Trends in Virginia Criminal Cases

Virginia courts take all charges very seriously, however there are certain types of crimes that are enforced more seriously than others. For this reason, it is important for individuals in Virginia to be aware of what law enforcement officers are paying particular attention to and what crimes prosecutors are less likely to offer plea deals for, and if accused of any of these offenses consult with a Virginia defense attorney right away.

Priorities for Law Enforcement Officers in Virginia

The priorities of law enforcement officers in Virginia depend on the priorities of the Commonwealth’s Attorney in the specific county where an individual is being charged. However, in general, Commonwealth’s Attorneys and law enforcement officers want to create a safe community culture. They are uniformly trying to eliminate any violent crime, criminal offenses which are threatening the community at large, and the safety of the people living in the community.

The way they crack down on this type of thing is to treat certain offenses more harshly than others. For example, some counties are really cracking down on speeding, especially beyond a certain speed. Under Virginia Code, speeds over 80 mph or speeds of 20 mph or more over the speed limit are automatically reckless driving. What some counties do, is in addition to charging reckless driving, they ask for jail time as a more severe deterrent.

In addition, law enforcement is also trying to crack down on drunk driving. In many counties they are creating sobriety checkpoints or task forces which look for drunk drivers so they can be pulled over and taken off the streets. Again, the purpose is to achieve their ultimate goals of making the community safe.

Charging of Innocent People Due to Prioritizing

Certainly innocent people can be charged in situations where law enforcement officers are under pressure to reduce certain crime statistics in a community. Individuals are charged because the officers are trying to be overly cautious and sensitive to these issues.

For example, a law enforcement officer might pull somebody over because they suspect them of doing something illegal, but in reality the individual has not demonstrated behavior which would be in violation of the law. Instead the individual has simply done something which in the officer’s perspective is suspicious, but should not be enough.

Prosecutorial Trends

Across Virginia reckless driving is taken very seriously, in certain counties, however, prosecutors are directed by their offices to only make deals that involve jail time for charges over a certain speed. For example, going above 90 in certain jurisdictions will result in offers that almost certainly include jail time.

Another area prosecutors are cracking down on across the board is with drug charges. Although a diversionary program can usually be expected for people charged with possession of marijuana for the first time,and this program results ultimately in a dismissal, it cannot be expunged from an individual’s record. It is very important if someone is charged with marijuana possession for the first time that they speak with an attorney to make sure that this is the best option for them. They want to make sure that their attorney is unable to find another way to resolve the situation.

Something else which prosecutors across the board are eager to charge is any kind of domestic violence case or case involving children. In these situations prosecutors are not looking to make the situation go away. They usually seek harsher punishments, which definitely affects the negotiation process and the building of a defense.