Virginia Criminal Law Frequently Asked Questions
Experienced lawyers provide answers to your criminal defense questions
The Law Office of Jeremiah A. Denton III has served the Virginia Beach community since 1980. We believe that education about the law helps our clients make good decisions about their criminal law cases. Read our responses to frequently asked criminal law questions. Then schedule an appointment with our law firm to discuss your individual case in detail.
Learn more about criminal law from our knowledgeable attorneys in Virginia Beach
To get answers to your criminal law questions, call The Law Office of Jeremiah A. Denton III at 757-215-4818 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.
- Is my traffic citation considered a criminal matter?
- What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
- Should I be concerned about having a felony conviction on my record?
- I have been accused of a crime I didn’t commit. Won’t the prosecution view my retaining a criminal defense lawyer as an admission of guilt?
- Shouldn’t I try to explain what happened to the police officer so I can be exonerated?
- What does the expression “innocent until proven guilty” mean and how does it apply to my criminal charges?
- What must the prosecution show for me to be found guilty?
- What is deferred prosecution in Virginia?
- How do I know whether it is better to accept a plea bargain or go to trial?
- Will I have to take the stand at my trial?
Is my traffic citation considered a criminal matter?
Most traffic matters are deemed violations of the public order, not criminal offenses. DUI, reckless driving or driving on a suspended license are examples of traffic offenses that are also criminal offenses. Other moving violations — such as speeding or running a red light — are not criminal offenses, but can have other repercussions, including increased insurance rates and driver’s license suspension for repeat offenders.
What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
Misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 fine. Felonies are more serious crimes and are punishable by at least one year of imprisonment and up to life in prison or the death penalty. The harshness of the sentence corresponds to the severity of the crime.
Should I be concerned about having a felony conviction on my record?
A felony conviction imposes life-long restrictions on your rights to vote, own a gun, obtain a green card and pursue certain employment opportunities.
I have been accused of a crime I didn’t commit. Won’t the prosecution view my retaining a criminal defense lawyer as an admission of guilt?
You have a Constitutional right to competent legal representation if you are accused of a crime. You are not admitting guilt when you exercise your fundamental rights.
Shouldn’t I try to explain what happened to the police officer so I can be exonerated?
At the time of your arrest, the officer read you Miranda warnings that included, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.” Exercise your Constitutional right to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you and rarely helps you or exonerates you.
What does the expression “innocent until proven guilty” mean and how does it apply to my criminal charges?
You are considered innocent even after criminal charges are filed against you. You remain innocent under the law while your case is pending and upon acquittal. You are only considered guilty if you either plead guilty to a judge or are found guilty in a jury trial.
What must the prosecution show for me to be found guilty?
For you to be found guilty, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each and every element of the crime you are accused of committing.
What is deferred prosecution in Virginia?
Deferred prosecution is an agreement with the prosecution that allows first-time offenders in specific nonviolent crimes to avoid charges if they meet certain requirements and fulfill all of their obligations under the agreement.
How do I know whether it is better to accept a plea bargain or go to trial?
This can often be a difficult choice. The Law Office of Jeremiah A. Denton III determines what type of evidence the prosecution has against you and investigates your case for exonerating information. Our Virginia Beach lawyers aggressively negotiate with the state attorney for a fair plea deal, if it is in your best interest to do so, and advise you on whether trial or a plea would produce the best possible outcome in your case.
Will I have to take the stand at my trial?
Your Constitutional right against self-incrimination extends from the investigation to the trial phase of your case. You do not have to take the stand at trial. However, you have the right to take the stand if you want. Our attorneys advise you whether taking the stand will hurt or help your case.