One of the most common questions potential clients pose after they are charged with a crime, is the percentage likelihood they will win their case or achieve the best possible outcome. While attorneys understand that people want to know what will happen with their case, they can only share the process the client will go through and share advice that past experiences have shown. An attorney cannot guarantee a particular result because they do not know what might happen or the extenuating circumstances that could change the outcome of the case. Additionally, they are ethically required not to guarantee anything.
With that said, an experienced criminal defense attorney in Virginia, especially one who knows the local courtroom and prosecutor, can explain what has happened in similar cases in the past, and what can generally be expected. The attorney can confidently provide this advice because their experience tells them it is something that they can predict for their client, but cannot guarantee.
A conviction for a misdemeanor crime carries a maximum fine of up to $2,500 and a jail sentence of up to twelve months. Additionally, different penalties are added depending on the charges. For example, someone could face a suspension of their license, be forced to go to classes or take tests, or a year of probation. Occasionally, a probation is active, where the individual has to check in with a probation officer and submit to drug and alcohol screening.
Besides criminal penalties, misdemeanor charges can carry collateral consequences that are not often thought of. For example, there are potential consequences for a person’s particular immigration statuses. Additionally, the ability to get or maintain a security clearance may suffer, depending on the crime they are charged with and convicted of.
Furthermore, if an individual is convicted of certain sex offense crimes, then they would be forced to put their name on a sexual offender registry and inform the Virginia authorities every time they move in order to account for their whereabouts.
Following a criminal charge, clients are often fearful of the possibility of going to jail. Whether or not a defendant receives a jail sentence depends not only on the case, but on the charges themselves and which county and prosecutors are involved. Local and experienced attorneys can give their clients a very confident prediction of their jail time, however, cannot guarantee. In situations where a defense attorney knows from experience that no individual has received jail time for a particular offense, they can tell their clients right away.
If a penalty for a conviction is a fine that the individual cannot pay, an attorney can petition the court for more time to pay. The attorney will arrange with the court for some additional amount of time to allow them to pay their fine. Another option is to go into the Virginia Clerk’s Office and ask to be put on a payment plan, where they pay a certain amount every month until their fine is paid off.
However, if someone does not pay their fine, any part of their sentence that was suspended pending general good behavior and payment of their fine, the suspended part of the sentence could now be imposed on them. Additionally, not paying a court fine in Virginia will lead to an administrative suspension of the individual’s driver’s license, so they will not be able to drive until they pay their fine and reinstate their driver’s license with the DMV.