This is the first post in a series meant to help Virginia residents decide whether they should hire a private attorney for their criminal matter. Residents of our state too often make the mistake of thinking that their criminal charge is “no big deal” and they show up at their first court appearance without having consulted an attorney. This is one of the biggest mistakes people can make in our opinion as even a minor charge can have lasting effects on one’s life. Over the next few articles we hope to help Virginia residents understand the need to consult with an attorney.
We will be discussing several topics over the coming posts. These topics include:
- The benefits of hiring a private attorney for a criminal charge
- Why one needs a lawyer when charged with domestic violence in Virginia
- Why you should retain an attorney if charged with marijuana possession
- The need for legal representation in cases involving prescription narcotics
- The need for legal representation in Virginia criminal cases involving juveniles
Some individuals arrive at court without an attorney present and plead guilty when charged with a misdemeanor such as the offenses above. These people do so because they do not believe they have grounds to fight the accusation. While seemingly minor to some people, a misdemeanor conviction will result in a lasting criminal record. This lasting record can prevent you from gaining employment and may disqualify you from having various professional licenses. Furthermore, in many instances your employer would be within their right to terminate you from employment for picking up a criminal conviction. Too often people make the mistake of accepting a minor conviction without understanding the lasting impact. Consulting with a Virginia criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid this mistake if you have been charged with a crime in our state.
Another ramification of accepting a conviction is that it can have an impact on later cases. If you are convicted of a crime, however minor, then the Judge will take that into account during sentencing for any subsequent offenses. In other words, if you pick up another case in the future then the penalty for that case will be increasingly severe due to any conviction in the instant matter you are facing. Again, if you retain counsel then you can more fully understand all of these ramifications before you even attend your first court appearance and you will be properly advised as you make decisions about your case going forward.
Hiring a lawyer for a minor infraction may also allow you to attend court fewer times than you would have to otherwise. It may be possible to resolve your matter at the initial appearance but quite often, a Judge will want you to have consulted with an attorney prior to resolving your case. In such instances the Judge will continue the initial hearing so that you may meet with either the public defender or a criminal defense lawyer. This means coming to court a second time to resolve your matter, resulting in having to attend court twice as much as necessary. This can be avoided if you have counsel at your initial arraignment.
Our next article will provide a more in-depth discussion on the pros of hiring a private lawyer for your Virginia criminal charges even though the offense was relatively minor. Contact our office today for an initial consultation. In addition to Virginia Beach, we service Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and other areas in our state.