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Avvo Client's Choice Award 2019 - Matthew Richard Crowley
Avvo Client's Choice Award 2019 - Seth Quint Peritz

By Andrew Criado, Senior Attorney

How long can a traffic stop be?

If the police observe a traffic violation, they may stop the car. But how long can that stop last? Surprisingly, until 2015 there wasn’t a clear legal answer to this common situation. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed this question in Rodriguez v. United States. Rodriguez had been stopped by the police for driving on the shoulder of a roadway. The officer spoke to Rodriguez, obtained his information, ran his license, and then issued him a ticket. After the officer issued the ticket, however, he didn’t let Rodriguez go. The officer instead held Rodriguez on the scene and then walked his police dog around Rodriguez’s car. The dog alerted that there were drugs present, and the officer searched the car and found drugs.

In the world of criminal law in Virginia, Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts oversee cases that involve juveniles (anyone under the age of 18 at the time of the offense) accused of crimes, or crimes committed by adults where a juvenile or a “family or household member” is the alleged victim. In Prince William County, the J&DR Court handles cases that take place in the County, as well as the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, the Towns of Haymarket, Quantico, Dumfries, and Occoquan. In this post, I will briefly discuss the basics of cases where a juvenile is accused of a crime.

The primary role of the Court in any criminal case is to uphold the rule of law. If a person is found guilty of a crime, it is the responsibility of the court to impose a sentence that takes into consideration the appropriate punishment for the Defendant in relationship to what has been done, as well as the possibility of deterring the Defendant and others from committing similar acts in the future, or rehabilitating the Defendant to be a more productive member of society. In J&DR Court when it comes to the criminal conduct of juveniles, the Court often sees its role much more as rehabilitative—to teach the juvenile to learn from their mistakes and mature into adulthood.

When a juvenile is accused of committing a crime, the process can begin in a variety of ways. The juvenile can be arrested just like an adult. If that happens, they can be held at the Juvenile Detention Home until the next day court is in session, where a hearing is held to determine whether the juvenile can be returned home until their court date or not. If a juvenile is detained, the law requires that a hearing must be held within 21 days to review that status or resolve the case, and then every 21 days thereafter until the case is resolved.

By Bret Lee, Senior Attorney

Northern Virginia is a hub of federal activity. Throughout Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Prince William County are numerous federal agencies, parks, and buildings. Traffic crimes committed in national parks or on military property can result in different charges than you would normally face in Virginia state courts. One very common charge is driving while intoxicated (DWI) or under the influence (DUI), which becomes a federal charge if it occurs on federal property. DWI and DUI charges in Federal Court are a cross between state law violations and federal laws and regulations such as the CFR.

Whether you received a DUI charge on the grounds of Fort Belvoir or a DWI leaving Wolf Trap, you need to be prepared and have the right advocate by your side. Federal charges can have massive implications for immigration, job applications, and security clearances. There are a wide variety of consequences that a federal judge can impose in a DWI sentencing. Jail and loss of driving privileges are a real risk with these charges. Federal security clearances can be severely affected if you are convicted of a federal DUI.

By: Seth Peritz, Senior Attorney

July 1, 2019 addition to reckless driving – Va. Code §46.2-861.1

Aside from all of the Reckless Driving statutes that have been in existence for a while, recently, the Legislature passed a law making passing an emergency vehicle on the roadway a misdemeanor offense and combined it with the other Reckless Driving statutes.

By Matthew Crowley

Grand larceny in Virginia can be charged in three different ways: taking money or anything else that is worth $5 or more from a person (that is, physically from them), committing larceny of something that is worth $500 or more, or committing larceny of any firearm regardless of its value. In layman's terms, a larceny is the carrying and taking away of someone else's property with the intention to permanently deprive them of it. Other words commonly used for this are stealing or theft.

There are several components to larceny in Virginia. The first is the taking and carrying away. In most cases this involves physically handling and removing money or something else of value. Though in shoplifting cases, simply concealing an item in a bag or removing or altering the price tag is considered enough, even if the item has not yet left the store.

By Andrew Criado, Senior Attorney

The first line of attack against a DUI in Virginia is the traffic stop. If the defense can show that the police stopped the car without a reasonable basis, the court will suppress the evidence gained from the stop, and the DUI will be dismissed.

When can the police stop a car?

by Bret Lee, Senior Attorney

Domestic assault charges in Virginia require the best defense.  Family is the most important thing for most people.  That is part of why a domestic assault charge can be so terrifying to someone who has not been in trouble before:  it cuts to the core of your personal life.  At Robinson Law, we are experienced in defending those who have been charged with domestic assault or assault against a family member. We are prepared to do what it takes to guide you to the best outcome possible.  It starts with informing you about how the case will proceed in court, how you may help us, and preparing you for the possible results of the case.

There are some common misperceptions about domestic assault charges.  The charge is brought by the Commonwealth of Virginia, not just the alleged victim.  If the victim changes his or her mind and does not want to proceed with the charge, that does not mean the case will be automatically dropped in Virginia.  In fact, the victim can sometimes be forced to testify in court against the defendant.  The charge also cannot be dropped by a civil settlement.  It is still critical to have an attorney help resolve the case even if everyone wants a dismissal, because not all dismissals are treated the same under Virginia law.

Most people are aware that the Commonwealth of Virginia is recognized as the state for lovers. But few people know why. “Virginia is for Lovers” was launched in 1969 by Virginia’s tourism industry, which considered younger generations as its target market. The baby boomers were known for their sense of adventure and “love” of life and peace, hence the reasoning behind the slogan.

But what most people don’t know about Virginia is that it’s notorious for having some of the most comical, archaic laws in the country. In fact, there are so many, I had difficulty narrowing this list down. While none of these laws are enforced today, some are still technically on the books.

1. It’s illegal to tickle women. Please be a lover, not a tickler.

I’ve had a handful of people ask me lately if displaying a certain ‘warning’ on your car window will excuse you from complying with a DUI checkpoint. The message reads something along the lines of: “I remain silent. No searches. I invoke my right to an attorney.” This won’t work in Virginia. A valid checkpoint is a lawful stop and you are required to provide your license and registration.

DUI checkpoints have many names – “roadblocks” and “traffic safety checking detail” are among the most common. Police are not only required to minimize the delay time for each vehicle at a roadblock, but they are also not authorized to stop every car passing through. Typically, they briefly detain every fourth or fifth car, but the mathematical equation they employ varies.

If the officer believes you’re driving under the influence, you will be asked to move your vehicle to the side of the road for additional questioning. Police may have a reasonable suspicion that you have consumed too much alcohol prior to driving if you show any of these signs:

Have you ever wondered when a police officer is authorized to search you? Or if he has enough evidence against you to make an arrest? This is where the familiar terms “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause” come in to play. These concepts are fundamental in determining if and when a person can be detained for questioning, searched and arrested (seized).

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures. But what exactly does ‘unreasonable’ mean? Rather than following a neat, concise set of legal rules, reasonable suspicion and probable cause are based on the circumstantial interpretation made by the police officer(s). However, the officer’s interpretation must align with the Constitution, which is not always the case. In this week’s post I break down these two terms and provide examples through hypothetical DUI stops.

● Reasonable suspicion for an investigative stop – An officer can briefly detain a person if he has a reasonable belief that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed. The officer may also perform a limited search (frisk) of the outside of the person’s clothing if he has a reasonable belief that the person is armed. The officer’s belief must be based on facts or circumstances. In other words, an officer cannot simply “guess” or “feel” as though a crime has been, is being, or will be committed.

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