no predicate conviction because a final order had not been entered on the earlier firearm offense. Because the jury was instructed to impose a sentence greater than that authorized by statute, the instruction was erroneous even though it was approved by appellant’s counsel.

“[An appellate] court’s responsibility in reviewing jury instructions is to see that the law has been clearly stated and that the instructions cover all issues which the evidence fairly raises. It is elementary that a jury must be informed as to the essential elements of the offense; a correct statement of the law is one of the essentials of a fair trial.” Darnell v. Commonwealth, 6 Va.App. 485, 488, 370 S.E.2d 717, 719 (1988) (internal quotations and citations omitted). “[W]hen a principle of law is vital to a defendant in a criminal case, a trial court has an affirmative duty properly to instruct a jury about the matter.” Jimenez v. Commonwealth, 241 Va. 244, 250, 402 S.E.2d 678, 681 (1991).

At the time of trial in the instant case, appellant had not been sentenced on the earlier firearm offense pending before Judge Stevens. Trial counsel admitted in the colloquy with Judge Alden that “[he] called Judge Stevens” to get a continuance in that case. Alleging that appellant sought that continuance for tactical reasons, the Commonwealth’s attorney in the present case moved for a continuance, pending the outcome of the first case. While Judge Alden was “considering granting the motion for a continuance,” trial counsel said he would “concede the point” and agreed to the instruction. Subsequently, when the trial judge asked counsel if he had any objection to the firearm instruction, Instruction G, counsel [30 Va.App. 11] said, “That’s acceptable.” It is in this fast and loose climate that appellant contends the jury was improperly instructed.

A party may not invite error and subsequently raise that error as grounds for appeal. “[A] defendant, having agreed upon the action taken by the trial court, should not be allowed to assume an inconsistent position. No litigant, even a defendant in a criminal case, will be permitted to approbate and reprobate–to invite error … and then to take advantage of the situation created by his own wrong.” Manns v. Commonwealth, 13 Va.App. 677, 679-80, 414 S.E.2d 613, 615 (1992) (citations omitted). Trial counsel agreed to the proposed jury instruction and, thus, became a party to the error he now complains of on appeal. However, his agreement cannot confer the power to impose a sentence greater than that established by the legislature. The penalty exceeded that authorized by statute and, therefore, we hold that the jury was improperly instructed. Code § 18.2-53.1 makes it unlawful for any person to use or display a firearm while committing one of the enumerated felonies. That section provides:

It shall be unlawful for any person to use or attempt to use any pistol, shotgun, rifle, or other firearm or display such weapon in a threatening manner while committing or attempting to commit murder, rape, forcible sodomy, inanimate or animate object sexual penetration as defined in § 18.2-67.2, robbery, carjacking, burglary, malicious wounding as defined in § 18.2-51, malicious bodily injury to a law-enforcement officer as defined in § 18.2-51.1, aggravated malicious wounding as defined in § 18.2-51.2, malicious wounding by mob as defined in § 18.2-41 or abduction. Violation of this section shall constitute a separate and distinct felony and any person found guilty thereof shall be sentenced to a

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term of imprisonment of three years for a first conviction, and for a term of five years for a second or subsequent conviction under the provisions of this section.

Code § 18.2-53.1 (emphasis added). The statute is recidivist in nature because it is “aimed at punishment of specific behavior, not reform.” Stubblefield v. Commonwealth, 10 Va.App. 343, 347, 392 S.E.2d 197, 198 (1990).

[30 Va.App. 12] Based on the evidence before the trial court, Instruction G provided an incorrect statement of law because it instructed the jury on the enhanced punishment provision for a “second or subsequent conviction” in the absence of proof of a first conviction. A final sentencing order was a necessary predicate to this action, and Judge Stevens had not entered one on the earlier firearm offense. The jury’s verdict in that case was not a final conviction without the entry of the sentencing order and, therefore, could not be used to establish the predicate first offense. See Ramdass v. Commonwealth, 248 Va. 518, 520, 450 S.E.2d 360, 361 (1994), cert. denied, 514 U.S. 1085, 115 S.Ct. 1800, 131 L.Ed.2d 727 (1995). In Ramdass, our Supreme Court considered whether the defendant’s prior conviction for armed robbery made him ineligible for parole. The Court concluded: “Judgment had not been entered on that verdict; therefore, it cannot be considered as a conviction under [the applicable Code provision].” Id. (emphasis added); see also Miller v. Commonwealth, 22 Va.App. 497, 500 n. 3, 471 S.E.2d 780, 781 n. 3 (1996) (citing Ramdass ) (“A guilty verdict is not a conviction until a final order of judgment has been entered.”).

There being no evidence to support the enhanced punishment provided in Code § 18.2-53.1, the jury did not have the statutory authority to impose a five-year sentence for a first time offender, even with the acquiescence of appellant’s attorney. 5 “Where the sentence imposed is in excess of that prescribed by law, that part of the sentence which is excessive [30 Va.App. 13] is invalid.” Deagle v. Commonwealth, 214 Va. 304, 305, 199 S.E.2d 509, 510 (1973) (citing Crutchfield v. Commonwealth, 187 Va. 291, 46 S.E.2d 340 (1948)). “A sentence in excess of one prescribed by law is not void [a]b initio because of the excess, but is good insofar as the power of the court extends, and is invalid only as to the excess.” Id. at 305, 199 S.E.2d at 510-11 (citing Royster v. Smith, 195 Va. 228, 77 S.E.2d 855 (1953)).

“If an illegal sentence has been pronounced, the court has [the] power to substitute a legal sentence, … the imposition of the void sentence does not terminate the jurisdiction of the court.” Powell v. Commonwealth, 182 Va. 327, 340, 28 S.E.2d 687, 692 (1944) (citations omitted). “A void sentence does not invalidate a prior adjudication of guilt properly had; but, on the contrary, such adjudication furnishes a basis for the imposition of a valid sentence when the invalidity of the sentence imposed is called to the attention of the court.” Carter v. Commonwealth, 199 Va. 466, 470, 100 S.E.2d 681, 684 (1957). In the instant case, at the time the jury returned a guilty verdict and recommended the five-year punishment, it did not have the statutory authority to sentence appellant to any term greater than three years.

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Accordingly, any sentence in excess of the statutory mandate of three years is void.

III. HARMLESS ERROR

The Commonwealth argues that any error in Instruction G was harmless because appellant received two subsequent[30 Va.App. 14] final firearm convictions on October 31, 1997, before the trial judge imposed the instant five-year sentence. Relying on Miller, 22 Va.App. 497, 471 S.E.2d 780, the Commonwealth contends that those subsequent convictions can be used as the predicate for an enhanced punishment in the instant case. The Commonwealth concludes that any error in the jury instruction was harmless because the trial judge ultimately possessed the authority under Miller to impose the five-year sentence based upon the “subsequent” convictions.

Our determination of whether the error is harmless is guided by familiar principles. Non-constitutional error “is harmless ‘[w]hen it plainly appears from the record and the evidence given at the trial that the parties have had a fair trial on the merits and substantial justice has been reached.’ ” Lavinder v. Commonwealth, 12 Va.App. 1003, 1005, 407 S.E.2d 910, 911 (1991) (en banc ) (quoting Code § 8.01-678) (emphasis added in Lavinder ). To determine whether an error is harmless, we “must review the record and the evidence and evaluate the effect the error may have had on how the finder of fact resolved the contested issues.” Id. at 1007, 407 S.E.2d at 912. “An error does not affect a verdict if a reviewing court can conclude, without usurping the jury’s fact finding function, that, had the error not occurred, the verdict would have been the same.” Id. at 1005, 407 S.E.2d at 911.

Applying the standard articulated in Lavinder, we cannot conclude that the erroneous jury instruction and the trial court’s imposition of the five-year sentence was harmless. Although we concluded in Miller that the trial court properly imposed the enhanced punishment in that case, Miller, unlike appellant, was tried in a bench trial. In Miller, we held that the trial judge properly imposed the five-year sentence where an unrelated firearm conviction was entered after the judge’s finding of guilt but four days before he imposed the sentence.

Because Code § 18.2-53.1 is concerned with punishing repeat firearm offenders, the statute punishes for a “second or subsequent conviction” without regard to the dates of the convictions or the sequence in which the offenses were [30 Va.App. 15] committed. “Any conviction that follows a first conviction is a subsequent conviction within the purview of Code § 18.2-53.1.”

Miller, 22 Va.App. at 501-02, 471 S.E.2d at 782 (citations omitted) (emphasis added). Therefore, we concluded “that the relevant inquiry under Code § 18.2-53.1 is whether, at the time of sentencing, a conviction entered is a ‘second or subsequent’ conviction.” Id. at 502, 471 S.E.2d at 782 (emphasis in original).

The decision in Miller, which involved a bench trial, is not inconsistent with our decision in the present case. A jury may use only those convictions that are final at the time it returns its verdict and determines the appropriate sentence. There was no predicate offense in this case when the jury recommended the enhanced punishment because judgment had not been entered on the earlier firearm conviction pending before Judge Stevens and the October 1997 convictions had not occurred.

We recognize that Virginia law has historically maintained a clear distinction between the roles played by judge and jury in criminal sentencing. See Duncan v. Commonwealth, 2 Va.App. 342, 345, 343 S.E.2d 392, 394 (1986). “Under the statutory scheme, the jury determines the guilt or innocence of the accused. If the jury finds that he is guilty, it then ‘ascertains’ or ‘fixes’ the maximum punishment in accordance with contemporary community values and within the limits established by law.” Id. (emphasis added). “After conviction, … the court may suspend imposition of sentence or suspend the sentence in whole or part….” Code § 19.2-303.

“[T]he punishment as fixed by the jury is not final or absolute, since its finding on the proper punishment is subject to suspension

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by the trial judge, in whole or in part, on the basis of any mitigating facts that the convicted defendant can marshal. The verdict of the jury is the fixing of maximum punishment which may be served. Under such practice, the convicted criminal defendant is entitled to [30 Va.App. 16] ‘two decisions’ on the sentence, one by the jury and the other by the trial judge in the exercise of his statutory right to suspend; his ‘ultimate sentence … does not [therefore] rest with the jury’ alone but is always subject to the control of the trial judge. This procedure makes the jury’s finding little more than an advisory opinion or first-step decision. Any criticism of jury sentencing because it lacks the objectivity and principled decision of a judge is thus overcome by the existence of the power in the trial judge to bring his so-called superior judgment to bear upon the issue of proper punishment in reaching his decision whether to suspend the sentence or not.”

Duncan, 2 Va.App. at 345, 343 S.E.2d at 394 (quoting Vines v. Muncy, 553 F.2d 342, 349 (4th Cir.1977)) (emphasis added). Clearly, the trial judge may reduce a sentence but may not exceed the “maximum punishment” fixed by the jury.

In the instant case, notwithstanding trial counsel’s acquiescence and agreement to the erroneous jury instruction, we cannot conclude that the error was harmless. Appellant was subjected to a maximum mandatory sentence that was not authorized at the time the jury determined his “maximum punishment.” Id. While a trial judge may have the authority under Code § 19.2-303 to reduce a jury’s recommended sentence, 6 he or she does not have the authority to impose a sentence greater than the one recommended by the jury. 7 The trial court is required to properly instruct the jury as to a correct statement of the applicable punishment range as of the time of trial. Because the jury was instructed to impose a sentence greater than that authorized, that portion in excess of the statutory maximum of three years is vacated and the case is remanded to the trial court to enter an order consistent [30 Va.App. 17] with this opinion and in accordance with the first offender provisions of Code § 18.2-53.1. 8

Reversed and remanded.

—————

1 Appellant was also convicted of robbery, in violation of Code § 18.2-58.

2 Patrick N. Anderson represented appellant in the proceedings before Judge Stevens in the earlier firearm case and in the trial court proceedings in the instant case. Different counsel was appointed for this appeal.

3 The Commonwealth received no notice and did not participate in the motion for continuance of the sentencing before Judge Stevens.

[COMMONWEALTH]: … [Appellant] was supposed to get sentenced last week. Unbeknownst to the Commonwealth, it got bumped. Mr. Sanders from our office was there ready to argue [the sentencing before Judge Stevens] and was told from the Bench, “Well, that’s been moved to September.”

Appellant’s trial counsel conceded that he called Judge Stevens to request a continuance in the first case.

THE COURT: How did the case get moved from Friday?

[COMMONWEALTH]: That would be a great question. I wish I knew the answer.

THE COURT: Mr. Anderson, do you know?

[COUNSEL]: I called Judge Stevens…. I did call Judge Stevens. There were several reasons.

THE COURT: Mr. Anderson, it doesn’t really matter [why] it was continued. Why it was continued doesn’t really matter….

4 The following colloquy occurred:

[COUNSEL]: … My client is ready to go to trial here today.

THE COURT: Well, you can note your exception.

[COUNSEL]: Well, if I may, before you make this decision, let me tell my client exactly what’s going on here because, I’m sure he doesn’t understand–

THE COURT: All right.

[COUNSEL]: –and see what he wants to do.

(Counsel confers with Defendant.)

[COUNSEL]: Judge, just so I understand, are you refusing to make a decision on this issue?

THE COURT: Well, Mr. Anderson, I’ve granted–or, I’m considering granting the motion for a continuance. I’ve given you an opportunity to be heard on it. If there’s anything else you’d like to say, I’ll be happy to hear it.

[COUNSEL]: Well, before we get to the continuance, what I’m trying to determine is–I mean, if the Court is just continuing the matter because they refuse to rule on the motion, which I think is improper, I think that we need to make a decision on the issue.

I mean–if you make a decision one way or the other, then Mr. Murphy can either make his determination whether he wants a continuance, but I don’t think it’s right or fair for anybody for the Court to say, “Well, I can’t make this decision. I’m just going to continue the case.”

THE COURT: Well, Mr. Anderson, I understand perfectly your position. Is there anything else that you’d like to say about the motion for a continuance?

[COUNSEL]: Well, then this is what I’m going to have to do, and this is kind of odd. I’m obviously going to note my exception to what’s going on; but, then, for purposes of protecting my client, I’ll just concede that you can use the five years then, because my client is going to be better protected now than waiting until after September, when all the other stuff is going to be final.

So, if the Court’s not willing to make a ruling, which I think is improper and I do object to that–that’s why we have this system–then, I’m forced to make a determination of what’s the least burden to put on my client.

The Court is basically ordering me to tell my client what’s the least exposure you’re going to have, and that is very improper, and I note a big exception to that. But, if that’s the way we are today, then I have no choice but to say let Mr. Murphy use the five years.

He can’t say there was a second prior conviction now, and I guess, if we have to, we’ll deal with it later in the Appeals Court, but I can’t agree to the continuance.

THE COURT: Mr. Murphy, is there anything you’d like to add?

[COMMONWEALTH]: Your Honor, if counsel would rather concede the legal point than see a continuance granted, that’s fine with me.

[COUNSEL]: Well, I’m not conceding a legal point, but we are going to go forward. That five years is going to go into the jury instruction, but I’m not conceding it and I’m noting an exception to it, but it will be in the jury instruction.

THE COURT: Well, I’m not sure you can have it both ways, Mr. Anderson. If you don’t want to agree to it being five years in the jury instruction, you don’t have to. On that condition, I’m granting the Commonwealth’s motion for a continuance. I mean, it’s as simple as that.

I know you disagree with me, but please tell me how you’d like to proceed at this point.

[COUNSEL]: Well, if I may then, Judge, you tell me I can’t have it both ways, but the Court wants it both ways. I respectfully say this to you. I’m not trying to be–

THE COURT: Mr. Anderson, I’ve ruled. Is there anything else you’d like to add with regard to whether you’ll agree or not agree?

[COUNSEL]: Then I will be forced to concede the point, but I’m noting my exception that I’m being forced to concede the point, but I will concede the point. That I can do.

THE COURT: All right. Well, then you’ve conceded the point.

[COUNSEL]: But I’m noting my exception to being forced, here.

[COMMONWEALTH]: I object to this, Your Honor. I object to it.

THE COURT: All right. Let’s agree on a date for a continuance.

[COUNSEL]: Well, Judge, I’m conceding the point. The fact–

THE COURT: Mr. Anderson, I don’t want to argue about it any further. You don’t have to agree to it, and if you don’t agree to it–

[COUNSEL]: But I am agreeing to it. I just said I would agree to it.

THE COURT: Well, then the record will reflect that you’re agreeing to it, not that you’re agreeing to it but objecting to it.

[COUNSEL]: I’m not doing that. You said I couldn’t do that, and I’m not doing that. I said I would agree to the legal point, but there’s a difference by saying that I note an exception that I’m being put in that position. That’s different. Isn’t that fair?

THE COURT: How about September 16th?

[COUNSEL]: Well, if you’re not going to let me do that either, then I’ll just concede the point. I mean, I have no choice, Judge. So, I will concede the point. If you’re not going to let me note an exception to anything, then I’ll just concede the point.

THE COURT: You can note an exception to anything you’d like to, but–

[COUNSEL]: I’m not going to note an exception if that’s going to cause you to continue the case.

[COMMONWEALTH]: September 16th is fine with us.

[COUNSEL]: I’m not going to note any exception if that’s going to cause you to continue this case. I will concede the point, and we’ll move forward.

THE COURT: All right. Then let’s bring the jury in.

(Emphasis added).

5 Our decision to vacate appellant’s five-year sentence is based solely upon the lack of authority of a jury to sentence a defendant to a period greater than that statutorily mandated. Appellant’s argument that he was “forced” either to accept the improperly enhanced punishment or suffer a continuance is without merit. It is well settled that the decision whether to grant a continuance is a matter within the sound discretion of the trial court. See Lebedun v. Commonwealth, 27 Va.App. 697, 712, 501 S.E.2d 427, 434 (1998); Price v. Commonwealth, 24 Va.App. 785, 788, 485 S.E.2d 655, 657 (1997). Indeed, we have previously held that a trial court may properly grant a continuance where the moving party has been the victim of surprise. See Lyles v. Commonwealth, 21 Va.App. 187, 191, 462 S.E.2d 915, 917 (1995) (affirming decision to grant a continuance where the moving party was surprised by defendant’s trial tactics); see also Bennett v. Commonwealth, 236 Va. 448, 460-61, 374 S.E.2d 303, 311 (1988) (“Ambush, trickery, stealth, gamesmanship, one-upmanship, surprise have no legitimate role to play in a properly conducted trial.”), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1028, 109 S.Ct. 1765, 104 L.Ed.2d 200 (1989). Although the trial judge in the instant case could have granted the continuance for good cause, including that the Commonwealth was “put in a bind” by counsel’s “surprise” trial tactics, she did not do so because counsel agreed to proceed with trial.

6 The trial judge cannot reduce a statutorily mandated sentence.

7 Code § 19.2-295.2, which provides that the trial court has the option of imposing an additional six months to three years of suspended sentence, is inapplicable to the instant case. See Allard v. Commonwealth, 24 Va.App. 57, 67-68, 480 S.E.2d 139, 143-44 (1997).

8 Appellant also contends that proof of a prior conviction under Code § 18.2-53.1 constitutes an element of that offense, which the Commonwealth must prove in order to impose the enhanced punishment. He argues that Instruction G was improper because it did not instruct the jury that it was required to find that appellant had previously been convicted of a firearm offense before recommending the enhanced five-year punishment. We do not address the merits of appellant’s argument because he did not raise this issue before the trial court and is precluded from raising it on appeal. See Rule 5A:18.

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Henrico County VA, Richmond City, Chesterfield County VA, Hanover County VA, Petersburg County VA, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Quantico, Virginia Beach VA, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania VA, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa, Manassas VA, Woodbridge, Charles City, James City, Gloucester, Tidewater, Portsmouth, Shenandoah, Prince George, Sussex, New Kent, West End of Richmond, Glen Allen, Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News Divisions). Continue reading

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Plea Bargain or Trial?

The decision of whether to plea or go to trial

As part of every criminal defense case in Virginia there will be a time when your attorney will negotiate with the Commonwealth Attorney for the Virginia city or county where the prosecution is ongoing. This may happen at any point from when you hire your Virginia lawyer until your Virginia criminal trial. Your attorney will present you with potential plea offer and it will be your decision whether or not to take it. Should you plea or risk a trial?

When you retain the services of our Virginia lawyers, you will obtain legal advice, expertise, and experience. Our Virginia lawyers are not afraid to try your case when it is in our client’s best interests.

When we present you with the offered plea, we will also present you with our prediction of what we estimate would happen if we go to trial. For example, recently we got an offer from a prosecutor for a Virginia assault and battery case. Our client stated that she was innocent and would rather go down trying rather than plea guilty to something she did not do. The prosecutor’s offer did not carry the possibility of jail. We went to trial and after several hours our client got acquitted. We will not shy away from a fight, but will candidly advice you to take a plea bargain that is in your best interests.

Return to the Virginia Criminal Case Frequently Asked Questions Page.

Contact a Virginia lawyer for advice on whether to accept a plea or go to trial.

Virginia (VA) criminal defense, divorce, child custody, reckless driving, dui and federal court attorney representing clients throughout Virginia. Some of the jurisdictions served include:

Henrico County VA, Richmond City, Chesterfield County VA, Hanover County VA, Petersburg County VA, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Quantico, Virginia Beach VA, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania VA, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa, Manassas VA, Woodbridge, Charles City, James City, Gloucester, Tidewater, Portsmouth, Shenandoah, Prince George, Sussex, New Kent, West End of Richmond, Glen Allen, Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News Divisions). Continue reading

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Virginia Assault And Battery

Virginia Assault and Battery

Under Virginia law, the common law offenses of assault and battery have been merged. In Virginia, assault and battery are codified under the Code of Virginia.

In Virginia, an assault and battery is an act intended to cause an apprehension of harm or offensive contact. The uttering of words in the absence of an act are not an assault. The words must be accompanied by some act indicating that the accused may actually carry out the threat. Assault also requires that the accused also have the intent to commit the assault. For an assault to occur, the alleged victim must have a reasonable apprehension of imminent injury or imminent unlawful contact.

Assault and battery is a general intent offense. Therefore, the accused does not need to intend the specific harm that will result from the unwanted contact, but only the intent to commit an act of unwanted contact. Gross negligence and recklessness may provide the required intent. If the assault and battery are perpetrated by a mob, each participant can be found guilty of the offense of assault and battery in Virginia.

In Virginia, the traditional defenses for a charge of assault and battery are available. Lack of the intent to commit a Virginia assault and battery and self-defense are the most common defenses to a charge of assault and battery in Virginia.

Under Virginia law, an aggravated offense of assault and battery may be charged as malicious wounding.

Under the Code of Virginia, some assault and battery charges may include:

* Assault and battery
* Assault and battery against a household or family member
* Additional considerations for military personnel convicted of assault and battery in Virginia
* Discretionary civil remedy to assault and battery charges in Virginia – Accord and satisfaction

Assault and battery

§ 18.2-57. Assault and battery.

A. Any person who commits a simple assault or assault and battery shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, and if the person intentionally selects the person against whom a simple assault is committed because of his race, religious conviction, color or national origin, the penalty upon conviction shall include a term of confinement of at least six months, 30 days of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of confinement.

B. However, if a person intentionally selects the person against whom an assault and battery resulting in bodily injury is committed because of his race, religious conviction, color or national origin, the person shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony, and the penalty upon conviction shall include a term of confinement of at least six months, 30 days of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of confinement.

C. In addition, if any person commits an assault or an assault and battery against another knowing or having reason to know that such other person is a judge, a law-enforcement officer as defined hereinafter, a correctional officer as defined in § 53.1-1, a person employed by the Department of Corrections directly involved in the care, treatment or supervision of inmates in the custody of the Department, a firefighter as defined in § 65.2-102, or a volunteer firefighter or lifesaving or rescue squad member who is a member of a bona fide volunteer fire department or volunteer rescue or emergency medical squad regardless of whether a resolution has been adopted by the governing body of a political subdivision recognizing such firefighters or members as employees, engaged in the performance of his public duties, such person is guilty of a Class 6 felony, and, upon conviction, the sentence of such person shall include a mandatory minimum term of confinement of six months.

Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to affect the right of any person charged with a violation of this section from asserting and presenting evidence in support of any defenses to the charge that may be available under common law.

D. In addition, if any person commits a battery against another knowing or having reason to know that such other person is a full-time or part-time teacher, principal, assistant principal, or guidance counselor of any public or private elementary or secondary school and is engaged in the performance of his duties as such, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and the sentence of such person upon conviction shall include a sentence of 15 days in jail, two days of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of confinement. However, if the offense is committed by use of a firearm or other weapon prohibited on school property pursuant to § 18.2-308.1, the person shall serve a mandatory minimum sentence of confinement of six months.

E. As used in this section:

“Judge” means any justice or judge of a court of record of the Commonwealth including a judge designated under § 17.1-105, a judge under temporary recall under § 17.1-106, or a judge pro tempore under § 17.1-109, any member of the State Corporation Commission, or of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, and any judge of a district court of the Commonwealth or any substitute judge of such district court.

“Law-enforcement officer” means any full-time or part-time employee of a police department or sheriff’s office which is part of or administered by the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof, who is responsible for the prevention or detection of crime and the enforcement of the penal, traffic or highway laws of this Commonwealth, and any conservation officer of the Department of Conservation and Recreation commissioned pursuant to § 10.1-115, and conservation police officers appointed pursuant to § 29.1-200, and such officer also includes jail officers in local and regional correctional facilities, all deputy sheriffs, whether assigned to law-enforcement duties, court services or local jail responsibilities, auxiliary police officers appointed or provided for pursuant to §§ 15.2-1731 and 15.2-1733 and auxiliary deputy sheriffs appointed pursuant to § 15.2-1603.

“School security officer” means an individual who is employed by the local school board for the purpose of maintaining order and discipline, preventing crime, investigating violations of school board policies and detaining persons violating the law or school board policies on school property, a school bus or at a school-sponsored activity and who is responsible solely for ensuring the safety, security and welfare of all students, faculty and staff in the assigned school.

F. “Simple assault” or “assault and battery” shall not be construed to include the use of, by any teacher, teacher aide, principal, assistant principal, guidance counselor, school security officer, school bus driver or school bus aide, while acting in the course and scope of his official capacity, any of the following: (i) incidental, minor or reasonable physical contact or other actions designed to maintain order and control; (ii) reasonable and necessary force to quell a disturbance or remove a student from the scene of a disturbance that threatens physical injury to persons or damage to property; (iii) reasonable and necessary force to prevent a student from inflicting physical harm on himself; (iv) reasonable and necessary force for self-defense or the defense of others; or (v) reasonable and necessary force to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects or controlled substances or associated paraphernalia that are upon the person of the student or within his control.

In determining whether a person was acting within the exceptions provided in this subsection, due deference shall be given to reasonable judgments that were made by a teacher, teacher aide, principal, assistant principal, guidance counselor, school security officer, school bus driver, or school bus aide at the time of the event.

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Assault and battery against a household or family member

§ 18.2-57.2. Assault and battery against a family or household member; penalty.

A. Any person who commits an assault and battery against a family or household member is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

B. Upon a conviction for assault and battery against a family or household member, where it is alleged in the warrant, information, or indictment on which a person is convicted, that such person has been previously convicted of two offenses against a family or household member of (i) assault and battery against a family or household member in violation of this section, (ii) malicious wounding in violation of § 18.2-51, (iii) aggravated malicious wounding in violation of § 18.2-51.2, (iv) malicious bodily injury by means of a substance in violation of § 18.2-52, or (v) an offense under the law of any other jurisdiction which has the same elements of any of the above offenses, in any combination, all of which occurred within a period of 20 years, and each of which occurred on a different date, such person is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

C. Whenever a warrant for a violation of this section is issued, the magistrate shall issue an emergency protective order as authorized by § 16.1-253.4, except if the defendant is a minor, an emergency protective order shall not be required.

D. The definition of “family or household member” in § 16.1-228 applies to this section.

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Additional considerations for military personnel convicted of assault and battery in Virginia

§ 18.2-57.4. Reporting findings of assault and battery to military family advocacy representatives.

If any active duty member of the United States Armed Forces is found guilty of a violation of § 18.2-57.2 or § 18.2-57.3, the court shall report the conviction to family advocacy representatives of the United States Armed Forces.

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Discretionary civil remedy to assault and battery charges in Virginia – Accord and satisfaction

§ 19.2-151. Satisfaction and discharge of assault and similar charges.

When a person is in jail or under a recognizance to answer a charge of assault and battery or other misdemeanor, or has been indicted for an assault and battery or other misdemeanor for which there is a remedy by civil action, unless the offense was committed (i) by or upon any law-enforcement officer, (ii) riotously in violation of §§ 18.2-404 to 18.2-407, (iii) against a family or household member in violation of § 18.2-57.2, or (iv) with intent to commit a felony, if the person injured appears before the court which made the commitment or took the recognizance, or before the court in which the indictment is pending, and acknowledges in writing that he has received satisfaction for the injury, the court may, in its discretion, by an order, supersede the commitment, discharge the recognizance, or dismiss the prosecution, upon payment by the defendant of costs accrued to the Commonwealth or any of its officers.

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Contact a Virginia assault and battery defense lawyer

Virginia (VA) criminal defense, divorce, child custody, reckless driving, dui and federal court attorney representing clients throughout Virginia. Some of the jurisdictions served include:

Henrico County VA, Richmond City, Chesterfield County VA, Hanover County VA, Petersburg County VA, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Quantico, Virginia Beach VA, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania VA, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa, Manassas VA, Woodbridge, Charles City, James City, Gloucester, Tidewater, Portsmouth, Shenandoah, Prince George, Sussex, New Kent, West End of Richmond, Glen Allen, Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News Divisions). Continue reading

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Attorney D. Rivera

Virginia Lawyers

Attorney Domingo J. Rivera, MBA, Litigation Specialist (Managing Partner)

Mr. Domingo Rivera is an attorney admitted to practice in Virginia . His unique qualifications and excellent litigation skills and experience combined with his language skills places him in a unique position to be a valuable asset to every client he represents.

Mr. Rivera serves as lead counsel arguing cases in court, filing pleadings, and negotiating settlements. He has presented cases at virtually all levels of the Virginia Courts system from the General District Courts to the Court of Appeals and in the federal courts.

Prior to attending law school, Mr. Rivera completed a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and an M.B.A. He is also fluent in speaking and reading Spanish.

As a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, he was entrusted with the responsibility for several complex high-tech projects. One of these projects was the construction of the Homeland Security Headquarters in Virginia , a multi-million dollar state-of-the art facility and one of the most important projects in the Department of Defense. In addition, Mr. Rivera also served as the Assistant Resident Engineer in Charge of Contracts at the Norfolk Naval Station. These positions of trust required Mr. Rivera to maintain a Top Secret Clearance.

Mr. Rivera has been featured as a legal commentator nationally and internationally, including interviews with the BBC with audience of over 130 million people. Mr. Rivera’s cases have been reported in many publications, including the Washington Post and the Mount Vernon News.

When you demand excellence in legal counseling as well aggressive and effective courtroom skills, Mr. Rivera can be your attorney of choice. He can provide you with legal advice, from deciding whether to pursue litigation to the jury trial.

Contact attorney Domingo J. Rivera

Virginia (VA) criminal defense, divorce, child custody, reckless driving, dui and federal court attorney representing clients throughout Virginia. Some of the jurisdictions served include:

Henrico County VA, Richmond City, Chesterfield County VA, Hanover County VA, Petersburg County VA, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Quantico, Virginia Beach VA, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania VA, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa, Manassas VA, Woodbridge, Charles City, James City, Gloucester, Tidewater, Portsmouth, Shenandoah, Prince George, Sussex, New Kent, West End of Richmond, Glen Allen, Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News Divisions). Continue reading

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Virginia Child Support

Virginia Child Support

Under Virginia law, both parents have an absolute duty to support their children. Virginia has enacted child support guidelines that control the award of child support in Virginia. The Virginia child support guidelines consider the combined income of both parents as well as the cost of medical insurance for the children, extraordinary medical expenses, the cost of daycare, and the support being provided for other children.

The Virginia child support guidelines are presumed to provide the correct level of Virginia child support. In Virginia, the court will rarely deviate from the statutory child support guidelines. However, if the court were to deviate from the guidelines, the court would find that the presumption favoring the Virginia child support guidelines has been overcome. The court will apply the following factors to determine whether to deviate from the Virginia child support guidelines:

* Actual monetary support for other children or family members;
* Arrangement regarding custody of children;
* Imputed income to a party who is voluntarily unemployed or voluntarily underemployed
* Debts of either party arising during the marriage for the benefit of the child;
* Debts incurred for the production of income;
* Independent financial resources of the child;
* Earning capacity, obligations and needs, and financial resources of each parent;
* Written agreements between the parties as to amount of child support;
* other relevant considerations.

Virginia allows for the collection of child support through income withholding orders. Additionally, when the amount of support no longer represents the situation of the parties, Virginia courts can modify the amount of support ordered. For additional Virginia child support information and legal advice:

Contact a Virginia child support lawyer

Virginia (VA) criminal defense, divorce, child custody, reckless driving, dui and federal court attorney representing clients throughout Virginia. Some of the jurisdictions served include:

Henrico County VA, Richmond City, Chesterfield County VA, Hanover County VA, Petersburg County VA, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Quantico, Virginia Beach VA, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania VA, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa, Manassas VA, Woodbridge, Charles City, James City, Gloucester, Tidewater, Portsmouth, Shenandoah, Prince George, Sussex, New Kent, West End of Richmond, Glen Allen, Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News Divisions).

Continue reading

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Virginia Internet Sex Crimes

Virginia Internet Sex Crimes Defense

The only Virginia Internet sex crime law firm with an attorney who is also a Computer Engineer with expertise in Internet technology and computer forensics.

Our Virginia Internet sex crime defense law firm provides representation to those accused of Internet sex crime. Some common Virginia Internet sex crimes that we frequently defend include:

* Internet receipt, possession, or distribution of child pornography online
* Production, sale, financing of child porn
* Age presumption in Virginia possession of child pornography cases
* Internet solicitation of a minor through a chat room
* Attempted indecent liberties and indecent liberties with a minor
* Evidence gathering and administrative subpoena
* Admission to bail in Internet sex crime cases
* Seizure and forfeiture of property used in connection with the exploitation and solicitation of children
* Child Pornography Images Registry

§ 18.2-374.1:1. Possession, reproduction, distribution, and facilitation of child pornography; penalty.

A. Any person who knowingly possesses child pornography is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

B. Any person who commits a second or subsequent violation of subsection A is guilty of a Class 5 felony.

C. Any person who reproduces by any means, including by computer, sells, gives away, distributes, electronically transmits, displays with lascivious intent, purchases, or possesses with intent to sell, give away, distribute, transmit, or display child pornography with lascivious intent shall be punished by not less than five years nor more than 20 years in a state correctional facility. Any person who commits a second or subsequent violation under this subsection shall be punished by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than 20 years in a state correctional facility, five years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.

D. Any person who intentionally operates an Internet website for the purpose of facilitating the payment for access to child pornography is guilty of a Class 4 felony.

E. All child pornography shall be subject to lawful seizure and forfeiture pursuant to § 19.2-386.31.

F. For purposes of this section it may be inferred by text, title or appearance that a person who is depicted as or presents the appearance of being less than 18 years of age in sexually explicit visual material is less than 18 years of age.

G. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any such material which is possessed for a bona fide medical, scientific, governmental, or judicial purpose by a physician, psychologist, scientist, attorney, or judge who possesses such material in the course of conducting his professional duties as such.

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§ 18.2-374.1. Production, publication, sale, financing, etc., of child pornography; presumption as to age; severability.

A. For purposes of this article and Article 4 (§ 18.2-362 et seq.) of this chapter, “child pornography” means sexually explicit visual material which utilizes or has as a subject an identifiable minor. An identifiable minor is a person who was a minor at the time the visual depiction was created, adapted, or modified; or whose image as a minor was used in creating, adapting or modifying the visual depiction; and who is recognizable as an actual person by the person’s face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristic, such as a unique birthmark or other recognizable feature; and shall not be construed to require proof of the actual identity of the identifiable minor.

For the purposes of this article and Article 4 (§ 18.2-362 et seq.) of this chapter, the term “sexually explicit visual material” means a picture, photograph, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film, digital image, including such material stored in a computer’s temporary Internet cache when three or more images or streaming videos are present, or similar visual representation which depicts sexual bestiality, a lewd exhibition of nudity, as nudity is defined in § 18.2-390, or sexual excitement, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse, as also defined in § 18.2-390, or a book, magazine or pamphlet which contains such a visual representation. An undeveloped photograph or similar visual material may be sexually explicit material notwithstanding that processing or other acts may be required to make its sexually explicit content apparent.

B. A person shall be guilty of production of child pornography who:

1. Accosts, entices or solicits a person less than 18 years of age with intent to induce or force such person to perform in or be a subject of child pornography; or

2. Produces or makes or attempts or prepares to produce or make child pornography; or

3. Who knowingly takes part in or participates in the filming, photographing, or other production of child pornography by any means; or

4. Knowingly finances or attempts or prepares to finance child pornography.

5. [Repealed.]

B1. [Repealed.]

C1. Any person who violates this section, when the subject of the child pornography is a child less than 15 years of age, shall be punished by not less than five years nor more than 30 years in a state correctional facility. However, if the person is at least seven years older than the subject of the child pornography the person shall be punished by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than 30 years in a state correctional facility, five years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment. Any person who commits a second or subsequent violation of this section where the person is at least seven years older than the subject shall be punished by a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years nor more than 40 years, 15 years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.

C2. Any person who violates this section, when the subject of the child pornography is a person at least 15 but less than 18 years of age, shall be punished by not less than one year nor more than 20 years in a state correctional facility. However, if the person is at least seven years older than the subject of the child pornography the person shall be punished by term of imprisonment of not less than three years nor more than 30 years in a state correctional facility, three years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment. Any person who commits a second or subsequent violation of this section when he is at least seven years older than the subject shall be punished by a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years nor more than 30 years, 10 years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.

D. For the purposes of this section it may be inferred by text, title or appearance that a person who is depicted as or presents the appearance of being less than 18 years of age in sexually explicit visual material is less than 18 years of age.

E. Venue for a prosecution under this section may lie in the jurisdiction where the unlawful act occurs or where any sexually explicit visual material associated with a violation of this section is produced, reproduced, found, stored, or possessed.

F. The provisions of this section shall be severable and, if any of its provisions shall be held unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, then the decision of such court shall not affect or impair any of the remaining provisions.

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§ 18.2-374.3. Use of communications systems to facilitate certain offenses involving children.

A. As used in subsections C, D, and E “use a communications system” means making personal contact or direct contact through any agent or agency, any print medium, the United States mail, any common carrier or communication common carrier, any electronic communications system, the Internet, or any telecommunications, wire, computer network, or radio communications system.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person to use a communications system, including but not limited to computers or computer networks or bulletin boards, or any other electronic means for the purposes of procuring or promoting the use of a minor for any activity in violation of § 18.2-370 or § 18.2-374.1. A violation of this subsection is a Class 6 felony.

C. It shall be unlawful for any person 18 years of age or older to use a communications system, including but not limited to computers or computer networks or bulletin boards, or any other electronic means, for the purposes of soliciting, with lascivious intent, any person he knows or has reason to believe is a child less than 15 years of age to knowingly and intentionally:

1. Expose his sexual or genital parts to any child to whom he is not legally married or propose that any such child expose his sexual or genital parts to such person;

2. Propose that any such child feel or fondle the sexual or genital parts of such person or propose that such person feel or fondle the sexual or genital parts of any such child;

3. Propose to such child the performance of an act of sexual intercourse or any act constituting an offense under § 18.2-361; or

4. Entice, allure, persuade, or invite any such child to enter any vehicle, room, house, or other place, for any purposes set forth in the preceding subdivisions.

Any person who violates this subsection is guilty of a Class 5 felony. However, if the person is at least seven years older than the child he knows or has reason to believe is less than 15 years of age, the person shall be punished by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than 30 years in a state correctional facility, five years of which shall be mandatory minimum term of imprisonment. Any person who commits a second or subsequent violation of this subsection when the person is at least seven years older than the child he knows or has reason to believe is less than 15 years of age shall be punished by a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years nor more than 40 years, 10 years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.

D. Any person who uses a communications system, including but not limited to computers or computer networks or bulletin boards, or any other electronic means, for the purposes of soliciting, with lascivious intent, any child he knows or has reason to believe is at least 15 years of age but less than 18 years of age to knowingly and intentionally commit any of the activities listed in subsection C if the person is at least seven years older than the child is guilty of a Class 5 felony. Any person who commits a second or subsequent violation of this subsection shall be punished by a term of imprisonment of not less than one nor more than 20 years, one year of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.

E. Any person 18 years of age or older who uses a communications system, including but not limited to computers or computer networks or bulletin boards, or any other electronic means, for the purposes of soliciting any person he knows or has reason to believe is a child less than 18 years of age for (i) any activity in violation of § 18.2-355 or 18.2-361, (ii) any activity in violation of § 18.2-374.1, or (iii) a violation of § 18.2-374.1:1 is guilty of a Class 5 felony.

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§ 18.2-370. Taking indecent liberties with children; penalties.

A. Any person 18 years of age or over, who, with lascivious intent, knowingly and intentionally commits any of the following acts with any child under the age of 15 years is guilty of a Class 5 felony:

(1) Expose his or her sexual or genital parts to any child to whom such person is not legally married or propose that any such child expose his or her sexual or genital parts to such person; or

(2) [Repealed.]

(3) Propose that any such child feel or fondle the sexual or genital parts of such person or propose that such person feel or fondle the sexual or genital parts of any such child; or

(4) Propose to such child the performance of an act of sexual intercourse or any act constituting an offense under § 18.2-361; or

(5) Entice, allure, persuade, or invite any such child to enter any vehicle, room, house, or other place, for any of the purposes set forth in the preceding subdivisions of this section.

B. Any person 18 years of age or over who, with lascivious intent, knowingly and intentionally receives money, property, or any other remuneration for allowing, encouraging, or enticing any person under the age of 18 years to perform in or be a subject of sexually explicit visual material as defined in § 18.2-374.1 or who knowingly encourages such person to perform in or be a subject of sexually explicit material; shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.

C. Any person who is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of this section shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony; provided that (i) the offenses were not part of a common act, transaction or scheme; (ii) the accused was at liberty as defined in § 53.1-151 between each conviction; and (iii) it is admitted, or found by the jury or judge before whom the person is tried, that the accused was previously convicted of a violation of this section.

D. Any parent, step-parent, grandparent or step-grandparent who commits a violation of either this section or clause (v) or (vi) of subsection A of § 18.2-370.1 (i) upon his child, step-child, grandchild or step-grandchild who is at least 15 but less than 18 years of age is guilty of a Class 5 felony or (ii) upon his child, step-child, grandchild or step-grandchild less than 15 years of age is guilty of a Class 4 felony.

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§ 19.2-10.2. Administrative subpoena issued for record from provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service.

A. A provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service that is transacting or has transacted any business in the Commonwealth shall disclose a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service, excluding the contents of electronic communications as required by § 19.2-70.3, to an attorney for the Commonwealth pursuant to an administrative subpoena issued under this section.

1. In order to obtain such records or other information, the attorney for the Commonwealth shall certify on the face of the subpoena that there is reason to believe that the records or other information being sought are relevant to a legitimate law-enforcement investigation concerning violations of §§ 18.2-374.1, 18.2-374.1:1, former § 18.2-374.1:2, and § 18.2-374.3.

2. On a motion made promptly by the electronic communication service or remote computing service provider, a court of competent jurisdiction may quash or modify the administrative subpoena if the records or other information requested are unusually voluminous in nature or if compliance with the subpoena would otherwise cause an undue burden on the service provider.

B. All records or other information received by an attorney for the Commonwealth pursuant to an administrative subpoena issued under this section shall be used only for a reasonable length of time not to exceed 30 days and only for a legitimate law-enforcement purpose. Upon completion of the investigation the records or other information held by the attorney for the Commonwealth shall be destroyed if no prosecution is initiated.

C. No cause of action shall lie in any court against an electronic communication service or remote computing service provider, its officers, employees, agents, or other specified persons for providing information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with the terms of an administrative subpoena issued under this section.

D. Records or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service means name, address, local and long distance telephone connection records, or records of session times and durations, length of service, including start date, and types of service utilized, telephone or instrument number or other subscriber number or identity, including any temporarily assigned network address, and means and source of payment for such service.

E. Nothing in this section shall require the disclosure of information in violation of any federal law.

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§ 19.2-120. Admission to bail.

Prior to conducting any hearing on the issue of bail, release or detention, the judicial officer shall, to the extent feasible, obtain the person’s criminal history.

A. A person who is held in custody pending trial or hearing for an offense, civil or criminal contempt, or otherwise shall be admitted to bail by a judicial officer, unless there is probable cause to believe that:

1. He will not appear for trial or hearing or at such other time and place as may be directed, or

2. His liberty will constitute an unreasonable danger to himself or the public.

B. The judicial officer shall presume, subject to rebuttal, that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person or the safety of the public if the person is currently charged with:

1. An act of violence as defined in § 19.2-297.1;

2. An offense for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment or death;

3. A violation of § 18.2-248, 18.2-248.01, 18.2-255 or 18.2-255.2 involving a Schedule I or II controlled substance if (i) the maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years or more and the person was previously convicted of a like offense or (ii) the person was previously convicted as a “drug kingpin” as defined in § 18.2-248;

4. A violation of § 18.2-308.1, 18.2-308.2, or 18.2-308.4 and which relates to a firearm and provides for a mandatory minimum sentence;

5. Any felony, if the person has been convicted of two or more offenses described in subdivision 1 or 2, whether under the laws of the Commonwealth or substantially similar laws of the United States;

6. Any felony committed while the person is on release pending trial for a prior felony under federal or state law or on release pending imposition or execution of sentence or appeal of sentence or conviction;

7. An offense listed in subsection B of § 18.2-67.5:2 and the person had previously been convicted of an offense listed in § 18.2-67.5:2 or a substantially similar offense under the laws of any state or the United States and the judicial officer finds probable cause to believe that the person who is currently charged with one of these offenses committed the offense charged;

8. A violation of § 18.2-374.1 or 18.2-374.3 where the offender has reason to believe that the solicited person is under 15 years of age and the offender is at least five years older than the solicited person;

9. A violation of § 18.2-46.2, 18.2-46.3, 18.2-46.5 or 18.2-46.7;

10. A violation of § 18.2-36.1, 18.2-51.4, 18.2-266, or 46.2-341.24 and the person has, within the past five years of the instant offense, been convicted three times on different dates of a violation of any combination of these Code sections, or any ordinance of any county, city, or town or the laws of any other state or of the United States substantially similar thereto, and has been at liberty between each conviction; or

11. A second or subsequent violation of § 16.1-253.2 or a substantially similar offense under the laws of any state or the United States.

C. The judicial officer shall presume, subject to rebuttal, that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person or the safety of the public if the person is being arrested pursuant to § 19.2-81.6.

D. The court shall consider the following factors and such others as it deems appropriate in determining, for the purpose of rebuttal of the presumption against bail described in subsection B, whether there are conditions of release that will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of the public:

1. The nature and circumstances of the offense charged;

2. The history and characteristics of the person, including his character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, membership in a criminal street gang as defined in § 18.2-46.1, and record concerning appearance at court proceedings; and

3. The nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the person’s release.

E. The judicial officer shall inform the person of his right to appeal from the order denying bail or fixing terms of bond or recognizance consistent with § 19.2-124.

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§ 19.2-386.31. Seizure and forfeiture of property used in connection with the exploitation and solicitation of children.

All audio and visual equipment, electronic equipment, devices and other personal property used in connection with the possession, production, distribution, publication, sale, possession with intent to distribute or making of child pornography that constitutes a violation of § 18.2-374.1 or 18.2-374.1:1, or in connection with the solicitation of a person less than 18 years of age that constitutes a violation of § 18.2-374.3 shall be subject to lawful seizure by a law-enforcement officer and shall be subject to forfeiture to the Commonwealth pursuant to Chapter 22 (§ 19.2-369 et seq.) of this title by order of the court in which a conviction under § 18.2-374.1, 18.2-374.1:1, or 18.2-374.3 is obtained. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 19.2-381, the court shall dispose of the forfeited property as it deems proper, including awarding the property to the agency seizing such property or to a state agency for lawful purposes. If the property is disposed of by sale, the court shall provide that the proceeds be paid into the Literary Fund.

A forfeiture under this section shall not extinguish the rights of any person without knowledge of the illegal use of the property who (i) is the lawful owner or (ii) has a valid and perfected lien on the property.

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§ 19.2-390.3. Child Pornography Images Registry; maintenance; access.

A. The Office of the Attorney General, in cooperation with the Department of State Police, shall keep and maintain a Child Pornography Registry to be located within the State Police, separate and apart from all other records maintained by either department. The purpose of the Registry shall be to assist the efforts of law-enforcement agencies statewide to protect their communities from repeat child pornographers and to protect children from becoming victims of criminal offenders by aiding in identifying victims and perpetrators. Criminal justice agencies, including law-enforcement agencies, may request of the State Police a search and comparison of child pornography images contained within the Registry with those images obtained by criminal justice agencies during the course of official investigations.

B. The Registry shall include images of sexually explicit visual material in any form including any picture, photograph, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film, digital image or similar visual representation, presented as evidence and used in any conviction for any offense enumerated in §§ 18.2-374.1 and 18.2-374.1:1.

C. Registry information provided under this section shall be used for the purposes of the administration of criminal justice or for the protection of the public in general and children in particular. Use of the information or the images contained therein for purposes not authorized by this section is prohibited and a willful violation of this section with the intent to harass or intimidate another shall be punished as a Class 6 felony.

D. The Virginia Criminal Information Network and any form or document used by the Department of State Police to disseminate information from the Registry shall provide notice that any unauthorized possession, use or dissemination of the information or images is a crime punishable as a Class 6 felony.

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Contact a Virginia Internet Sex Crimes Lawyer

Virginia (VA) criminal defense, divorce, child custody, reckless driving, dui and federal court attorney representing clients throughout Virginia. Some of the jurisdictions served include:

Henrico County VA, Richmond City, Chesterfield County VA, Hanover County VA, Petersburg County VA, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Quantico, Virginia Beach VA, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania VA, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa, Manassas VA, Woodbridge, Charles City, James City, Gloucester, Tidewater, Portsmouth, Shenandoah, Prince George, Sussex, New Kent, West End of Richmond, Glen Allen, Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News Divisions). Continue reading

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Virginia Computer Crimes

Virginia Computer Crime Defense

If you are accused of a Virginia computer crime or a Virginia Internet sex crime, we can offer truly unique representation. Based on our research, attorney Domingo Rivera is the only criminal defense attorney in Virginia with a professional degree and experience in Computer Engineering, an M.B.A. with specialty in Information Technology, and experience with the Department of Defense. Mr. Rivera is competent in the legal, technical, and computer forensics aspects related to Virginia computer crimes or Internet crime accusations. To represent you properly, your defense lawyer must not only be well versed in trial techniques but must also be able to command the subject matter underlying computer and Internet crime accusations.

Contact a Virginia computer crime defense lawyer.

Virginia (VA) criminal defense, divorce, child custody, reckless driving, dui and federal court attorney representing clients throughout Virginia. Some of the jurisdictions served include:

Henrico County VA, Richmond City, Chesterfield County VA, Hanover County VA, Petersburg County VA, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Quantico, Virginia Beach VA, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania VA, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa, Manassas VA, Woodbridge, Charles City, James City, Gloucester, Tidewater, Portsmouth, Shenandoah, Prince George, Sussex, New Kent, West End of Richmond, Glen Allen, Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News Divisions). Continue reading

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Virginia DUI or DWI

Virginia DUI / DWI Defense Lawyer

In Virginia, DWI is classified as a class 1 misdemeanor carrying a potential maximum of one year in jail, $2,500.00 in fines, civil remedial fees, and driver’s license suspension.

Depending on the blood alcohol levels, a DWI conviction may carry a mandatory minimum jail sentence. In Virginia, if the blood alcohol level (BAC) of the accused was between 0.15 and 0.20, there is a mandatory 5-day jail sentence. If the BAC level was above 0.20, there is a mandatory 10-day jail sentence. Additionally, a second DWI conviction in Virginia within 10 years carries a mandatory 10-day jail sentence. A second DWI conviction in Virginia within 5 years carries a mandatory 20-day jail sentence. A third DWI conviction in Virginia within 10 years carries mandatory jail of six months. Four or more convictions of DWI in Virginia within 10 years of a prior conviction carry a mandatory one-year in jail.

A person may be convicted of DWI if the Commonwealth of Virginia can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Generally, to prove a DWI case in Virginia, the prosecutors will reference the accused driving patterns and the result of the breath test.

Under Virginia DWI laws, if a person refuses to submit to a breath or alcohol test at the police station after being arrested, the person may face additional criminal charges plus an additional driver’s license suspension, if convicted of DWI in Virginia. Refusal to submit to the test carries with it the possibility of a six-month jail sentence.

A Virginia DWI attorney is well-versed in Virginia DWI laws and can provide you with a competent defense if you are facing DWI charges in Virginia.

The relevant Virginia DWI statute states:

§ 18.2-266. Driving motor vehicle, engine, etc., while intoxicated, etc. It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train (i) while such person has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more by weight by volume or 0.08 grams or more per 210 liters of breath as indicated by a chemical test administered as provided in this article, (ii) while such person is under the influence of alcohol, (iii) while such person is under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug of whatsoever nature, or any combination of such drugs, to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train safely, or (iv) while such person is under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug or drugs to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train safely. A charge alleging a violation of this section shall support a conviction under clauses (i), (ii), (iii) or (iv). For the purposes of this section, the term “motor vehicle” includes mopeds, while operated on the public highways of this Commonwealth.

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Under Virginia DWI Law, a person operating a vehicle in the highways of the Commonwealth, the driver is implied to have consented to providing blood and/or breath samples to determine alcohol content. The relevant statute provides:

§ 18.2-268.2. Implied consent to post-arrest testing to determine drug or alcohol content of blood.

A. Any person, whether licensed by Virginia or not, who operates a motor vehicle upon a highway, as defined in § 46.2-100, in the Commonwealth shall be deemed thereby, as a condition of such operation, to have consented to have samples of his blood, breath, or both blood and breath taken for a chemical test to determine the alcohol, drug, or both alcohol and drug content of his blood, if he is arrested for violation of § 18.2-266, 18.2-266.1, or subsection B of § 18.2-272 or of a similar ordinance within three hours of the alleged offense.

B. Any person so arrested for a violation of clause (i) or (ii) of § 18.2-266 or both, § 18.2-266.1 or subsection B of § 18.2-272 or of a similar ordinance shall submit to a breath test. If the breath test is unavailable or the person is physically unable to submit to the breath test, a blood test shall be given. The accused shall, prior to administration of the test, be advised by the person administering the test that he has the right to observe the process of analysis and to see the blood-alcohol reading on the equipment used to perform the breath test. If the equipment automatically produces a written printout of the breath test result, the printout, or a copy, shall be given to the accused.

C. A person, after having been arrested for a violation of clause (iii), (iv), or (v) of § 18.2-266 or § 18.2-266.1 or subsection B of § 18.2-272 or of a similar ordinance, may be required to submit to a blood test to determine the drug or both drug and alcohol content of his blood. When a person, after having been arrested for a violation of § 18.2-266 (i) or (ii) or both, submits to a breath test in accordance with subsection B or refuses to take or is incapable of taking such a breath test, he may be required to submit to tests to determine the drug or both drug and alcohol content of his blood if the law-enforcement officer has reasonable cause to believe the person was driving under the influence of any drug or combination of drugs, or the combined influence of alcohol and drugs.

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For drivers under the age of twenty one, the Virginia DWI statute states:

§ 18.2-266.1. Persons under age twenty-one driving after illegally consuming alcohol; penalty.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person under the age of twenty-one to operate any motor vehicle after illegally consuming alcohol. Any such person with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 percent or more by weight by volume or 0.02 grams or more per 210 liters of breath but less than 0.08 by weight by volume or less than 0.08 grams per 210 liters of breath as indicated by a chemical test administered as provided in this article shall be in violation of this section.

B. A violation of this section shall be punishable by forfeiture of such person’s license to operate a motor vehicle for a period of six months from the date of conviction and by a fine of not more than $500. The penalties and license forfeiture provisions set forth in §§ 16.1-278.9, 18.2-270 and 18.2-271 shall not apply to a violation of this section. Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall be eligible to attend an Alcohol Safety Action Program under the provisions of § 18.2-271.1 and may, in the discretion of the court, be issued a restricted license during the term of license suspension.

C. Notwithstanding §§ 16.1-278.8 and 16.1-278.9, upon adjudicating a juvenile delinquent based upon a violation of this section, the juvenile and domestic relations district court shall order disposition as provided in subsection B.

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If you are pulled over for a DWI, you may be subjected to a field sobriety test and may be asked to submit to a field breath test. You may refuse to submit to the field test but refusing to submit to the breathalizer at the station is a class one misdemeanor. The preliminary breath analysis statute states:

§ 18.2-267. Preliminary analysis of breath to determine alcoholic content of blood.

A. Any person who is suspected of a violation of § 18.2-266, 18.2-266.1, subsection B of § 18.2-272, or a similar ordinance shall be entitled, if such equipment is available, to have his breath analyzed to determine the probable alcoholic content of his blood. The person shall also be entitled, upon request, to observe the process of analysis and to see the blood-alcohol reading on the equipment used to perform the breath test. His breath may be analyzed by any police officer of the Commonwealth, or of any county, city or town, or by any member of a sheriff’s department in the normal discharge of his duties.

B. The Department of Forensic Science shall determine the proper method and equipment to be used in analyzing breath samples taken pursuant to this section and shall advise the respective police and sheriff’s departments of the same.

C. Any person who has been stopped by a police officer of the Commonwealth, or of any county, city or town, or by any member of a sheriff’s department and is suspected by such officer to be guilty of an offense listed in subsection A, shall have the right to refuse to permit his breath to be so analyzed, and his failure to permit such analysis shall not be evidence in any prosecution for an offense listed in subsection A.

D. Whenever the breath sample analysis indicates that alcohol is present in the person’s blood, the officer may charge the person with a violation of an offense listed in subsection A. The person so charged shall then be subject to the provisions of §§ 18.2-268.1 through 18.2-268.12, or of a similar ordinance.

E. The results of the breath analysis shall not be admitted into evidence in any prosecution for an offense listed in subsection A, the purpose of this section being to permit a preliminary analysis of the alcoholic content of the blood of a person suspected of having committed an offense listed in subsection A.

F. Police officers or members of any sheriff’s department shall, upon stopping any person suspected of having committed an offense listed in subsection A, advise the person of his rights under the provisions of this section.

G. Nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the provisions of §§ 18.2-268.1 through 18.2-268.12.

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As discussed above, refusal to submit to a breath or blood test at the station is a separate crime. The relevant statute provides:

§ 18.2-268.3. Refusal of tests; penalties; procedures.

A. It shall be unlawful for a person who is arrested for a violation of § 18.2-266, 18.2-266.1, or subsection B of § 18.2-272 or of a similar ordinance to unreasonably refuse to have samples of his blood or breath or both blood and breath taken for chemical tests to determine the alcohol or drug content of his blood as required by § 18.2-268.2 and any person who so unreasonably refuses is guilty of a violation of this section.

B. When a person is arrested for a violation of § 18.2-51.4, 18.2-266, 18.2-266.1 or, subsection B of § 18.2-272 or of a similar ordinance and such person refuses to permit blood or breath or both blood and breath samples to be taken for testing as required by § 18.2-268.2, the arresting officer shall advise the person, from a form provided by the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court, that (i) a person who operates a motor vehicle upon a highway in the Commonwealth is deemed thereby, as a condition of such operation, to have consented to have samples of his blood and breath taken for chemical tests to determine the alcohol or drug content of his blood, (ii) a finding of unreasonable refusal to consent may be admitted as evidence at a criminal trial, (iii) the unreasonable refusal to do so constitutes grounds for the revocation of the privilege of operating a motor vehicle upon the highways of the Commonwealth, (iv) the criminal penalty for unreasonable refusal within 10 years of a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated or unreasonable refusal is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and (v) the criminal penalty for unreasonable refusal within 10 years of any two prior convictions for driving while intoxicated or unreasonable refusal is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The form from which the arresting officer shall advise the person arrested shall contain a brief statement of the law requiring the taking of blood or breath samples, a statement that a finding of unreasonable refusal to consent may be admitted as evidence at a criminal trial, and the penalties for refusal.

C. The arresting officer shall, under oath before the magistrate, execute the form and certify, (i) that the defendant has refused to permit blood or breath or both blood and breath samples to be taken for testing; (ii) that the officer has read the portion of the form described in subsection B to the arrested person; (iii) that the arrested person, after having had the portion of the form described in subsection B read to him, has refused to permit such sample or samples to be taken; and (iv) how many, if any, violations of this section, § 18.2-266, or any offense described in subsection E of § 18.2-270 the arrested person has been convicted of within the last 10 years. Such sworn certification shall constitute probable cause for the magistrate to issue a warrant or summons charging the person with unreasonable refusal. The magistrate shall attach the executed and sworn advisement form to the warrant or summons. The warrant or summons for a first offense under this section shall be executed in the same manner as a criminal warrant or summons. If the person arrested has been taken to a medical facility for treatment or evaluation of his medical condition, the arresting officer may read the advisement form to the person at the medical facility, and issue, on the premises of the medical facility, a summons for a violation of this section in lieu of securing a warrant or summons from the magistrate. The magistrate or arresting officer, as the case may be, shall forward the executed advisement form and warrant or summons to the appropriate court.

D. A first violation of this section is a civil offense and subsequent violations are criminal offenses. For a first offense the court shall suspend the defendant’s privilege to drive for a period of one year. This suspension period is in addition to the suspension period provided under § 46.2-391.2.

If a person is found to have violated this section and within 10 years prior to the date of the refusal he was found guilty of any of the following: a violation of this section, a violation of § 18.2-266, or a violation of any offense listed in subsection E of § 18.2-270, arising out of separate occurrences or incidents, he is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor and the court shall suspend the defendant’s privilege to drive for a period of three years. This suspension period is in addition to the suspension period provided under § 46.2-391.2.

If a person is found guilty of a violation of this section and within 10 years prior to the date of the refusal he was found guilty of any two of the following: a violation of this section, a violation of § 18.2-266, or a violation of any offense listed in subsection E of § 18.2-270 arising out of separate occurrences or incidents, he is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and the court shall suspend the defendant’s privilege to drive for a period of three years. This suspension period is in addition to the suspension period provided under § 46.2-391.2.

Contact a Virginia DUI / DWI lawyer

Virginia (VA) criminal defense, divorce, child custody, reckless driving, dui and federal court attorney representing clients throughout Virginia. Some of the jurisdictions served include:

Henrico County VA, Richmond City, Chesterfield County VA, Hanover County VA, Petersburg County VA, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Quantico, Virginia Beach VA, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania VA, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa, Manassas VA, Woodbridge, Charles City, James City, Gloucester, Tidewater, Portsmouth, Shenandoah, Prince George, Sussex, New Kent, West End of Richmond, Glen Allen, Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News Divisions). Continue reading

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Virginia Misdemeanor

Virginia Misdemeanor

Virginia misdemeanors are punished up to a maximum of one year in jail and $250.00 in fines. Virginia misdemeanors are classified as follows.

Class 1 Misdemeanor – Maximum Punishment = 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines

Class 1 Misdemeanor – Maximum Punishment = 6 months in jail and $1,000 in fines

Class 3 Misdemeanor – Maximum Punishment = $500 in fines

Class 3 Misdemeanor – Maximum Punishment = $250 in fines

Some misdemeanor charges in Virginia may include:

* possession of marijuana and other misdemeanor drug crimes
* Petit (Petty) larceny, shop lifting, and other misdemeanor theft crimes
* Assault and battery, and domestic assault and battery (domestic violence)
* Reckless Driving, DWI / DUI, Driving on a Suspended License, and other traffic offenses
* Destruction of private property or destruction of public property
* Trespassing
* Stalking

Contact a Virginia misdemeanor defense lawyer

Virginia (VA) criminal defense, divorce, child custody, reckless driving, dui and federal court attorney representing clients throughout Virginia. Some of the jurisdictions served include:

Henrico County VA, Richmond City, Chesterfield County VA, Hanover County VA, Petersburg County VA, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Quantico, Virginia Beach VA, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania VA, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa, Manassas VA, Woodbridge, Charles City, James City, Gloucester, Tidewater, Portsmouth, Shenandoah, Prince George, Sussex, New Kent, West End of Richmond, Glen Allen, Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News Divisions). Continue reading

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Virginia Drug Charges

Virginia Drug Charge Defense Lawyer

In Virginia, a first offense for possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail. A subsequent conviction becomes a class 1 misdemeanor. In Virginia, to secure a conviction for possession of marijuana, the Commonwealth must prove that the accused was in possession and must also produce lab results certifying that the substance was marijuana. Other drugs which may result in the filing of criminal charges include Heroin, Cocaine, Ecstasy, methamphetamine, and LSD. Independent of the charge, our Virginia drug crime defense lawyers can provide a aggressive defense.

Other Virginia drug criminal charges may include:

* Drug distribution
* Conspiracy to distribute drugs
* Possession of a controlled substance
* Transporting a controlled substance into Virginia
* Manufacturing of controlled substance or manufacturing of drugs
* Drug trafficking and drug importation
* Possession with intent to sell or distribute narcotics
* Possession with intent to sell marijuana
* Possession, manufacturing or distribution of drugs in school or other public property
* Possession of Marijuana
* Possession of a firearm while in possession of a controlled substance

Possession of a controlled substance

§ 18.2-250. Possession of controlled substances unlawful.

A. It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled substance unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.).

Upon the prosecution of a person for a violation of this section, ownership or occupancy of premises or vehicle upon or in which a controlled substance was found shall not create a presumption that such person either knowingly or intentionally possessed such controlled substance.

(a) Any person who violates this section with respect to any controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II of the Drug Control Act shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.

(b) Any person other than an inmate of a penal institution as defined in § 53.1-1 or in the custody of an employee thereof, who violates this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule III shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(b1) Violation of this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule IV shall be punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor.

(b2) Violation of this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule V shall be punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.

(c) Violation of this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule VI shall be punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor.

B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to members of state, federal, county, city or town law-enforcement agencies, jail officers, or correctional officers, as defined in § 53.1-1, certified as handlers of dogs trained in the detection of controlled substances when possession of a controlled substance or substances is necessary in the performance of their duties.

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Transporting a controlled substance into Virginia

§ 18.2-248.01. Transporting controlled substances into the Commonwealth; penalty.

Except as authorized in the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.) it is unlawful for any person to transport into the Commonwealth by any means with intent to sell or distribute one ounce or more of cocaine, coca leaves or any salt, compound, derivative or preparation thereof as described in Schedule II of the Drug Control Act or one ounce or more of any other Schedule I or II controlled substance or five or more pounds of marijuana. A violation of this section shall constitute a separate and distinct felony. Upon conviction, the person shall be sentenced to not less than five years nor more than 40 years imprisonment, three years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment, and a fine not to exceed $1,000,000. A second or subsequent conviction hereunder shall be punishable by a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, which shall be served consecutively with any other sentence.

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Manufacturing of controlled substance or manufacturing of drugs

§ 18.2-248. Manufacturing, selling, giving, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute a controlled substance or an imitation controlled substance prohibited; penalties.

A. Except as authorized in the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.), it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, give, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture, sell, give or distribute a controlled substance or an imitation controlled substance.

B. In determining whether any person intends to manufacture, sell, give or distribute an imitation controlled substance, the court may consider, in addition to all other relevant evidence, whether any distribution or attempted distribution of such pill, capsule, tablet or substance in any other form whatsoever included an exchange of or a demand for money or other property as consideration, and, if so, whether the amount of such consideration was substantially greater than the reasonable value of such pill, capsule, tablet or substance in any other form whatsoever, considering the actual chemical composition of such pill, capsule, tablet or substance in any other form whatsoever and, where applicable, the price at which over-the-counter substances of like chemical composition sell.

C. Except as provided in subsection C1, any person who violates this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II shall upon conviction be imprisoned for not less than five nor more than 40 years and fined not more than $500,000. Upon a second or subsequent conviction of such a violation, any such person may, in the discretion of the court or jury imposing the sentence, be sentenced to imprisonment for life or for any period not less than five years and be fined not more than $500,000.

When a person is convicted of a third or subsequent offense under this subsection and it is alleged in the warrant, indictment or information that he has been before convicted of two or more such offenses or of substantially similar offenses in any other jurisdiction which offenses would be felonies if committed in the Commonwealth and such prior convictions occurred before the date of the offense alleged in the warrant, indictment, or information, he shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life or for a period of not less than five years, five years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment to be served consecutively with any other sentence and he shall be fined not more than $500,000.

Any person who manufactures, sells, gives, distributes or possesses with the intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute the following is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than $1 million and imprisonment for five years to life, five years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment to be served consecutively with any other sentence:

1. 100 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin;

2. 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of:

a. Coca leaves, except coca leaves and extracts of coca leaves from which cocaine, ecgonine, and derivatives of ecgonine or their salts have been removed;

b. Cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers;

c. Ecgonine, its derivatives, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers; or

d. Any compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any quantity of any of the substances referred to in subdivisions 2a through 2c;

3. 250 grams or more of a mixture or substance described in subdivisions 2a through 2d that contain cocaine base; or

4. 10 grams or more of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers or 20 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers.

The mandatory minimum term of imprisonment to be imposed for a violation of this subsection shall not be applicable if the court finds that:

a. The person does not have a prior conviction for an offense listed in subsection C of § 17.1-805;

b. The person did not use violence or credible threats of violence or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon in connection with the offense or induce another participant in the offense to do so;

c. The offense did not result in death or serious bodily injury to any person;

d. The person was not an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of others in the offense, and was not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise as defined in subsection I; and

e. Not later than the time of the sentencing hearing, the person has truthfully provided to the Commonwealth all information and evidence the person has concerning the offense or offenses that were part of the same course of conduct or of a common scheme or plan, but the fact that the person has no relevant or useful other information to provide or that the Commonwealth already is aware of the information shall not preclude a determination by the court that the defendant has complied with this requirement.

C1. Any person who violates this section with respect to the manufacturing of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers or less than 200 grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned for not less than 10 nor more than 40 years and fined not more than $500,000. Upon a second conviction of such a violation, any such person may, in the discretion of the court or jury imposing the sentence, be sentenced to imprisonment for life or for any period not less than 10 years, and be fined not more than $500,000. When a person is convicted of a third or subsequent offense under this subsection and it is alleged in the warrant, indictment, or information that he has been previously convicted of two or more such offenses or of substantially similar offenses in any other jurisdiction, which offenses would be felonies if committed in the Commonwealth and such prior convictions occurred before the date of the offense alleged in the warrant, indictment, or information, he shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life or for a period not less than 10 years, three years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment to be served consecutively with any other sentence and he shall be fined not more than $500,000. Upon conviction, in addition to any other punishment, a person found guilty of this offense shall be ordered by the court to make restitution, as the court deems appropriate, to any innocent property owner whose property is damaged, destroyed, or otherwise rendered unusable as a result of such methamphetamine production. This restitution may include the person’s or his estate’s estimated or actual expenses associated with cleanup, removal, or repair of the affected property.

D. If such person proves that he gave, distributed or possessed with intent to give or distribute a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II only as an accommodation to another individual who is not an inmate in a community correctional facility, local correctional facility or state correctional facility as defined in § 53.1-1 or in the custody of an employee thereof, and not with intent to profit thereby from any consideration received or expected nor to induce the recipient or intended recipient of the controlled substance to use or become addicted to or dependent upon such controlled substance, he shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.

E. If the violation of the provisions of this article consists of the filling by a pharmacist of the prescription of a person authorized under this article to issue the same, which prescription has not been received in writing by the pharmacist prior to the filling thereof, and such written prescription is in fact received by the pharmacist within one week of the time of filling the same, or if such violation consists of a request by such authorized person for the filling by a pharmacist of a prescription which has not been received in writing by the pharmacist and such prescription is, in fact, written at the time of such request and delivered to the pharmacist within one week thereof, either such offense shall constitute a Class 4 misdemeanor.

E1. Any person who violates this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule III except for an anabolic steroid classified in Schedule III, constituting a violation of § 18.2-248.5, shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.

E2. Any person who violates this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule IV shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

E3. Any person who proves that he gave, distributed or possessed with the intent to give or distribute a controlled substance classified in Schedule III or IV, except for an anabolic steroid classified in Schedule III, constituting a violation of § 18.2-248.5, only as an accommodation to another individual who is not an inmate in a community correctional facility, local correctional facility or state correctional facility as defined in § 53.1-1 or in the custody of an employee thereof, and not with the intent to profit thereby from any consideration received or expected nor to induce the recipient or intended recipient of the controlled substance to use or become addicted to or dependent upon such controlled substance, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

F. Any person who violates this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule V or an imitation controlled substance which imitates a controlled substance classified in Schedule V, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

G. Any person who violates this section with respect to an imitation controlled substance which imitates a controlled substance classified in Schedule I, II, III or IV shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. In any prosecution brought under this subsection, it is not a defense to a violation of this subsection that the defendant believed the imitation controlled substance to actually be a controlled substance.

H. Any person who manufactures, sells, gives, distributes or possesses with the intent to manufacture, sell, give or distribute the following:

1. 1.0 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin;

2. 5.0 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of:

a. Coca leaves, except coca leaves and extracts of coca leaves from which cocaine, ecgonine, and derivatives of ecgonine or their salts have been removed;

b. Cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers;

c. Ecgonine, its derivatives, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers; or

d. Any compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of any of the substances referred to in subdivisions a through c;

3. 2.5 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance described in subdivision 2 which contains cocaine base;

4. 100 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana; or

5. 100 grams or more of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers or 200 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers shall be guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than $1 million and imprisonment for 20 years to life, 20 years of which shall be a mandatory minimum sentence. Such mandatory minimum sentence shall not be applicable if the court finds that (i) the person does not have a prior conviction for an offense listed in subsection C of § 17.1-805; (ii) the person did not use violence or credible threats of violence or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon in connection with the offense or induce another participant in the offense to do so; (iii) the offense did not result in death or serious bodily injury to any person; (iv) the person was not an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of others in the offense, and was not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise as defined in subsection I of this section; and (v) not later than the time of the sentencing hearing, the person has truthfully provided to the Commonwealth all information and evidence the person has concerning the offense or offenses that were part of the same course of conduct or of a common scheme or plan, but the fact that the person has no relevant or useful other information to provide or that the Commonwealth already is aware of the information shall not preclude a determination by the court that the defendant has complied with this requirement.

H1. Any person who was the principal or one of several principal administrators, organizers or leaders of a continuing criminal enterprise shall be guilty of a felony if (i) the enterprise received at least $100,000 but less than $250,000 in gross receipts during any 12-month period of its existence from the manufacture, importation, or distribution of heroin or cocaine or ecgonine or methamphetamine or the derivatives, salts, isomers, or salts of isomers thereof or marijuana or (ii) the person engaged in the enterprise to manufacture, sell, give, distribute or possess with the intent to manufacture, sell, give or distribute the following during any 12-month period of its existence:

1. At least 1.0 kilograms but less than 5.0 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin;

2. At least 5.0 kilograms but less than 10 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of:

a. Coca leaves, except coca leaves and extracts of coca leaves from which cocaine, ecgonine, and derivatives of ecgonine or their salts have been removed;

b. Cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers;

c. Ecgonine, its derivatives, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers; or

d. Any compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of any of the substances referred to in subdivisions a through c;

3. At least 2.5 kilograms but less than 5.0 kilograms of a mixture or substance described in subdivision 2 which contains cocaine base;

4. At least 100 kilograms but less than 250 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana; or

5. At least 100 grams but less than 250 grams of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers or at least 200 grams but less than 1.0 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers.

A conviction under this section shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $1 million and imprisonment for 20 years to life, 20 years of which shall be a mandatory minimum sentence.

H2. Any person who was the principal or one of several principal administrators, organizers or leaders of a continuing criminal enterprise if (i) the enterprise received $250,000 or more in gross receipts during any 12-month period of its existence from the manufacture, importation, or distribution of heroin or cocaine or ecgonine or methamphetamine or the derivatives, salts, isomers, or salts of isomers thereof or marijuana or (ii) the person engaged in the enterprise to manufacture, sell, give, distribute or possess with the intent to manufacture, sell, give or distribute the following during any 12-month period of its existence:

1. At least 5.0 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin;

2. At least 10 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of:

a. Coca leaves, except coca leaves and extracts of coca leaves from which cocaine, ecgonine, and derivatives of ecgonine or their salts have been removed;

b. Cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers;

c. Ecgonine, its derivatives, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers; or

d. Any compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of any of the substances referred to in subdivisions a through c;

3. At least 5.0 kilograms of a mixture or substance described in subdivision 2 which contains cocaine base;

4. At least 250 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana; or

5. At least 250 grams of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers or at least 1.0 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers shall be guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than $1 million and imprisonment for life, which shall be served with no suspension in whole or in part. Such punishment shall be made to run consecutively with any other sentence. However, the court may impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 years if the court finds that the defendant substantially cooperated with law-enforcement authorities.

I. For purposes of this section, a person is engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise if (i) he violates any provision of this section, the punishment for which is a felony and either (ii) such violation is a part of a continuing series of violations of this section which are undertaken by such person in concert with five or more other persons with respect to whom such person occupies a position of organizer, a supervisory position, or any other position of management, and from which such person obtains substantial income or resources or (iii) such violation is committed, with respect to methamphetamine or other controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II, for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang as defined in § 18.2-46.1.

J. Except as authorized in the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.), any person who possesses any two or more different substances listed below with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, methcathinone or amphetamine is guilty of a Class 6 felony: liquified ammonia gas, ether, hypophosphorus acid solutions, hypophosphite salts, hydrochloric acid, iodine crystals or tincture of iodine, phenylacetone, phenylacetic acid, red phosphorus, methylamine, methyl formamide, lithium metal, sodium metal, sulfuric acid, sodium hydroxide, potassium dichromate, sodium dichromate, potassium permanganate, chromium trioxide, methylbenzene, methamphetamine precursor drugs, trichloroethane, or 2-propanone.

K. The term “methamphetamine precursor drug,” when used in this article, means a drug or product containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine or any of their salts, optical isomers, or salts of optical isomers.

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Possession with intent to sell marijuana

§ 18.2-248.1. Penalties for sale, gift, distribution or possession with intent to sell, give or distribute marijuana.

Except as authorized in the Drug Control Act, Chapter 34 of Title 54.1, it shall be unlawful for any person to sell, give, distribute or possess with intent to sell, give or distribute marijuana.

(a) Any person who violates this section with respect to:

(1) Not more than one-half ounce of marijuana is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor;

(2) More than one-half ounce but not more than five pounds of marijuana is guilty of a Class 5 felony;

(3) More than five pounds of marijuana is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment of not less than five nor more than 30 years.

If such person proves that he gave, distributed or possessed with intent to give or distribute marijuana only as an accommodation to another individual and not with intent to profit thereby from any consideration received or expected nor to induce the recipient or intended recipient of the marijuana to use or become addicted to or dependent upon such marijuana, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(b) Any person who gives, distributes or possesses marijuana as an accommodation and not with intent to profit thereby, to an inmate of a state or local correctional facility as defined in § 53.1-1, or in the custody of an employee thereof shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.

(c) Any person who manufactures marijuana, or possesses marijuana with the intent to manufacture such substance, not for his own use is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment of not less than five nor more than 30 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

(d) When a person is convicted of a third or subsequent felony offense under this section and it is alleged in the warrant, indictment or information that he has been before convicted of two or more felony offenses under this section or of substantially similar offenses in any other jurisdiction which offenses would be felonies if committed in the Commonwealth and such prior convictions occurred before the date of the offense alleged in the warrant, indictment or information, he shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life or for any period not less than five years, five years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment to be served consecutively with any other sentence and he shall be fined not more than $500,000.

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Possession, manufacturing or distribution of drugs in school or other public property

§ 18.2-255.2. Prohibiting the sale or manufacture of drugs on or near certain properties; penalty.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell or distribute or possess with intent to sell, give or distribute any controlled substance, imitation controlled substance or marijuana while:

(i) upon the property, including buildings and grounds, of any public or private elementary, secondary, or post secondary school, or any public or private two-year or four-year institution of higher education, or any clearly marked licensed child day center as defined in § 63.2-100;

(ii) upon public property or any property open to public use within 1,000 feet of the property described in clause (i);

(iii) on any school bus as defined in § 46.2-100;

(iv) upon a designated school bus stop, or upon either public property or any property open to public use which is within 1,000 feet of such school bus stop, during the time when school children are waiting to be picked up and transported to or are being dropped off from school or a school-sponsored activity;

(v) upon the property, including buildings and grounds, of any publicly owned or publicly operated recreation or community center facility or any public library; or

(vi) upon the property of any state facility as defined in § 37.2-100 or upon public property or property open to public use within 1,000 feet of such an institution. It is a violation of the provisions of this section if the person possessed the controlled substance, imitation controlled substance or marijuana on the property described in clauses (i) through (vi) of this subsection, regardless of where the person intended to sell, give or distribute the controlled substance, imitation controlled substance or marijuana. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the authorized distribution of controlled substances.

B. Violation of this section shall constitute a separate and distinct felony. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned for a term of not less than one year nor more than five years and fined not more than $100,000. A second or subsequent conviction hereunder for an offense involving a controlled substance classified in Schedule I, II, or III of the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.) or more than one-half ounce of marijuana shall be punished by a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one year to be served consecutively with any other sentence. However, if such person proves that he sold such controlled substance or marijuana only as an accommodation to another individual and not with intent to profit thereby from any consideration received or expected nor to induce the recipient or intended recipient of the controlled substance or marijuana to use or become addicted to or dependent upon such controlled substance or marijuana, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

C. If a person commits an act violating the provisions of this section, and the same act also violates another provision of law that provides for penalties greater than those provided for by this section, then nothing in this section shall prohibit or bar any prosecution or proceeding under that other provision of law or the imposition of any penalties provided for thereby.

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Possession of Marijuana

§ 18.2-250.1. Possession of marijuana unlawful.

A. It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess marijuana unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.).

Upon the prosecution of a person for violation of this section, ownership or occupancy of the premises or vehicle upon or in which marijuana was found shall not create a presumption that such person either knowingly or intentionally possessed such marijuana.

Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and be confined in jail not more than thirty days and a fine of not more than $500, either or both; any person, upon a second or subsequent conviction of a violation of this section, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to members of state, federal, county, city or town law-enforcement agencies, jail officers, or correctional officers, as defined in § 53.1-1, certified as handlers of dogs trained in the detection of controlled substances when possession of marijuana is necessary for the performance of their duties.

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Possession of a firearm while in possession of a controlled substance

§ 18.2-308.4. Possession of firearms while in possession of certain controlled substances.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person unlawfully in possession of a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II of the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.) of Title 54.1 to simultaneously with knowledge and intent possess any firearm. A violation of this subsection is a Class 6 felony and constitutes a separate and distinct felony.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person unlawfully in possession of a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II of the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.) to simultaneously with knowledge and intent possess any firearm on or about his person. A violation of this subsection is a Class 6 felony and constitutes a separate and distinct felony and any person convicted hereunder shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of two years. Such punishment shall be separate and apart from, and shall be made to run consecutively with, any punishment received for the commission of the primary felony.

C. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess, use, or attempt to use any pistol, shotgun, rifle, or other firearm or display such weapon in a threatening manner while committing or attempting to commit the illegal manufacture, sale, distribution, or the possession with the intent to manufacture, sell, or distribute a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or Schedule II of the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.) of Title 54.1 or more than one pound of marijuana. A violation of this subsection is a Class 6 felony, and constitutes a separate and distinct felony and any person convicted hereunder shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years. Such punishment shall be separate and apart from, and shall be made to run consecutively with, any punishment received for the commission of the primary felony.

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For a competent and aggressive defense against Virginia drug charges, contact a Virginia drug charge defense attorney.

Virginia (VA) criminal defense, divorce, child custody, reckless driving, dui and federal court attorney representing clients throughout Virginia. Some of the jurisdictions served include:

Henrico County VA, Richmond City, Chesterfield County VA, Hanover County VA, Petersburg County VA, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Quantico, Virginia Beach VA, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania VA, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa, Manassas VA, Woodbridge, Charles City, James City, Gloucester, Tidewater, Portsmouth, Shenandoah, Prince George, Sussex, New Kent, West End of Richmond, Glen Allen, Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News Divisions). Continue reading

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