Know Your Rights: Virginia Criminal Cases

Criminal charges in Virginia are serious matters. If you have been charged, arrested, or if you are being investigated, it is in your best interest to understand your rights. Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about your rights before, during, and after an arrest in Virginia. Schedule a consultation with a criminal lawyer in Virginia to learn more.

If I Tell An Officer I Want To Speak With An Attorney, Does That Imply Guilt?

Asking to speak to an attorney absolutely does not imply guilt. It is your right to ask to speak with an attorney and in no way could that be used to imply guilt. A court, judge or jury is simply not permitted to make any inference or implication from the fact you retained an attorney.

If I Do Not Consent To a Search, Does That Imply Guilt?

Similarly, refusing to consent to a search absolutely does not imply guilt. Not consenting to a search is well within your rights and  cannot be used against you in court. On the street, a police officer may think that it implies guilt, and probably won’t be happy with your refusal, but when it comes to court the Constitution protects your right to not consent to a search that you don’t want to consent to and exercising those rights can’t be used in court to imply that you are guilty.

When Can I Contact An Attorney During a Criminal Process in Virginia?

Well, it depends somewhat on the arresting officer. Once the officer has conducted their initial investigation, you can contact an attorney. There is no absolute right to consult with an attorney while on the street with the officer. So it is best to request an attorney, comply with police otherwise, but don’t answer any questions until the attorney is involved.

Why Is Speaking To Counsel Important Before I’m Charged?

It’s extremely important because if Virginia law enforcement is contacting you, you can at least assume there’s some kind of investigation going on. An attorney can protect your interests in that investigation. An attorney can reach out to law enforcement, advise you what steps to take, and generally watch the case to ensure you are put in the best possible position to either not be charged at all or if charged to be successful at trial.

Important Things To Know If You’re Being Questioned By Police

The most important thing to know is that you do not have to speak with the police. It is in your right to say you do not want to speak with the police —no matter how angry that makes them. That is your right.

How Do I Get In Contact With A Lawyer After I’m Arrested?

After you’re arrested, you can request to contact a lawyer. Unlike the movies there is no guaranteed right to a phone call, although most police departments will allow you to get in touch with an attorney. There are phones in the jail that you can use to contact an attorney, or at least contact your family so they can contact an attorney.