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.

  • Page 3
  • Why should I retain an attorney in my personal injury case?

    How an Attorney Can Help Your Personal Injury ClaimAfter a personal injury accident, it is common to feel overwhelmed with coping with serious injuries, the inability to work, and the changes in your life. On top of this, you will not have your usual wages to count on to pay your living expenses and expensive medical bills while you are off work recovering. You know you should file a claim for compensation with the negligent party’s insurance company, but may be tempted to handle settling your claim yourself to save money. However, this would be a bad decision and may actually cost you money in the long run.

    Reasons Why You Need to Hire an Attorney to Negotiate Your Personal Injury Claim Settlement

    First of all, you should not be worried about the cost of hiring an experienced personal injury attorney. Most lawyers handle these cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you only owe a fee if your attorney wins your case in a settlement or at trial. In addition, the attorney fees are taken out of the settlement, so you do not have to pay attorney fees up front. Even more importantly, retaining an attorney can strengthen your case and make it more likely that you will receive the compensation that you deserve. Here are some of the ways that an attorney can help:

    • Investigation. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of your accident to prove how it happened and that the negligent party was at fault in causing your injuries. He may visit the scene of your accident, interview witnesses, collect pictures and videotapes, and obtain documents and other information from the negligent business or individual.
       
    • Knowledge of laws and procedures. If you retain an attorney who is experienced in handling your type of personal injury claim, he will understand the laws and procedures that govern your case. This includes knowing the time limit that you have to sue, the types of compensation you may receive, and the procedural rules you must follow when pursuing your civil case in court.
       
    • Value of your claim. An attorney who has a track record of success in settling and trying personal injury cases will have the experience and understanding to determine the true value of your claim. This is often substantially more than what the insurance adjuster for the negligent party claims.
       
    • Liable parties. In some personal injury cases, more than one party is found to be negligent and responsible for compensating the victim. Your attorney will be able to identify all the potentially liable parties in your case and attempt to negotiate settlements with them so that you are fully compensated for your injuries.
       
    • Settlement and litigation. An attorney will be skilled in negotiating settlements of claims like yours and will have strategies to defeat the insurance company’s tactics to reduce or deny your claim. If the insurance company refuses to be reasonable, he can file a lawsuit on your behalf.

    Do you need to file a claim for compensation for your injuries following a personal injury accident? Call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about our experience handling these claims and how we can assist you.

     

  • Can I get my reckless driving charge reduced to a lesser offense in Virginia?

    In Virginia, there are a variety of traffic violations that may constitute reckless driving, which is a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia and carries up to a $2,500.00 fine, up to a year in jail, and could also lead to suspension or revocation of your driver's license. For example, Virginia Code § 46.2-862 makes driving 20 mph or more over the speed limit or over 80 mph reckless driving. Virginia Code § 46.2-852 very broadly defines reckless driving as driving recklessly or in a manner that endangers a person or his property. You should not take receiving a reckless driving ticket lightly because it is a misdemeanor offense that may result in having a permanent criminal record and carries stringent punishments.

    When a Reckless Driving Charge Can Be Reduced to Improper Driving

    Your first step should be to retain an experienced reckless driving attorney if you are charged with this offense. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney may be able toReckless Driving Charges in Virginia reduce your charge or have it dismissed. While working towards a dismissal of the charge is always the goal, often a reduction of the charge is the best that can be done.

    If you have been charged with reckless driving, Virginia Code § 46.2-869 allows the judge or prosecutor to reduce a reckless driving offense to improper driving if the culpability is slight. Numerous factors play into the determination of whether culpability is slight. Having an experienced attorney on your side will help ensure the factors the court finds most persuasive are shared in court or with the prosecutor so you can avoid the penalties associated with reckless driving.

    The penalties for reckless driving are very different than the penalties associated with improper driving convictions:

    • Reckless driving is generally a class 1 misdemeanor with penalties of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Your driver’s license can be suspended for up to six months, and six demerit points are assessed by the DMV, which will remain on your record for 11 years. This is on top of a permanent criminal record.
       
    • Improper driving is a traffic infraction and carries up to a $500 fine. There is no possibility of jail time or license suspension if convicted of improper driving. In addition, only three demerit points are assessed by the DMV, and those points will remain on your record for only three years instead of eleven.

    A number of factors can affect whether or not you will be able to get a reckless driving charge reduced to improper driving, a different charge, or have the charge completely dismissed. Having a clean driving record, showing this was a borderline speeding case, performing community service, and taking a driver improvement or educational course are a few of the positive factors that may result in your charges being reduced.

    Have you been charged with reckless driving? Let our experienced reckless driving attorneys help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Call us to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • How can social media posts affect my DUI criminal case?

    Social Media Can Play a Big Role in Your Criminal CaseOdds are that you likely use social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to stay in contact with friends and family and to share fun activities and experiences with your social network. While this may be harmless in general, posts about social events where you are consuming alcohol or about your arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) can be harmful to your criminal case. It is important that you understand how prior social media posts can help the police build a case against you, and why it is important to avoid posting anything in the future that may make your situation worse. As a general rule, you should never post anything on social media about any pending criminal case you are facing without first consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Whatever you post online is not private or confidential, and it may be used by law enforcement if they find it. 

    How Social Media Posts Can Harm You If You Face DUI Charges

    It is not only your own posts but also the posts about you or where you are tagged by family or friends that can cause problems when you are charged with DUI, as well as other offenses. Here are some of the ways that social media posts can be damaging:

    • Not private. The police and prosecutor may search your public social media sites at various times during your criminal case to look for evidence that can help them prove your guilt. Even if you have changed your social media site settings to private, this does not mean that they cannot obtain your social media history. A judge can issue a subpoena that gives them access to this information.
       
    • Deleted posts. Some people charged with DUI attempt to delete prior incriminating posts. However, the police may obtain a subpoena allowing them to recover this information directly from the social media company. In addition, the fact that you deleted the posts may be considered intentional and may result in you receiving a harsher penalty if you are convicted.
       
    • Location information. The police can obtain cell phone data to determine the time and location of calls, texts, and other uses of your cell phone. In addition, when you post on Facebook, the time and location of your post will also be logged. All of this information can be used to create a timeline of where you were before your DUI arrest to help prove that you were consuming alcohol or that you drank more than you claim.

    What happens if you already posted damaging posts on your social media sites? An experienced Fairfax DUI attorney will have strategies to handle problems these posts may pose to your criminal case. To learn about our years of experience helping our clients fight DUI charges and what to expect in your criminal case, fill out our online form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

     

  • Will a reckless driving conviction affect my ability to obtain a green card?

    Green Cards and How a Criminal Conviction Affects itIf you are charged with reckless driving, a conviction can involve many more consequences than the actual sentence that you face. A conviction would result in a permanent criminal record, and you may find that the conviction affects your ability to obtain employment, a professional license, or a loan. Your worries can be magnified if you have come to the United States from another country and are applying for lawful permanent residency, also know as a green card, to remain here and work.

    How a Conviction Affects Your Ability to Obtain a Green Card

    A green card can be the first step in the process of becoming a permanent resident and a United States citizen, but you must meet specific requirements in order to obtain it. On the application, you will be asked whether you have been "arrested, charged, indicted, convicted, fined, or imprisoned for breaking or violating any law or ordinance, excluding traffic violations." A reckless driving charge is most frequently a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is more serious than a traffic infraction. If your reckless driving resulted in someone’s death, you may be convicted of a Class 6 felony.

    A reckless driving conviction might not prevent you from obtaining a green card, especially if it is a misdemeanor conviction, but it can make the process more complicated. How seriously the conviction will impact your immigration status will depend on a number of factors. Some of these include:

    • Whether you are being charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense
       
    • Whether or not anyone was injured or killed
       
    • Whether or not you have any other criminal charges on your record and the severity of these charges
       
    • Whether or not you were driving while intoxicated due to alcohol or drug use at the time of your reckless driving charges

    You will need to consult with an immigration attorney to determine exactly how a reckless driving conviction may affect your green card status.

    If you are facing reckless driving charges and applying for a green card, it is vital that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. Even if you believe that you are guilty, you may have defenses that may result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious traffic offense that would not affect your green card application. To find out how our experienced legal team can help, start an online chat to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • What are the possible defenses to a reckless driving ticket in Virginia?

    Reckless Driving ChargesReckless driving charges can have long-term consequences on your life. A conviction is a Class 1 misdemeanor and will result in you having a permanent criminal record. However, there are a number of defenses that you may be able to raise—with the help of an experienced reckless driving attorney—that may result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense with much less severe penalties.

    What Is Reckless Driving in Virginia?

    The Commonwealth of Virginia takes reckless driving very seriously, and there are at least 15 offenses that may constitute reckless driving. Reckless driving generally involves speeding. Here are the most common offenses:

    • Under Virginia Code § 46.2-862, you may be charged with reckless driving for driving over the speed limit by 20 miles per hour or more or in excess of 80 miles per hour.
       
    • Under Virginia Code § 46.2-852, it is illegal to drive recklessly or in a way that endangers the life or property of any person. This is a broad catch-all offense that gives the police broad leeway to charge you with reckless driving.

    If convicted of reckless driving, you face a sentence of up to 12 months in jail, a fine of $2,500, and six demerit points on your driving record.

    Defenses That May Help You Beat Reckless Driving Charges

    You will need the help of an experienced attorney to determine what defenses apply to your situation. However, the following are common defenses raised in these cases:

    • Location. The Commonwealth must prove that the reckless driving offense took place in the correct county or city where you were charged. If you were near the border between jurisdictions when you were charged, the officer who charged you may not have had authority to do so, in which case the charges may be dismissed.
       
    • Highway. This is another situation-specific defense. A highway is defined broadly in Virginia to include highways and many public roads. However, if your offense occurred in a gated community or another private roadway, you may not be able to be charged with this offense.
       
    • Radar or Lidar Calibration. If you are charged with reckless driving, the Commonwealth must establish that the radar or LIDAR used to check your speed was properly calibrated and working properly on the date you were charged. The device must have been calibrated within the prior six months, and the officer must have a valid certification that meets specific statutory requirements. The lack of a calibration certificate or a defective one are common defenses raised by experienced reckless driving attorneys that may result in the charges being lessened, or in some circumstances, dismissed.
       
    • Equipment use. Another defense related to the radar or LIDAR speed findings is that the police did not use the equipment properly. Use of these devices requires special training and experience. An experienced lawyer may be able to challenge how the officer used the device in order to get the reckless driving charge dismissed.
       
    • Your speedometer. In some cases, getting your speedometer calibrated can prove that the speedometer was not working properly and that you were unaware of the speed at which you were traveling. If you plan to claim that you were not speeding, you may have to have your speedometer calibrated. However, in many cases, the calibration shows no inaccuracies, so you want to discuss whether you should spend the money for this with your attorney before having it done.
       
    • GPS defense. A common defense can be that a person’s GPS showed that he was going at a lower speed than the officer claims. This can be a powerful defense. However, for it to be successful, you will need to show proof of the GPS reading at the time you were charged with this offense and proof that the GPS was accurate.

    Let Our Experienced Reckless Driving Attorneys Help

    These are just a few of the defenses that you may be able to raise to beat reckless driving charges. An experienced reckless driving attorney will be able to spot all of the helpful defenses in your case, as well as suggest other actions that you can take to minimize the penalties you face. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our reckless driving legal team to learn more about your defenses and our extensive experience in these cases.

     

  • I received a ticket for reckless driving in Virginia. What do I do?

    Reckless Driving in VirginiaIf you are charged with reckless driving in Virginia, you may not realize the serious consequences of a conviction, or that you may have options to lessen them. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense in Virginia with penalties that include possible jail time and hefty fines. In addition, a guilty plea or plea of no contest would result in a permanent criminal record. Here, we share your options if you receive a reckless driving ticket so that you can minimize the harsh consequences you face.

    What Is Reckless Driving in Virginia?

    Reckless driving is treated seriously in Virginia, and you may be charged with this for more than just speeding. There are at least 15 separate reckless driving offenses, and they include the following:

    Penalties for Reckless Driving

    Reckless driving is a Class I misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. The court may also suspend your driver's license for up to six months. A conviction for reckless driving also results in a permanent criminal record and may hinder your ability to obtain certain employment or successfully undergo a thorough background check. In addition, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will impose six demerit points for a reckless driving conviction, why may in turn lead to higher insurance premiums.

    Options for Handling Your Reckless Driving Ticket

    You have a number of options for handling your reckless driving ticket, but not all are in your best interests. If your goal is to minimize the penalties, some of your choices will not lead to this result. However, it is still useful to know all your options before making the important decision of how to proceed in your case. These include the following:

    • Ignore the ticket. It is never a good idea to ignore a reckless driving ticket. If you do nothing after being ticketed for reckless driving, you may be found guilty by the judge at your hearing in your absence. A warrant may also be issued for your arrest.
       
    • Plead guilty or no contest. Another option would be to appear in court unrepresented and plead guilty or no contest. However, if you do this, you will be found guilty and end up with a permanent conviction. You will have a permanent criminal record that may affect your ability to obtain a job, a professional license, and more.
       
    • Represent yourself. While you may be tempted to represent yourself at your court hearing, the stakes of a conviction are high enough that this option is almost certainly not in your best interests. You may not know the technical requirements for the police officer to prove the charge, and you may be unaware of certain defenses that may apply. Moreover, you may lose out on the opportunity to have an experienced attorney negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution in order to potentially obtain a more favorable outcome.
       
    • Retain an attorney. Your best option is to retain an experienced traffic law attorney who has a record of success in handling reckless driving cases. The attorney can investigate the circumstances surrounding your ticket, raise any defenses you may have, and fight to get the ticket dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.

    Pick the Right Option. Contact Our Office Today

    Were you charged with reckless driving? Make the right choice and contact our experienced traffic law attorneys today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. We will explain your legal options and how we may be able to fight to get the ticket dismissed or reduced to a lesser traffic violation.

     

  • What is a protective order? What are the different types of protective orders?

    When referencing restraining orders or court orders prohibiting contact between individuals, you have probably heard the terms “emergency protective order,” “two-year protective order,” and “preliminary protective order” used interchangeably.  However, while they are all forms of restraining orders, they each have a different meaning.  

    Why Do People Get Protective Orders?

    Abused spouse seeking protection order in Virginia

    Protective orders are necessary and highly beneficial in a lot of abusive relationships, but people will often seek protective orders unnecessarily to gain leverage in domestic disputes.  Protective orders are civil matters; therefore, if you are served with a protective order it is not a criminal charge and you will not have a criminal record.  However, protective orders often go hand-in-hand with criminal matters.  Regardless of the reason, it is important you seek counsel if you need a protective order or have been served with one.

    Where Are Protective Order Hearings Held?

    Hearings will be held in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court if the alleged abuse is committed against a family or household member; otherwise, the hearing will be held in the General District Court.

    What Are The Different Types of Protective Orders?

    1. Emergency Protective Order

    An emergency protective order pursuant to Virginia Code § 16.1-253.4 is typically issued by a magistrate or judge upon the request of a law enforcement officer who issued a warrant for domestic assault and battery.  In other words, if someone is arrested for domestic assault, an emergency protective order will be issued to protect the victim.  These protective orders are short and only last for 72 hours.  The purpose of an emergency protective order is to provide the victim a safe window of time to file for a preliminary protective order.

    2. Preliminary Protective Order

    Preliminary protective orders pursuant to Virginia Code § 16.1-253.1 are the first step toward obtaining a permanent protective order.  Preliminary protective orders are issued by a judge if the victim can establish probable cause that he or she was recently abused or is in reasonable fear of being abused.  If abuse has been established, the judge will grant a preliminary protective order, which lasts for 15 days.  Because the respondent, or person against which the preliminary protective order is filed, has the right to have his or her side heard, a full hearing on the matter is set within those 15 days.  A judge will hear the evidence and then determine whether or not to grant a permanent protective order.

    3. Two-Year Protective Order

    A two-year protective order may be issued pursuant to Virginia Code § 19.2-152.1.  While many people refer to this as a “permanent” protective order, it is not permanent because it can only be issued for a maximum of two years in Virginia.  To grant the two-year protective order, a judge must find by a preponderance of the evidence that the victim has suffered an act of family abuse (Virginia Code § 16.1-228) or an act of violence, force or threat (Virginia Code § 19.2-152.7:1), placing him or her in fear. 

    What Kind of Protection or Relief Can I Get with a Protective Order?

    Virginia Code § 16.1-279.1 provides the remedies and relief the court can grant with the issuance of a two-year protective order.  This can range from exclusive use and possession of a residence and/or car, to temporary visitation, custody and/or child support related to couples’ children.

    What is a Protective Order Violation?

    Violation of a protective order can have serious consequences such as mandatory jail time and misdemeanor or felony convictions (Virginia Code § 16.1-253.2).  In other words, although the issuance of a protective order does not mean you have a criminal record, if you violate the order, you will be charged criminally.  You can violate a protective order simply by sending a text message or email, if the order requires absolutely no contact.  It is possible to fashion a protective order to allow for some communication if necessary (such as in cases of parents with shared custody of children); however, the court’s order must be strictly followed. 

    Can I Extend the Protective Order for More Than Two Years?

    Virginia Code § 19.2-152.10:B allows a protective order to be extended prior to the expiration of the two years if the court finds the victim needs further protection. 

    Each order provides a source of safety and protection to someone who has been abused; however, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney at Greenspun Shapiro if you would like to petition for a protective order or have been served with a protective order.  

  • What are common motions that may affect the outcome of your personal injury case?

    Pre-Trial Motions and Personal Injury CasesEven an experienced personal injury attorney cannot always settle personal injury claims without the need for litigation—at least for what the victim is entitled to. If you were hurt in a car, slip and fall, or other personal injury accident, you may have to file a lawsuit as part of your fight to obtain the compensation that you deserve. Pre-trial motions can play an important role in the resolution of your case.

    Pre-Trial Motions That May Be Filed in Your Personal Injury Case

    A pre-trial motion is a legal document filed in your civil lawsuit that asks the judge to make a certain decision in your case for a specific legal reason. There are two types of pre-trial motions in civil cases: dispositive and non-dispositive motions. Dispositive motions are ones that can resolve a case while non-dispositive motions resolve specific issues or problems in the case. Common motions that may be filed in your civil lawsuit include:

    • Motion to dismiss. A motion to dismiss asks the judge to dismiss your lawsuit against the negligent party and is often based on legal deficiencies. For example, if there is no legal basis for your claim, the opposing party may ask that your complaint be dismissed. If the statute of limitations to sue has expired, this may be another reason that this motion would be granted. Other reasons motions to dismiss are granted include the complaint being filed in the wrong court or the negligent party not being properly served with the complaint.
       
    • Motion for summary judgment. When the facts are not disputed, a party may file a motion for summary judgment arguing that they should win the case based on the law. For example, if there was compelling evidence of the other party’s negligence, your attorney may file a motion for summary judgment asking that the judge find the party was negligent. Then the only dispute would be about the amount of compensation that you should receive.
       
    • Motion to compel. There will be a long period in your case where the attorneys are engaging in discovery, where the parties send each other questions to answer, and requests for production of documents. When a party is uncooperative and fails to produce the requested documents, your attorney may need to file a motion to compel them to do so through an order issued by the judge.
       
    • Motion to exclude experts. In personal injury cases, experts can help prove or disprove the at-fault party’s negligence, your injuries, and the amount of compensation that you may be entitled to. Experts must be qualified based on their education, training, and work history. In some cases, your attorney or the lawyer for the negligent party may file a motion to exclude a specific expert, arguing that he is not qualified to issue an opinion in your case.
       
    • Motion in limine. A motion in limine asks the judge to exclude certain evidence from being used when filing a motion or at trial. The basis of the motion is often that the evidence is more prejudicial than worthwhile.
       
    • Motion for default judgment. If the negligent party fails to file an answer to the complaint by the time limit set by the court, your attorney may file a motion for a default judgment asking the judge to award you the compensation that you are requesting in the lawsuit.

    What Happens After a Pre-Trial Motion Is Filed?

    Once an attorney files a pre-trial motion, the court clerk will schedule a hearing with the judge. At the hearing, both the attorney who filed the motion and the other attorneys in the case will be present. You may or may not need to attend the motion hearing. The attorneys will present a short oral argument to the judge as to why the judge should rule in their favor. The judge will either make a decision at the hearing or will send out a written decision at a later date.

    Do you need to pursue a personal injury claim for injuries caused by a car wreck, slip and fall, or other accident? Our experienced personal injury attorneys can explain how these claims work and how we can assist you in fighting for the compensation that you deserve. Call our Fairfax office today to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • Firearm Rights: When and How They May Be Lost and Restored

    Gun control rightsWhile the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution gives individuals the right to bear arms, the states have wide discretion in regulating who can own, use, or otherwise handle firearms, the scope of such privileges, and how to regain those privileges if they have been lost.  One of the most common ways to lose your firearm privileges is to be convicted of a felony.  This article discusses what issues arise concerning firearm possession, use, and handling after being convicted of a state-level felony.  However, there are other ways that an individual who is not convicted of a felony may lose his right to own, possess, use, or otherwise handle firearms in Virginia.

    The main provisions disqualifying individuals in Virginia from gun possession, use, or handling are concentrated in Code §§ 18.2-308.1 through 18.2-311.  It may surprise you to find out that you do not even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your right to possess a firearm.  For example, Code § 18.2-308.1:1 through § 18.2-308.1:3 all deal with situations involving mental health issues.  If a person is acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity at the time the offense was committed, they cannot own a firearm.  Likewise, if someone was involuntarily committed or declared incompetent, they cannot possess, use, or otherwise handle a firearm.  A violation of any of these provisions can be punished as a class 1 misdemeanor.

    If you have lost the ability to possess a firearm for a reason concerning your mental competence, you can seek to regain those rights.  A person who falls into this situation must seek reinstatement from the General District Court for the jurisdiction in which they live. Or, if the person is not Virginia residents, in the General District Court for the jurisdiction that last heard a matter concerning the proceedings that led to disqualification.  The person seeking reinstatement of their rights must show to the Court that they “will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety and that the [reinstatement of rights] would not be contrary to the public interest.”  Code § 18.2-308.1:1.  In deciding whether restoration is appropriate, the Court must consider the individual’s criminal history, treatment record, and reputation as developed through character witness statements, testimony, or other character evidence.

    Another way an individual may lose the right to possess, use, or otherwise handle a firearm is by having a protective order in place.  Protective orders, which are civil cases, have the ancillary consequence of depriving individuals the right to possess, use, purchase, or otherwise handle firearms.  Violating this law can lead to a class 1 misdemeanor conviction.  There is also no way to restore the right to possess a firearm while a protective order is in place.  However, upon expiration of the protective order, the right to possess, use, or otherwise handle firearms is automatically restored.

    In Virginia, a person who is not legally present in the United States and is not a citizen also cannot possess, use, or otherwise handle a firearm.  If a person who is not here legally is in possession of a firearm, they can be convicted of a class 6 felony.  This will have additional negative consequences for the person.

    A third and less commonly known way to have one’s firearm rights limited is after being convicted of two or more misdemeanors within 36 months.  For this law to disqualify an individual, the two misdemeanor convictions must be drug-related.  Even if a person falls within the provisions of this statute, they are only ineligible to “purchase or transport a handgun.”  There is no limitation on using or continuing to own handguns that were previously obtained by the individual.  Additionally, this statute only puts a prohibition on handguns, but not rifles, shotguns, or other types of guns.  Moreover, five years after the last conviction, this restriction is automatically removed.  

    If you need clarification on whether you can possess, use, or otherwise handle a firearm, we are here to help.  If you need help restoring your rights because they were lost or restricted because of one of the circumstances above, we can help you with that too.  Give us a call to find out what can be done to preserve your constitutional rights.

  • I’ve Been Convicted of a Felony: What Does This Mean for My Gun Rights and What Can Be Done About It?

    Gun in background of Virginia State flagThe most common reason someone could lose their right to possess, use, transport, or do anything else with a firearm is a felony conviction.  Virginia Code § 18.2-308.2 sets out the laws regarding firearm possession, use, and handling for convicted felons.  Despite having lax gun laws, Virginia imposes stiff punishments on individuals who lose their right to possess, use, or otherwise handle firearms.

    Doing a prohibited act as defined by Code § 18.2-308.2 is considered a class 6 felony.  If a violator’s last felony conviction was within the last 10 years, he will receive a mandatory minimum prison sentence of two years.  If someone violates this section and was previously convicted of a violent felony set out in Code § 17.1-805, then he faces a mandatory jail sentence of five years in prison.

    It does not matter if the felony conviction has anything to do with guns or violence.  Any type of felony conviction is enough to disqualify a convicted felon from owning, using, or otherwise dealing with firearms.  If you lose your rights due to a Virginia or other state-level conviction, however, you may be able to get them back. The information below does not apply to people who have been convicted of federal felonies.  

    First of all, even if you’re a convicted felon, there are certain circumstances under which you may still be able to possess, use, or otherwise handle a firearm.  In Code § 18.2-308.2(B) there are five exceptions to the general rule that one cannot possess, use, or otherwise handle a firearm after being convicted of a felony.  Furthermore, in Code § 18.2-308.2(C2), convicted felons who are not convicted of certain violent felonies may possess, use, or otherwise handle antique firearms and black powder as defined in Code § 18.2-308.2:2(G).

    If, however, you want to get unrestricted firearm privileges after being convicted of a felony, you must go through several steps.  First, you would need to have your civil rights restored by the governor of the state in which you were convicted.  Each state has different procedures for civil rights restorations.  

    Next, if the governor has restored your rights, then you may petition the Circuit Court for the area in which you live, if you live in Virginia, or the Circuit Court that last held proceedings concerning your most recent felony conviction, if you live outside of Virginia.  The Circuit Court will then hold a hearing, and you must explain to the court why there is “good cause” to reinstate your ability to possess, use, or otherwise handle firearms.  The court has wide discretion in determining whether good cause was shown, but it is not required to consider any specific criteria in reaching this decision.  If the court agrees to grant you firearm-related privileges, it can impose various conditions related to gun possession, use, or handling.

    If you have been disqualified from gun ownership due to a felony conviction and wish to have those rights restored, contact us to see what can be done in your case.