The Answers You Need to Many Common Legal Questions

Often, our clients have little experience with the law, and they share many questions and concerns when faced with a legal matter. The attorneys at Greenspun Shapiro PC understand you need answers, and we offer many of them here. Hear our thoughts on issues relating to criminal charges, traffic charges, real estate transactions, civil litigation, personal injury cases, business disputes, administrative hearings, and more.

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  • How can I get off the Sex Offender Registry in Virginia?

    Sex Offender Text on a Computer Screen With a Wooden GavelAs you well know, inclusion on the Virginia sex offender registry can impact your life significantly. The police can monitor your location, you are prohibited from going to certain places such as schools or playgrounds, and anyone interested can search for your name on the sex offender list.

    You, understandably, want to get off the list.

    Only Non-Violent Offenders May Be Eligible for Removal

    Virginia Code § 9.1-910 allows a person on the sex offender registry to petition the court for removal from the registry unless the person is on the registry because of a conviction for:

    • A sexually violent offense, such as rape
       
    • Two or more offenses that require registration
       
    • Murder

    If you were required to register for any other reason, then you could be eligible for removal from the list after 15 or 25 years, depending on your specific criminal conviction. Additionally, you must complete all court-ordered treatment, counseling, and restitution before you seek removal.

    Petitioning the Court for Sex Offender Registry Removal

    Whether or not you are removed from the sex offender registry will be a court’s decision.

    If you think that you are eligible for removal, then you may petition the circuit court where you were convicted or the circuit court where you live to have your name and information removed from the registry.

    The court will receive a copy of your complete criminal history and your sex offender registration history.

    Then, the court will hold a hearing on the petition. You, and any other interested parties, may present witnesses and evidence to the court.

    After the hearing, the court will grant your petition for removal from the sex offender registry if the court is satisfied that you are no longer a risk to public safety. The court will issue an order granting the petition, and the Virginia State Police will remove your name and identifying information from the registry.

    You have a lot at stake. If the court does not grant your petition, then you must wait 24 months before trying again. During this time, all of the restrictions imposed by the registry remain. Potential landlords, employers, friends, and neighbors can find you on the registry, and you will continue to suffer the consequences that come with registering as a sex offender.

    Since you have so much at stake, we encourage you to contact our experienced Fairfax sex offender defense lawyers today to learn more about your rights and your potential eligibility for sex offender registry removal.

     

  • What is money laundering, and what are the possible penalties if I’m convicted of money laundering in Virginia?

    Money Laundering Touch IconMoney laundering involves conducting a financial transaction with money derived from illegal activity. Virginia Code § 18.2-246.3 makes it a crime to use money obtained illegally in a financial transaction, and it makes it a crime to use money obtained illegally in cash conversions. While both offenses are money laundering, the crimes and the potential penalties are different.

    Money Laundering Financial Transactions

    Virginia Code §18.2-246.3(A) makes it illegal to conduct a financial transaction if you know the property involved in the transaction is the proceeds of an activity that is a felony in Virginia, any other state or territory, Washington D.C., or the United States.

    For example, it is against the law to invest money in a legal business if you know the money came from selling illegal drugs.

    The penalty for money laundering in this way is imprisonment for up to 40 years, a fine of up to $500,000, or both jail time and a fine.

    Money Laundering Cash Conversions

    The second money laundering crime is found in Virginia Code §18.2-246.3(B). According to this section of the law, it is illegal for a person to convert cash into negotiable instruments or electronic funds for someone else for compensation if the person knows the cash is the proceeds of an activity that is a felony in Virginia, any other state or territory, Washington D.C., or the United States.

    The first time a person is convicted of this crime, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction include a jail term of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

    If a person is convicted of this crime for a second or subsequent time, it is a Class 6 felony. The possible penalties for a Class 6 felony include a jail term of not more than five years and/0r a fine of not more than $2,500.

    Contact a Virginia Money Laundering Defense Lawyer Today

    Money laundering is a serious crime with significant potential penalties. However, there are possible defenses that could apply to your case. For example, if you acted under duress, if you did not know the money was obtained illegally, or if you lacked the intent to commit the crime, then you should not be found guilty of money laundering in Virginia.

    Our experienced white-collar criminal defense lawyers will review every aspect of your defense and advise you so that you can protect your future. Call us, or contact us through this website, to learn more.

     

  • When may I be eligible for an expungement in Virginia?

    Criminal Record Expungement Torn PaperworkAn expungement can benefit you in many ways. An expungement will make your arrest record inaccessible to the public. That means that if your record is expunged, then potential employers, landlords, and others will not be able to find evidence of your prior arrest, and you will not be required to disclose your arrest or charge to potential employers or others in Virginia.

    Expungement Eligibility

    According to Virginia Code § 19.2-392.2, you may be eligible for an expungement if you have been charged with a crime and one of the following statements is true:

    • You are acquitted (i.e., found not guilty)
       
    • The Commonwealth’s attorney decides not to prosecute you (nolle prosequi)
       
    • The charges against you are otherwise dismissed, but without a finding of guilt of a finding that the evidence was sufficient for a finding of guilt
       
    • The crime was committed by someone else who used your identity

    You may not get an expungement if you pled nolo contendre (or no contest) to the charges against you, were convicted, or entered a guilty or no contest plea agreement. In addition, if your charge was dismissed pursuant to a first-offender program, such as the first-offender drug deferral program under Virginia Code § 18.2-251 or the first offense program for domestic assault under §18.2-57.3, then you may not seek an expungement.

    Your prior record and the severity of the charges against you will be important when the Court is deciding whether or not to grant your expungement. A different standard is applied for people with no other prior criminal record who are arrested for misdemeanors. Specifically:

    • If this was your first offense and the charge against you was a misdemeanor rather than a felony, then the Commonwealth must show good cause why the expungement should not be granted. If the Commonwealth cannot show good cause, then the expungement will be granted.
       
    • If you have a prior arrest record or you were charged with a felony, then you need to show that the continued existence of your arrest record would constitute a manifest injustice. That requires proof of the harm you face from having the offense appear on your record, such as denial of employment or educational opportunities.

    In either circumstance, you must request an expungement from the Circuit Court of the judicial district in which your original case was heard.

    How to Get an Expungement

    To get an expungement, you must file a petition and obtain a certified copy of your arrest warrant or indictment. Both documents should be filed in the Circuit Court where the charges against you were resolved. Then:

    • The petition is served on the Commonwealth's Attorney. The Commonwealth has 21 days to respond, although they are not always required to file a written answer.
       
    • You get fingerprinted. You must get a full set of fingerprints from a law enforcement agency. You must provide a copy of your expungement petition to that law enforcement agency to be provided to Virginia State Police.
       
    • The law enforcement agency submits your fingerprints to the Central Criminal Records Exchange with a copy of your expungement petition.
       
    • Central Criminal Records Exchange sends a copy of your criminal history, a copy of the Central Criminal Records Exchange documents you want expunged, and your fingerprints to the Court.
       
    • The Court will rule on your expungement, and if it is granted, it will forward the necessary information to the Virginia State Police to complete the expungement process. Finally, once your records have been expunged, Virginia State Police will send a letter confirming the completion of the expungement process.

    An expungement can improve your future by removing a significant barrier to entry for jobs, schools, and other opportunities.

    Don’t try to do this alone. You have too much at stake. Instead, consult an experienced Virginia expungement attorney to make sure you have grounds for an expungement and that you take all of the required steps to get the relief you seek. Contact our Fairfax criminal law attorneys today to learn more.

     

  • What penalties may I face if I violate a protective order in Virginia?

    Protective Order Paperwork and GavelYou face potential criminal charges if you violate an emergency protective order, a preliminary protective order, or a full protective order in Virginia. The charges and the potential penalties depend on the exact circumstances of your alleged violation.

    Misdemeanor Penalties for Violating VA Protective Orders

    Virginia Code § 16.1-253.2 provides that a violation of any provision of an emergency protective order, preliminary protective order, or permanent protective order is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor:

    • For the first offense. The penalty for a Class 1 misdemeanor is a possible jail term of up to 12 months, a fine of up to $2,500, or both a jail term and a fine up to those limits.
       
    • For the second time. If your second conviction is within five years of your first conviction and at least one of the convictions was based on an act or threat of violence, then your Class 1 misdemeanor penalty will include a 60 day mandatory minimum period of confinement. It could also include jail time up to one year and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

    Felony Penalties for Violating VA Protective Order

    A Virginia court may find you guilty of a Class 6 felony if you violate any provision of any type of protective order:

    • For a third or subsequent time within 20 years of first conviction if at least one of the offenses was an act or threat of violence. In these cases, you will face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of six months, and you could face a jail term of one to five years and a fine of up to $2,500.
       
    • While knowingly armed with a firearm or other deadly weapon. You could face a penalty of not less than one year and not more than five years in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. The penalty for violating the protective order is in addition to any sentence you may face for having a firearm or deadly weapon.
       
    • Committing an assault and battery resulting in bodily injury to the person protected by the protective order. The potential penalty for a Class 6 felony, in this case, is a jail term of one to five years and a fine of up to $2,500. You may also face charges and penalties for the assault and battery.
       
    • Stalking a person protected by the protective order. If you are found guilty of stalking a person who has a protective order against you, then you could face one to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500 in addition to any penalties you face if you are found guilty of stalking.
       
    • Entering the home of the person protected by the protective order while the person is home, or remaining in the home until the person returns. As with the examples provided above, you may face one to five years in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and any penalties for charges related to the breaking and entering of the home.

    For all felony and misdemeanor protective order violations, a jail sentence must be imposed even if a minimum jail time is not specified. Virginia law specifically prevents a court from suspending an entire jail sentence for people convicted of violating protective orders, meaning a conviction for any protective order violation will result in an active jail or prison sentence. Additionally, all convictions must result in the entry of a protective order for a period of up to two years. As with any criminal conviction, protective order violations will appear on your permanent record.

    Take All Charges Seriously—Talk to a VA Protective Order Lawyer

    Your freedom and your future are at stake. Don’t take any chances with your defense. Instead, contact our experienced Fairfax protective order attorneys today through this website or by phone to learn how we may be able to help with your defense.

     

  • What is the difference between an expungement and an appeal?

    Word Cloud With Words Related to Appeals and ExpungementsExpungements and appeals have different legal procedures and different potential outcomes. To make an educated decision about whether to pursue an expungement or appeal in your Virginia criminal case, it is important to understand both legal options and to contact an experienced Virginia criminal lawyer for help.

    Expungements

    If an expungement is successful, then it is as if you were never charged with a crime. All records having to do with the alleged crime are erased. You can go about your life as if you were never arrested, and potential employers and others who conduct background checks will not be able to find any record of the criminal charges you faced.

    In Virginia, you may be eligible for expungement if:

    • You were acquitted
       
    • The charge was nolle prossed (dismissed) and the Commonwealth does not intend to bring the charge back within one year

    If you have never been convicted of a crime and the charge you are seeking to expunge was a misdemeanor, then you may get an expungement unless the government’s attorney convinces the court that there is good cause not to grant the expungement.

    If you have been previously convicted of a crime or if the charge against you was a felony, then you have to convince the court that it would be a manifest injustice to keep the charge against you from being expunged.

    Appeals

    You must have been convicted of a crime to pursue an appeal. You may be able to seek an appeal if:

    • Your case was heard by a general district court. In Virginia, you have the right to appeal to a circuit court if your case was decided by a general district court.
       
    • Your case was heard by a circuit court and one or more of your legal rights was violated. In this situation, you may appeal to the Virginia Court of Appeals. However, in some cases you must petition for an appeal. In other words, you must request permission that your appeal be heard; therefore, it is a process best navigated with the assistance of an attorney.

    Common reasons for appeal include incorrect jury instructions, improperly admitted evidence, juror misconduct, and ineffective assistance of counsel.

    On appeal, the court may decide to affirm the decision of the lower court, vacate the ruling of the lower court, or reverse the judgment of the lower court and send the case back to the lower court to be tried again.

    Contact a Virginia Criminal Lawyer for Help

    Expungements and appeals are different, but if you pursue either legal option, then you may benefit from the help of an experienced Fairfax criminal law attorney. Contact our lawyers today to discuss all of your legal choices.

     

  • Can I be charged with reckless driving in Virginia if I live in another state?

    Virginia Road Sign in a Bright SkyYes, you may be charged with reckless driving in Virginia if you live out of state. If you choose to drive on Virginia roads, then Virginia laws apply to you regardless of where you live or which state issued your driver’s license.

    VA Reckless Driving Speeding Crimes and Penalties

    Virginia Code § 46.2-862 makes it a crime to drive a motor vehicle on a highway in Virginia if one of the following two things is true. You are:

    • Driving faster than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit
       
    • Driving faster than 80 miles per hour.

    In most cases, violation of this law is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If you are convicted of reckless driving due to speeding, then you may face imprisonment for up to 12 months, a fine of up to $2,500, or both penalties.

    If your reckless driving was the sole and proximate cause of another person’s death or if you were driving without a valid license, from any state, because of a license suspension or revocation due to a moving violation, then you may be convicted of a Class 6 felony. The potential penalty for a Class 6 felony could include imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of up to $2,500, or both penalties. Both Class 1 misdemeanor and Class 6 felony convictions may also result in additional fines and penalties.

    According to the Driver License Compact, you may face penalties in your home state if you are convicted of reckless driving in Virginia. The Driver License Compact applies to Washington D.C. and all states in the country except for Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

    Call a Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyer

    What might have been a speeding ticket in your home state is a crime in Virginia, and Virginia law applies to your case. Therefore, you need an experienced Fairfax reckless driving defense attorney to defend you. Your lawyer may be able to appear in court on your behalf so that you don’t need to come back to Virginia for your court date.

    We understand the serious legal and financial consequences you face. Call us to schedule a free consultation and to get started protecting your rights today.

     

  • What is the difference between a traffic ticket for speeding and being charged with speeding as reckless driving?

    Car Being Pulled Over for SpeedingIf you are stopped by the police for speeding, it can be hard to know if you are receiving a traffic citation or are being charged with reckless driving. This is because the summons to appear in court that you receive when charged with reckless driving can look like a simple traffic ticket.

    However, being charged with reckless driving is much different than a speeding traffic citation and is a much more serious offense in Virginia. Here are some of the key differences.

    Traffic Infraction vs. Misdemeanor Offense

    Getting a ticket for speeding is a traffic infraction. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor criminal offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Under Virginia Code § 46.2-862, you can be charged with reckless driving for driving over 80 mph regardless of what the posted speed limit is, or for driving 20 mph or more over the posted speed limit.

    While a simple speeding ticket may be prepaid before the scheduled court date, a reckless driving charge requires you to appear in court like other criminal offenses. You cannot avoid appearing in court by prepaying the ticket. However, under certain circumstances, you may be able to authorize an attorney to appear on your behalf for your reckless driving case.

    Penalties

    The penalties are different for a speeding ticket and a conviction of reckless driving. There is no possibility of a jail sentence for speeding and the maximum fine is $250. On the other hand, you may face these penalties if you are convicted of reckless driving:

    • Up to a 12-month jail sentence
       
    • Fine of up to $2,500
       
    • Driver’s license suspension for up to six months

    Points on Your Driving Record

    Both a speeding ticket and speeding reckless driving conviction will result in points on your driver's license. As little as three demerit points may be added for a speeding ticket. But if you are convicted of reckless driving, six demerit points will be added to your driving record. This can result in higher auto insurance costs and suspension of your driver’s license if you accumulate too many demerit points.

    Permanent Criminal Record

    Because reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense, you will have a permanent criminal record if you are convicted. This is not true if you receive a traffic ticket for speeding. Having a permanent criminal record can have long-term consequences on your ability to obtain a job, security clearance, housing, and much more.

    If you have received a traffic ticket for speeding or have been charged with reckless driving, you need an experienced reckless driving lawyer to develop a strong defense strategy so that you can achieve the best possible outcome. At Greenspun Shapiro PC, we have decades of experience fighting speeding tickets and reckless driving charges for our clients in Fairfax, Northern Virginia, and Washington, DC. To learn how we can help you, call our office at (703) 352-0100 to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • When can speeding be charged as reckless driving in Virginia?

    Paperwork Given to a Driver After Caught SpeedingIf you are speeding in Virginia and are pulled over by the police, you may receive more than a speeding ticket. You may be charged with reckless driving, which is a serious crime in our commonwealth. You would face a possible jail sentence, fines, suspension of your driving privileges, and a permanent criminal record. Fortunately, you may be able to avoid these harsh consequences if you retain an experienced reckless driving attorney in Fairfax.

    When Is Speeding Charged as Reckless Driving in Virginia?

    There are approximately 15 separate offenses that constitute reckless driving in Virginia. Two of them specifically involve speeding. Under Virginia Code § 46.2-862, you can be charged with reckless driving for speeding in these situations:

    • You were driving over 80 mph regardless of the posted speed.
       
    • You were driving 20 mph or more over the speed limit.

    It is not too hard to unintentionally violate these reckless driving laws. This is especially true on Virginia’s highways, where the speed limit is 70 mph in some areas and other drivers are often traveling at a fast speed.

    Penalties You May Face If Charged With Reckless Driving for Speeding

    Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is the most serious type of misdemeanor offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If convicted, you face these penalties:

    • Jail sentence of up to 12 months
       
    • $2,500 fine
       
    • Driver’s license suspension for up to six months
       
    • Six demerit points on your driving record for a period of eleven years

    Are you facing reckless driving charges in Virginia? You may have strong defenses that can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious misdemeanor or traffic infraction.

    Our skilled legal team has decades of experience defending clients facing these charges in Fairfax, Northern Virginia, and Washington, DC. To learn about how we can aggressively defend you, call our Fairfax office at (703) 352-0100 or start a live chat to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • What may happen to me if I fail to register on the sex offender registry?

    Sex Offender Registering on the ComputerIn Virginia, individuals convicted of certain sex offenses must register with the sex offender registry. If you are required to register and fail to do so, or if you provide false registration information, you may be charged with a criminal offense and face additional penalties.

    Crimes That Require You to Register as a Sex Offender

    You may have to register as a sex offender if you commit a sex offense or other specified offenses under federal or state law. Some of the crimes that require registration under Virginia Code § 9.1-902 include:

    • Object sexual penetration
       
    • Sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery
       
    • Rape and attempted rape
       
    • Child pornography
       
    • Taking indecent liberties with a minor
       
    • Solicitation of a minor
       
    • Murder
       
    • Criminal homicide

    What Are the Penalties for Failing to Register on the Sex Offender Registry?

    Virginia Code § 18.2-472.1 makes a first offense of failing to register or reporting false information a Class 1 misdemeanor if the crime committed was a non-violent sex crime. A second or subsequent offense where the sex crime was non-violent would be a Class 6 felony.

    If you were convicted of a violent sex crime or murder and violated the registry requirements, you may also be charged with a Class 6 felony. A second or subsequent offense can be charged as a Class 5 felony.

    The potential punishments if you are convicted include:

    • Class 1 misdemeanor: Up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500
       
    • Class 6 felony: One to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500 unless the judge or jury exercises their discretion and reduces the penalty to up to 12 months in jail
       
    • Class 5 felony: One to ten years in prison and a fine not to exceed $2,500

    Have you been charged with a sex offense? Have you violated your obligations to report as a sex offender? Our experienced sex crimes defense lawyers are here to help. We represent clients facing federal or state charges in Fairfax, Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. To learn how we can help you mount a strong defense, start an online chat or call (703) 352-0100 to schedule a free consultation.

     

  • What is the crime of embezzlement and what penalties might I face if I’m convicted of committing this crime?

    Hand Taking MoneyEmbezzlement is a white collar crime in Virginia that is often prosecuted harshly because it involves the betrayal of another’s trust. Many individuals,  such as bank employees, bookkeepers, and treasurers of organizations, can find themselves arrested for this crime. If you are convicted of this offense, you may be sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence and large fines.

    What Is the Crime of Embezzlement?

    Embezzlement is also considered a larceny crime in Virginia. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-111, it is a crime to fraudulently and wrongfully use, dispose of, conceal, or embezzle someone’s property with the intent to permanently deprive him of it. Unlike other larceny crimes, the property must have been entrusted to the accused by the nature of his job, position, or office. Examples of what may constitute embezzlement include:

    • Stealing money from a cash register
       
    • Using a company credit card for personal use
       
    • Writing checks from a company account
       
    • Taking gift cards

    Penalties for Embezzlement in Virginia

    Embezzlement will be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is considered petit larceny if the value of the property that was embezzled was under $500. If the value was $500 or more, the crime is a Class U (unclassified penalty range) grand larceny felony. The possible penalties include:

    • Misdemeanor. Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500
       
    • Felony. Prison sentence of up to 20 years and/or a fine of up to $2,500

    A conviction can also have long-term consequences in your life. You would have a permanent criminal record, which may make it extremely difficult for you to obtain future employment, especially in your same field.

    Have you been charged with embezzlement or another theft crime? Our dedicated and skilled criminal defense attorneys can build a strong defense strategy to fight the charges you face. This can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.

    We represent clients facing criminal charges in Fairfax, Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. To learn more about how we can help, call our Fairfax office to schedule your free case evaluation.