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Fairfax/Manassas Criminal & Personal Injury Blog

Is cyberbullying a crime in Virginia?

Young people nowadays use social media as a way to communicate with their peers and share information. However, some teens in Virginia take things too far by using websites and apps like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, to engage in cyberbullying. Cyberbullying may involve sending threats online or posting hostile or vulgar messages directed at another person with the intent to hurt them. Teens may even post others' private information or inappropriate, Photoshopped images of another person to embarrass them in front of their peers.

Many people know that cyberbullying is immoral and inappropriate, but they may be unaware that it can be classified as a juvenile criminal offense in the state of Virginia. According to state law, anyone who knowingly threatens to injure or kill another person can face a Class 6 felony charge, which may result in up to five years in jail. Using a computer to harass another person is also a crime and may qualify as a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, a young person may face $2,500 in fines and 12 months in jail.

Assistance in navigating juvenile crimes

A large part of being young is making mistakes. While many of these errors don't result in major punishment or consequence, some unfortunately involve more serious events. Even for many of these mistakes, however it's important to recognize that every young person deserves the opportunity for a second chance. That second chance may only come with proper representation.

For parents, learning that their daughter or son has been charged with a crime is news that may not fully sink in right away. While it can cause a fair amount of stress and fear in the short term, these charges can have life-long impacts on the life of the young person. From negative effects on current schooling and higher education to losing out on employment opportunities, juvenile crimes have the potential to be a huge roadblock toward the goal of a successful and fulfilled life.

Defending against DUI charges

Virginia has some of the strictest drunk driving laws in the country. A DUI conviction can result in jail time, hefty fines, license suspension, alcohol treatment programs and other serious consequences. That is why it is so important to do everything you can to defend yourself against these charges. With the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney, you may be able to use one or more of the following defenses to protect yourself.

One of the most common defenses against a DUI charge is claiming that the officer who pulled you over lacked reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. The officer must have had reasonable suspicion that you were committing a crime in order to pull you over or approach your vehicle. For example, driving erratically or violating a traffic law may give the officer reason to suspect that you were driving under the influence. If they pulled you over simply based on a "hunch," that may not be enough to establish reasonable suspicion.

Woman faces criminal charges in Virginia for alleged fraud scheme

When a person is accused of deceiving a person or entity for their own personal gain, they may face fraud charges. A Virginia woman was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud for her role in a $5 million fraud scheme. The woman apparently told multiple alleged victims that she needed money to pay for healthcare software, supposedly bought out of escrow in Austria. Prosecutors say the woman used the money to buy luxury items and travel. She is accused of spending about $1 million on shopping at stores like Chanel and Gucci, and another $1 million on luxury travel.

One of the alleged victims was a 71-year-old woman with cancer who made two wire payments for a total of $95,000. The woman facing charges apparently got an attorney to create documents to make the payments seem legal.

Senate passes bill legalizing drunk driving on private property

Driving under the influence of alcohol can result in drunk driving charges. If you are convicted of a DUI, you may lose your license, as well as face jail time, probation and fines. However, according to a bill recently passed in the Virginia Senate, you may be legally allowed to drive while intoxicated on your own property.

The current law prohibits drinking and driving, but does not differentiate between public and private property. However, Senator Richard Stuart presented SB 308, which states that the current law should only applies to public roadways. In other words, people who are driving under the influence while on their own private property or are drinking in their vehicles on their own private property cannot be charged with a DUI.

Sexting may no longer be a felony charge for Virginia juveniles

According to Virginia law, anyone who sends or receives sexually explicit photos or videos of a minor may be charged with a felony. As the law currently stands, even teenagers who willingly send and receive "sexts" from other teenagers, could be charged with dissemination and possession of child pornography. Currently, in cases involving "sexting" amongst minors, prosecutors only have two options: do nothing or bring felony charges against a minor, who will be permanently labeled as a felony sex offender if convicted.

However, a new bill that passed in the Virginia Senate gives prosecutors a third option: to charge minors who send sexual images to another minor with a Class 1 misdemeanor, as long as the minor did not intend to harass or intimidate or extort money. If convicted, the minor could face up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.

Virginia bill addresses penalties for marijuana possession

Marijuana has been legalized in many states for both medicinal and recreational use. While the state of Virginia has yet to pull the trigger on decriminalizing marijuana, some lawmakers are trying to reduce the penalties for people who have been charged with marijuana possession for the first time.

Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment Jr., has proposed legislation that would apply deferred disposition to first-time offenders. This essentially means that those who have been charged with marijuana possession for the first time may have their charges dismissed if they meet certain conditions. Once the alleged offenders go through the process, the bill may also allow them to have their arrest expunged from their criminal records. Deferred disposition decisions will be recorded in a separate database to make sure that only first-time offenders are benefitting from these new laws.

When do juveniles get prosecuted as adults in Virginia?

If you are accused of a crime as a juvenile in Virginia, you may be tried as a juvenile or adult. If a juvenile is tried and convicted as an adult, they could face the same consequences as someone over the age of 18, even if they are still a minor.

In order to be tried as an adult in court, the juvenile must have been 14 years of age or older at the time of the alleged crime. The alleged juvenile criminal offense must also qualify as a felony if an adult had committed the same crime. Felonies generally fall into six classes, with a Class 1 felony being the most serious and a Class 6 felony being the least serious.

Virginia Uber driver charged after alleged sexual assault

A woman recently claimed that she was sexually assaulted by her Uber driver in Virginia. The woman asserted that the male driver picked her up in Herndon and stopped the vehicle while on the way to the woman's destination, a residence in Sterling. Once stopped, the woman said the driver got into the backseat of the vehicle and sexually assaulted the woman.

The 44-year-old driver is now facing charges of aggravated sexual battery and forcible sodomy. He was held at a local detention center without bond.

Teen facing felony charges after violent 'hoax' in Virginia

Social media has become a main part of teenagers' lives, especially with the popularity of photo-share apps like Snapchat. However, when a teen uses these apps to make threats or encourage violence towards others, they may face criminal charges. A Virginia teen recently was taken into custody for a hoax involving school violence at a Virginia high school.

A number of minors were sharing a Snapchat story about a possible armed attack at a high school. The photo showed a number of hunting rifles and a quiver of hunting arrows, with a caption warning students at "MHS" not to go to school the next day. A minor's mother contacted police when her son showed her the post. Schools across the country with the initials "MHS" became concerned and took precautions.

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Law Offices of Christie A. Leary P.C.

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Fairfax, Virginia 22030

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