Justia Lawyer Rating
Martindale-Hubbell - Peer Reviewed badge
Avvo Client's Choice Award 2019 - Bret Danwill Offan Lee
Avvo Client's Choice Award 2019 - Benjamin N. Griffitts
Martindale-Hubbell - Client Champion Platinum 2019
Avvo Client's Choice Award 2017 - Michael Andrew Robinson
Super Lawyers badge - Michael A. Robinson
Super Lawyers Risnig Stars badge - Michael A. Robinson
Avvo Client's Choice Award 2019
Avvo Client's Choice Award 2019
SuperLawyers - Selected in 2022
Rated by Super Lawyers 2022

Recently, an appellate court in Fairfax County determined that the trial judge incorrectly allowed a trial to proceed in a criminal defendant’s drug case. Because the lower court improperly allowed the defendant’s case to move forward, the defendant was entitled to a reversal. The court then vacated the defendant’s conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was charged with two counts of possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute, what courts often abbreviate as “PWID.” Going into the trial, the Commonwealth argued that the defendant was convicted of a similar offense twice before; thus, because this was his third PWID offense, he should be subject to significant time in prison.

At trial, however, the defendant argued that the Commonwealth’s evidence proving that he was convicted of two previous PWID offenses was insufficient. The documents were not authenticated and showed inconsistent information. The court agreed with the defendant and allowed him to strike the evidence from the record.

Instead of automatically deciding that the defendant could not be found guilty for a third PWID offense, given there was no sufficient proof of the first two offenses, the court allowed the Commonwealth to submit additional evidence supporting the claim that the defendant had been found guilty of the first two offenses. When it heard this additional evidence, the court then decided that there was enough evidence to convict the defendant of a third PWID.

Continue Reading ›

In a recent appellate opinion regarding a defendant’s violent behavior and eventual killing of his wife, the court agreed with the defendant’s arguments and reversed his guilty conviction. According to the court, there was a significant chance that the defendant acted violently because he suffered from extreme mental illness. Given this possibility, the court vacated the defendant’s guilty conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant’s wife told him she wanted a divorce in March 2017. Infuriated, the defendant began acting violently. He committed several serious domestic violence offenses against his wife, strangling her with his hands and a pair of pajama bottoms.

The defendant’s wife died from injuries related to the incident. The defendant called 911 himself to report what he had done, telling the 911 operator that he had heard voices controlling his mind that told him to commit the offense. When officers arrived at the scene of the crime, the defendant made no attempt to hide what he had done.

Continue Reading ›

In a recent case revolving around identity fraud in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the court of appeals affirmed the lower court’s verdict and concluded there was sufficient evidence to find the defendant guilty. On appeal, the defendant argued that the Commonwealth was required to present more evidence in order to support the guilty verdict. The court, however, disagreed, and the lower court’s ruling stayed in place.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case applied for and received a job in September 2016 as a caretaker for an elderly woman. As part of the job, the woman’s son gave the defendant a credit card, and he told her to use the card for anything his mother needed. The woman’s son did not ask for receipts for any of the defendant’s purchases.

In 2018, the woman’s son became suspicious. He noticed that the card had been used to buy jewelry, as well as to buy gift cards to grocery stores and department stores. Acting on these suspicions, the son fired the defendant. A grand jury indicted her of identity fraud, finding that she had illegally used the son’s credit card to fund her own purchases unrelated to the job at hand.

At trial, the jury found the defendant guilty of seven misdemeanor counts and one felony count of identity fraud.

Continue Reading ›

Recently, a Virginia court denied a defendant’s appeal in a case involving delays due to COVID-10. On appeal, the defendant argued that the delay between the date he was charged for armed burglary and the date he was convicted was unreasonably long, thus violating his constitutional right to a speedy trial. The court considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately denied it, deciding the pandemic was sufficient justification for the delay.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was charged with armed burglary after an incident that occurred in September 2018. Apparently, the victim of the burglary was home alone when two men entered her house unannounced. Both men had guns and both men were covering their faces so as not to be discovered.

One of the men immediately began searching the woman’s house for money, while the other kept a gun held to her head. At another point in the encounter, one of the men raped the woman and demanded that she clean herself afterward to erase evidence of the rape.

Continue Reading ›

Recently, a defendant in Virginia appealed his firearm convictions by arguing that the trial court should not have allowed evidence of a 911 call to be part of the Commonwealth’s case. According to the defendant, the call was not properly authenticated, and thus it was improperly admitted. Disagreeing with the defendant, the higher court denied the appeal and kept the original convictions in place.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant’s ex-girlfriend called 911 one day in November 2020 to report that the defendant had fired a shot outside her house. The ex-girlfriend said that the defendant had used a silver and brown-looking gun and that he had shot at her car approximately two minutes before the call. The ex-girlfriend also reported that the defendant had been convicted of felonies in the past, as well as that he was angry because the pair had recently broken up.

Eventually, police officers were able to track down the defendant at a nearby hotel. The officers saw the defendant’s car and noticed a live round of ammunition in the driver’s seat. They also seized a backpack that the defendant had been carrying, in which they found a few live .25 caliber rounds.

Continue Reading ›

In a recent appellate case coming out of a Virginia court, the defendant successfully appealed his unfavorable verdict from the lower court. At issue in the case was whether the defendant was fairly sentenced after he violated the terms of his probation. On appeal, the defendant argued the court had improperly considered the nature of his offenses before sentencing him to time in prison. The higher court agreed with the defendant, reversing the lower court’s decision.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case appeared for a hearing to determine whether he had violated the terms of his probation. The stakes of the hearing were high: if the court were to find that the defendant had violated his probation terms, he would be sentenced to time in prison. If not, he would be re-released to live under the terms of his probation.

The most important factor for the lower court in deciding the defendant’s case was whether the defendant had committed violations that were technical or non-technical. According to Virginia law, when a criminal defendant on probation commits a specific offense coming from a list of ten pre-stated offenses, the defendant has committed a technical violation. All other violations are deemed non-technical in nature.

Continue Reading ›

Posted in:
Published on:

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects Virginia residents from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. In the context of criminal law, the Fourth Amendment generally requires law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant from a judge before performing a search to investigate criminal activity. The warrant requirement does have exceptions that allow police officers to legally perform a search without a warrant. The breadth of these exceptions is constantly in dispute, as evidenced by a recent decision by the Virginia Court of Appeals which affirmed a defendant’s conviction even though police officers searched his vehicle without a warrant.

The defendant in the recently decided case was arrested after he was set up in a “sting” operation. The police had obtained an informant who notified them that the defendant was a substantial narcotics distributor in the region. Under the supervision of the police, the informant phoned the defendant and set up a meeting to purchase a large quantity of methamphetamine and a firearm. Upon meeting the informant, ploice detained the defendant and searched his vehicle. The search revealed drugs and a firearm, and the defendant was arrested for multiple offenses.

Before trial, the defendant challenged the admission of the evidence found in the search of his vehicle, arguing that the police did not have adequate exigent circumstances or probable cause to perform a warrantless search. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion and he was ultimately convicted of the charges and sentenced to over 20 years in prison. The defendant then appealed the trial court’s evidentiary ruling to the Virginia Court of Appeals.

Stafford County, VA DWI Cases

If you have been charged with DUI or DWI in Stafford County, you will need a highly skilled DUI attorney to represent you. Stafford is a “no nonsense” jurisdiction, meaning both the judges and prosecutors rarely show leniency when it comes to DWI offenses.

Your first court appearance is known as an arraignment. This hearing is waivable if you hire an attorney before the court date. When our DUI lawyers are retained on a Stafford case, our process begins by contacting the clerk’s office for available trial dates. We then confirm the best trial date option with the prosecutor’s office. Next, we submit our documents with the clerk, who then waives the arraignment and sets the case out for trial.

Types of Felony Crimes in Virginia

Felony crimes in Virginia are more serious than misdemeanor crimes. Felonies carry more penalties than misdemeanors and may have life-altering consequences. There are 6 felony classes, with class 1 being the most serious and class 6 being the least serious. If convicted of a felony crime in Virginia, your firearm rights and voting rights will be affected. If the felony crime is sexual in nature, registration on the national sex offender registry will also be required. Below are some of the most common felonies our attorneys handle in Virginia.

Class 1 Felonies

In a recent opinion on a Virginia firearms case coming out of a Virginia appeals court, the defendant appealed his conviction of possession of a firearm after conviction of a nonviolent felony. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence found during a 2019 search of his vehicle. The defendant claimed that Code §4.1-1302(A), which took effect in 2021, applied retroactively and rendered the evidence seized in 2019 inadmissible as evidence against him in his 2021 trial. Examining the evidence, the court of appeals disagreed, and affirmed the original conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, on November 15, 2019, an officer of the City of Newport News Police Department stopped a sports utility vehicle because it had an expired registration. The defendant was the sole occupant of the vehicle, and while speaking with the defendant, the officer noticed the odor of marijuana coming from the car. Based on the odor of marijuana, the officer performed a search of the vehicle and subsequently found a revolver. The defendant admitted that the revolver was his. As the defendant had a prior conviction for possession of cocaine, he was then arrested on a warrant charging him with possession of a firearm after conviction of a nonviolent felony. He was indicted for the offense in 2020.

In August 2021, the defendant filed a pretrial motion to suppress evidence. He asserted that a new statutory provision, which had taken effect earlier in 2021, rendered the search of his vehicle due solely to the odor of marijuana unlawful and, consequently, rendered the firearm and his related statements inadmissible at trial. The defendant argued that the new law was procedural and therefore applied retroactively. The trial court held that the statute was not retroactive and denied the motion to suppress. Following the court’s decision, the defendant entered a conditional guilty plea reserving his right to appeal the suppression ruling. The court found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to five years in prison with three years suspended.

Continue Reading ›

Contact Information