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Northern Virginia General Law Blog

Criminal defense lawyers are advocates for their clients' rights

The legal system is adversarial. Whether Virginia residents finds themselves in civil or criminal court, they will likely feel overwhelmed by the procedural and technical requirements that their cases will be subjected to as they move through the court system. They will have to come up with effective and truthful ways to present their case and they will have to potentially face punishment if they fail in their efforts. However, a failure in the civil courts may result in the imposition that the individual pays damages, while a failure in the criminal courts could deprive a person of their personal freedom.

Criminal convictions can and do result in incarceration. Depending upon the crime the individual is accused of committing, they could face a few days in jail for a conviction or their life behind the bars of a prison. A criminal conviction can also result in a person losing other rights that may affect their abilities to find work and live their lives as they wish once they have been released from their periods of confinement.

A review of gun crime regulations in Virginia

Gun ownership is not unusual in Virginia, nor is it in the other 49 states of the nation. In fact, many Americans own guns to use for recreation, hunting and self-protection. In order for a person to legally own a gun there are a number of requirements that must be met. The failure to follow proper channels can result in a person facing serious gun crime charges.

For example, not all individuals are allowed to own guns. Individuals who have been convicted of felonies may not legally possess guns without facing consequences, and people who are the subjects of protective orders also may not possess guns. Individuals who lack mental fortitude may be denied the right to own guns and individuals who are not legally in the country are prohibited from owning firearms.

A change to your child custody agreement may be in order

Changes of all kinds occur as we go through life, and many of them affect those dear to us.

If you have divorced, a significant change may have occurred in your life that warrants modification to the child custody agreement that is currently in place. Your ex-spouse may or may not be supportive, but the decision is ultimately up to the court.

What constitutes domestic violence in Virginia?

Domestic violence oftentimes involves domination and the capacity of one person to force the other to submit to the aggressor's will. There are five broad categories of behavior that Virginia recognizes as domestic violence.

First, domestic violence may take on the form of physical abuse. It can involve pushing, hitting and punching on the part of the aggressor against the victim, but it also may involve the use of weapons or other devices to inflict physical harm on the victim.

A criminal conviction can damper the promise of the New Year

The holidays are a special time of year when Virginia residents may have a little more time off from work and may have opportunities to spend their days with the friends and family members who mean the world to them. Oftentimes, over meals and parties, individuals reacquaint themselves with individuals who have been important parts of their lives. However, from time to time, reunions of relations and former friends hash up old wounds and result in holiday conflicts.

While emotions are often running high during the winter months of the year, holiday disagreements and fights can push otherwise calm and restrained individuals into doing things that may not be responsible. Accusations of abuse, assault and other criminal claims can be lodged when holiday conflicts turn physical or otherwise allegedly take violent turns.

The elements of an effective parenting plan

Divorce forces parents to make difficult choices about how their children will be raised and with whom the children will live. While some parents cannot come to terms with each other about these important matters and must rely on judicial intervention to establish custodial and visitation arrangements, many Virginia parents are able to put their differences aside and create their own parenting plans. These agreements set forth schedules, terms and other important information that will dictate how the parents will interact to raise their children following their split.

At a minimum, a parenting plan or agreement should outline how physical and legal custody of the child will be managed. If the parents are to jointly share physical custody of the child, then the plan should provide specific information about how and when the child will move from household to household. If a parent will have sole physical custody of the child, then the plan should establish when the non-custodial parent will have visitation.

Can you seek spousal support after a divorce?

Spousal support, sometimes referred to as alimony, is financial assistance that a person provides to their former spouse and that can last for varying lengths of time. Not every Virginia couple that goes through a divorce will have a spousal support agreement or order attached to their final decree, as spousal support is not necessary in all cases. In some divorces, the parties to the action will leave the marriage with sufficient wealth and income to support themselves without requiring spousal support.

A party who desires spousal support generally must request it. They may file a petition for support that describes why they should be awarded financial support after their marriage ends. Certain factors can be influential in a court's consideration of whether spousal support should be awarded to a requesting party.

Time to become acquainted with an ignition interlock device?

In 2012, the Commonwealth of Virginia joined 15 other states in requiring the installation of an ignition interlock device in the vehicle of anyone convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Even if you are a first-time DUI offender, the court could order the IID for your car, and you must have it installed at your expense for whatever length of time the court deems proper. If you are about to become personally acquainted with an IID, do you know what this device is and how it works?

Theft charges may be met with case-specific defenses

It is not uncommon for a Virginia resident to borrow an item of property from a neighbor and to have the full intention to return that property when they are done using it. For example, a person may borrow a wheelbarrow to complete yard work and anticipate that they will return it to their neighbor within the week. If the borrower of the wheelbarrow fails to return it to its owner, a theft as generally not occurred. Even though the borrower kept the wheelbarrow, there is an important element of the crime of theft that is absent from this hypothetical scenario: the intent of the borrower to permanently divest the owner of the property.

Theft involves two elements: the taking of property and the intent to keep it from going back to the owner. The lack of an alleged thief's intent in this respect may be a defense to charges of theft. There are also several other defenses that individuals may be able to use if confronted with serious criminal theft allegations.

Can my ex-spouse move our child out-of-state?

It can be hard on both a parent and their child when divorce or separation causes them to live in separate households. Parents in Virginia who do not have physical custody of their children may feel as though they are missing out when they do not get to see their children each and every day. While options like virtual visitation may give parents more access to their kids when they are not in the same physical space, the distance between a parent and child can be hard to overcome.

In situations such as this, it can be incredibly difficult on a non-custodial parent to contend with the possibility of their child being taken even farther away from them. When a custodial parent wants to or must relocate, it can force a child to leave their home to remain with the custodial parent and to give up their already strained relationship with the non-custodial parent.

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