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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  • I’ve heard that the penalties are more severe if I am convicted of a cocaine-related crime. Is this true?

    Gloved Hand Holding a Bag of CocaineIn Virginia, possession or distribution of cocaine are very serious offenses. Cocaine and other controlled substances are divided into different schedules depending on their medicinal use, if any, risk of abuse, and danger of addiction. Cocaine is a Schedule II drug, which is one of the most severe classifications.

    Penalties You May Face for Cocaine Possession

    Under Virginia Code § 18.2-250, it is unlawful for a person to knowingly and intentionally possess cocaine or other Schedule I or II drugs without a valid prescription. In order for you to be convicted, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew or had reason to know that you were possessing cocaine.

    Possession of a Schedule II drug is a Class 5 felony offense. If convicted of possession of cocaine, you may be sentenced to 1 to 10 years in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.

    Penalties Are Increased for the Sale, Distribution, or Manufacture of Cocaine

    Virginia Code § 18.2-248 makes it illegal to sell, distribute or manufacture cocaine. This is a serious felony offense that comes with special penalties:

    • First offense. Five to 40-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $500,000
       
    • Second offense. Five years to life in prison, with a mandatory minimum three-year sentence, and a fine not to exceed $500,000
       
    • Third or subsequent offense. Mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison and a fine of not more than $500,000

    You may face even more severe penalties if convicted of distributing, or selling large quantities of cocaine. Penalties are based on the quantity of cocaine and include:

    • 500 grams. Five years to life in prison, with a five-year mandatory sentence, and a fine of up to $1 million
       
    • 5 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine, its salts, or isomers, or 2.5 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base. 20 years to life in prison, with a 20-year mandatory sentence, and a fine not to exceed $1 million

    Have you been charged with cocaine possession or distribution in Northern Virginia or Fairfax? Our experienced Fairfax drug offense attorneys can help you develop a strong defense strategy so that you achieve the best possible outcome. Call our Fairfax office or start a live chat today to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • What can happen if you have a child in your car and are arrested for DUI?

    In some situations, you can face additional charges or have the penalties enhanced if you are pulled over and arrested for DUI in Virginia. One such circumstance is if you have a child under 17 years old in your vehicle when charged with DUI. If convicted, your sentence will include serious mandatory penalties.

    What Are the Punishments for Transporting a Child While Intoxicated?

    Young Child Sitting in the Backseat of a Car

    Driving when intoxicated with a child under 17 years old is considered a form of child endangerment in Virginia. Under Virginia’s DUI Child Endangerment Law, which is Virginia Code § 18.2-270(D), there are mandatory punishments in addition to those for DUI. For a first offense conviction, the sentence will include:

    • A minimum fine of $500 up to a maximum of $1,000
       
    • Mandatory minimum jail sentence of five days

    Under this law, mandatory minimum sentences are cumulative, and any mandatory minimum jail sentences must be served consecutively. If your DUI resulted in an injury to a child, you may face more serious charges and penalties.

    Being convicted of DUI while transporting a child can result in other long-term consequences in your life. For example, your custody and visitation rights may be limited or lost.

    Contact Our Skilled Lawyers If You Have Been Arrested for DUI

    Have you been charged with DUI child endangerment or another DUI offense in Fairfax or Northern Virginia? It is important to keep in mind that you may have strong defenses to the charges that can result in them being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense even if you are guilty.

    The experienced DUI lawyers at Greenspun Shapiro PC can identify your strongest defenses and create a strategy to help you achieve the best possible outcome given your situation. To learn more about how we can assist you, call our Fairfax office to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • If I refuse to take a breathalyzer test in Virginia, will I be convicted of DUI?

    Police Officer Holding a Breathalyzer in His HandIf you are stopped by the police for a possible DUI, the officer will most likely ask you to take a breathalyzer test on the street to measure the blood alcohol content ("BAC") on your breath. This test is done on a small hand-held device and is known as the preliminary breath test ("PBT"). A test on a larger device will then be administered when you get to the police station to measure your BAC again. Although it is not illegal to decline the PBT on the street, there may be additional consequences for refusing to take the test at the police station, in addition to those consequences you'll face for a DUI conviction. 

    Consequences of Refusing a Preliminary Breath Test Before a DUI Arrest

    In Virginia, you are not required to take a PBT on the street before you are arrested for DUI. The test is voluntary and would be used by the officer in a similar fashion as a field sobriety test to establish probable cause to arrest you for DUI.

    If you refuse the test and are later arrested for DUI, your pre-arrest refusal to take the breathalyzer test cannot be used against you. However, the police can still arrest you for DUI if he has other reasons to believe that you are intoxicated.

    Penalties for Refusing to Take a Breathalyzer Test Under Virginia’s Implied Consent Law

    Virginia Code § 18.2-268.2 is Virginia’s Implied Consent Law, and it provides that you impliedly consent to a breathalyzer test, blood test, or both if you are operating a motor vehicle and are arrested for DUI. This is in reference to the breathalyzer test at the police station. When you are arrested for DUI, the officer must explain the requirement to submit to a test under this law and the punishments for refusing to take it.

    A first offense refusal to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test is a civil offense under Virginia Code § 18.2-268.3. You would face these penalties under the Implied Consent Law:

    • First offense. Your driver’s license would be automatically suspended for one year and there would be no possibility of a restricted license. This is in addition to any suspension if you are also convicted of DUI.
       
    • Subsequent offenses. A second or third violation of the Implied Consent Law would be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Your driver’s license would be suspended for three years, and you may face a jail sentence and a large fine.

    In addition, you can still be convicted of DUI without the results of the breathalyzer or blood test. 

    If you have been arrested for DUI in Northern Virginia or Fairfax, our experienced DUI attorneys can help you build a strong defense—even if you refused to take a required breathalyzer or blood test. To learn more about your defenses and what you can realistically expect to happen in your criminal case, start a live chat to schedule a free initial consultation.

     

  • Why was I charged with driving too fast for traffic and road conditions in Fairfax?

    Speeding Car on a Rural Virginia RoadIn Virginia, there are at least 15 separate offenses that fall under the crime of reckless driving. Many would be charged as less serious traffic violations in another state, such as failing to yield the right of way or not using a turn signal. Driving too fast for traffic and road conditions is a common reckless driving offense that you may be charged with in Virginia—even if you are driving at or below the speed limit.

    What Is Driving Too Fast for Traffic and Road Conditions?

    Under Virginia Code §46.2-861, you can be charged with reckless driving for exceeding “a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time, regardless of any posted speed limit.” What is considered a reasonable speed is in the discretion of the police officer who pulls you over.

    Driving too fast for road and traffic conditions is frequently charged when there has been a motor vehicle accident. Other circumstances where an officer may stop you for driving too fast for conditions include:

    • Weather, such as fog, rain, snow, ice, or sleet
       
    • Slowed traffic due to an accident
       
    • Road construction
       
    • Taking a curve too fast
       
    • Driving too fast on gravel
       
    • Other emergency conditions

    What Are the Penalties for Driving Too Fast for Road and Traffic Conditions?

    Like other reckless driving charges, driving too fast for road and traffic conditions is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, you may face these punishments:

    • Jail sentence of up to one year
       
    • Fine of up to $2,500
       
    • Potential driver’s license suspension of 10 days to six months

    In addition, six demerit points would be added on your driving record, which may increase your vehicle insurance costs significantly. You would also have a permanent criminal record.

    Have you been charged with reckless driving in Fairfax or Northern Virginia? Our experienced reckless driving attorneys can help you develop a strong defense strategy so that the charges against you are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. To find out more about how we can assist you, start a live chat to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • What are the penalties for forging a drug prescription?

    Prescription Drug Bottles That Were Obtained by Forging PrescriptionsIt is a felony offense to engage in prescription drug fraud, such as forging a physician’s prescription in order to obtain opiate-based painkillers or other medications. This crime is prosecuted aggressively in Fairfax and Northern Virginia as one way to combat the increasingly prevalent problem of prescription drug abuse. If you have been charged with forging a drug prescription or a related offense, it is imperative that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help you develop a strong defense strategy to the charges you face.

    Forging a Drug Prescription Offense and Penalties

    Virginia Code § 18.2-258.1 makes it a crime to forge a drug prescription and to engage in a wide range of activities in an effort to obtain drugs through deceit, forgery, or fraud. This law makes it illegal to:

    • Forge, use, or attempt to use a fake prescription
       
    • Use a false name or ID to get or fill a prescription
       
    • Use a fake prescription label
       
    • Steal prescription drugs or prescriptions from an employer
       
    • Give false information about one’s health to a physician to obtain a prescription

    Forging a prescription and other related-crimes under Virginia Code § 18.2-258.1 are charged as a Class 6 felony. If convicted, you may be sentenced to up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. In addition, your license would be suspended for six months. However, there are also potential outcomes to avoid a felony conviction for first time offense prescription fraud charges. It is important to speak to an attorney determine the best outcome in your case. 

    Penalties You May Face for Aiding in Illegally Obtaining Prescription Drugs

    It is also a crime to aid someone in illegally obtaining prescription drugs under Virginia Code § 18.2-258.2. In order to be charged with this crime, a person must be paid for the assistance and know that the prescription drugs were being illegally obtained. The payment can take many forms, such as money, favors, or goods. A first offense is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor, but a subsequent conviction would be Class 6 felony.  

    Have you been charged with forging a drug prescription or a related crime in Fairfax or Northern Virginia? Our experienced Fairfax criminal defense attorneys can help you fight the charges so that they are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. If this is your first offense, we may be able to assist you with other options to reduce your felony charge to a misdemeanor offense. To learn more about your options and how we can assist you, start a live chat to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • What is credit card fraud and what penalties might I face?

    Credit Card Being Used for Credit Card FraudThere are a number of credit card offenses in Virginia that are aggressively prosecuted. One serious crime that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony is credit card fraud. If you are facing these charges, our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you create a successful defense so that you reach the best possible outcome given your circumstances.

    What Is Credit Card Fraud?

    Virginia Code § 18.2-195 makes it a crime for a person to knowingly use a credit card to obtain something of value with the intent to defraud. There are many ways that a person can commit this crime. Some examples include:

    • Knowingly using a stolen, lost, expired, or revoked credit card or credit card number
       
    • Using another individual’s credit card without his permission
       
    • Using an un-issued credit card to obtain something of value
       
    • Obtaining money over the card’s credit limits with the intent to defraud
       
    • Getting control of a credit card or credit card number as security for collateral for a debt

    A person who is authorized to provide goods, services, or anything of value upon the presentation of a valid credit card can also commit credit card fraud if he does any of the following with the intent to deceive the card’s issuer:

    • Gives another individual goods, services, or anything else of value when he knows that the credit card was stolen, expired, or revoked
       
    • Tells the credit card issuer that goods, services, or other things of value were provided to the cardholder when they were not
       
    • Charges a credit card with more than was authorized by the cardholder

    Penalties You May Face If Convicted of Credit Card Fraud

    Credit card fraud can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the goods, services, or other things of value fraudulently obtained. A person may face these penalties:

    • Class 1 misdemeanor. If an individual defrauds another of less than $500 within a six-month period, the offense is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, the person may be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
       
    • Class 6 felony. If the value of the goods, or services is $500 or more within a six-month period, the credit card fraud would be charged as a Class 6 felony. The punishment may be a prison sentence of one to five years and a maximum fine of $2,500. However, the judge or jury deciding the case has the discretion to reduce the sentence to a jail of sentence of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

    Conspiracy to Commit Credit Card Fraud

    It is also a crime to conspire with or help another person to commit credit card fraud under

    Virginia Code § 18.2-195 whether the crime is committed in or outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia. This crime is a Class 6 felony, and the penalties are the same as for a felony credit card fraud offense.

    Have you been charged with credit card fraud? Our experienced white collar crime attorneys understand the complexities of these cases and can help you mount a strong defense to the charges you face. To learn more, call our Fairfax office to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • What are defenses to forgery charges in Virginia?

    Gavel Engraved With Forgery TextForgery is a serious felony offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia no matter the value of what is forged. If convicted, you may be sentenced to significant prison time and a hefty fine. To avoid these harsh consequences, you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can assist you in defending against the charge.

    Common Forgery Crimes in Virginia

    There are a number of forgery-related crimes that you can be charged with committing in Virginia. Three common forgery-related crimes are:

    • Forgery. Virginia Code § 18.2-172 defines forgery as the creation of a false document or alteration of an existing one with the intent to injure or defraud another. This is a Class 5 felony with a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
       
    • Uttering. Uttering is a crime under the same code section as forgery and is often charged with it. However, uttering is a separate offense. It is the use of a false document. If convicted, the sentence is the same as for forgery.
       
    • Forgery by false pretenses. Forgery by false pretenses is also a criminal offense under Virginia Code § 18.2-172. This crime involves obtaining the signature of a person with the intent to defraud him. This is a Class 5 felony with the same penalties as for forgery and uttering.

    Defenses to Forgery Charges

    In order for you to be convicted of a criminal offense, the prosecutor must prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, the elements of the crime of forgery include the act of making or altering a document and the intent to defraud another. Here are some defenses that you may be able to raise if charged with a forgery crime:

    • No intent. Evidence that you did not intend to defraud or deceive another, which is a key element of the crime, is a possible defense.
       
    • Consent. Proving that you created or altered a document with the permission of the alleged victim may be a defense that can result in the charges against you being dismissed.
       
    • Not a forgery. Another possible defense is that the document has not been forged. If you are raising this defense, you may need to hire a handwriting expert to verify the item’s authenticity.

    Have you been arrested for forgery in Fairfax or Northern Virginia? Let our Fairfax criminal defense lawyers aggressively fight the charges you face so that you achieve the best possible outcome given your circumstances. To learn more, call our Fairfax office to schedule a free consultation.

     

  • I was arrested for counterfeiting in Virginia. What penalties might I face?

    Counterfeit Charges Button on a ComputerCounterfeiting is a forgery crime in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is a serious felony offense. If you are convicted of this white collar crime, you may be sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence and ordered to pay hefty fines.

    Counterfeiting Crimes and Penalties in Fairfax

    Counterfeiting involves the making of fake money, which can be either bills or coins. There are several counterfeiting crimes in Virginia:

    • Counterfeiting. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-170, it is a crime to forge a note, coin, or bill of a banking institution with the intent to defraud. It is also illegal to make a coin, bill, or note that purports to be of a banking company that is not in existence. This is a Class 4 felony with a possible sentence of 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
       
    • Uttering counterfeit money. You can be charged with uttering counterfeit money under Virginia Code § 18.2-172 for intentionally trying to pass it off or “utter” it as if it were real money. This crime is a Class 5 felony. Your sentence if convicted can include between 2 and 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $2,500.
       
    • Possessing counterfeit money. Possessing counterfeit coins, bills, or notes, whether or not you also forged them, with the intent to pass them off as real money is also a white-collar offense under Virginia Code § 18.2-173. It can be charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor if you possess less than 10 forged bills or coins or as a Class 6 felony if you have more than 10 coins or bills. If convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor, the penalty is a fine not to exceed $500. A Class 6 felony conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to five years.

    If you have been charged with a counterfeiting crime in Fairfax or Northern Virginia, you cannot afford to take the charges lightly. In addition to the harsh penalties you face, you would have a permanent criminal record with long-term consequences on your ability to obtain a job and other aspects of your life.

    Let our experienced Fairfax criminal defense lawyers help you build a strong defense to the charges you face. Call our Fairfax office or start an online chat to learn more about how we can assist you.

  • When can I be charged with felony murder and what penalties might I face in Virginia?

    Police Car Picking up a Felony Murder SuspectFelony murder is the killing of a person while in the commission of a felony crime in Virginia. It is also referred to as felony homicide. A person can be charged with this crime even if he did not intend to murder. If convicted, the punishment can be decades in prison.

    What Is Felony Murder?

    Under Virginia Code § 18.2-33, felony murder is the accidental killing of a person in the commission of certain felony crimes. This crime can be committed if the victim dies immediately or after the accused person has left the scene of the crime. It is often charged and punished as second-degree murder.

    However, if the felony is an especially serious one, felony murder can be charged as first-degree murder. These offenses include:

    • Rape
       
    • Arson
       
    • Robbery
       
    • Burglary
       
    • Abduction
       
    • Penetration by an inanimate or animate object

    In order to be convicted of felony murder, the prosecutor must prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes proving the following:

    • The act that caused the victim’s death was committed by a person involved in the felony crime.
       
    • The actions that caused the victim’s death were in furtherance of the underlying felony.
       
    • An action of the accused person was the cause of the victim’s death.

    What Are the Penalties for Felony Murder?

    The penalties for felony murder will depend on the type of felony the person is charged with committing and his prior criminal record. However, the punishment for felony homicide is between 5 and 40 years in prison if it is charged as second-degree murder.

    We Can Help You Defend Against Felony Murder Charges in Fairfax

    If you have been charged with felony murder, you need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to fight the very serious charges you face. Even if you are guilty of felony murder or the underlying felony, you may have strong defenses that can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.

    Our skilled and dedicated lawyers are here to mount the strongest defense possible to the charges you face. We will aggressively fight for the best possible outcome in your case and are not afraid to take your case to trial if this is in your best interests. To learn more about how we can assist you, call our Fairfax office or start an online chat to schedule a free consultation.

  • What penalties might a teen face for sexting?

    Young Teen Girl Sexting on Cell PhoneSexting is the sending of nude or sexually suggestive photographs to others through a text message. This is becoming an increasingly common practice among teens. However, sexting is a crime in Virginia. While some states have enacted laws making the penalties less harsh when the sexting is between teenagers, this is not the case in Virginia.

    What Is the Crime of Teen Sexting?

    There is no specific crime of teen sexting in Virginia. Instead, a teenager would be charged with a state or federal child pornography offense. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-374.1:1, it is a crime to be in the possession of or to distribute child pornography. This includes creating, possessing, sending, or resending sexually explicit pictures of minors under 18 years old through text messages. There is no distinction between adults and juveniles under this law.

    Because sexting is charged as a child pornography offense, it is a felony in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If convicted, a teen may face these penalties:

    • First offense. A first offense of possession of child pornography is a Class 6 felony. Upon conviction, a person may face up to five years in prison.
       
    • Second offense. A second or subsequent violation would be a Class 5 felony. The sentence may include a prison sentence of 1 to 10 years and a fine of up to $2,500.

    A teenager charged with sexting may be prosecuted in Virginia’s juvenile court system rather than the adult criminal court. In this situation, the judge would have more discretion in the punishment imposed if a teen is convicted.

    Contact Our Experienced Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help

    Has your teenager been charged with a child pornography offense for sexting in Fairfax or Northern Virginia? We represent clients facing both state and federal charges. Our skilled criminal defense lawyers can put on a strong defense to the charges he faces so that they are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. Call our Fairfax office or fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free consultation today to find out more about how we can assist you.