When you are facing serious charges and have a lot at stake, you can never ask too many questions. Darwyn is always happy to address any concerns you may have. The following are some of the questions he is asked most:
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What counts as drag racing in Virginia and what charges will I face if I get arrested for racing?
In Virginia, racing is covered by VA Code Section 46.2-865: Any person who engages in a race between two or more motor vehicles on the highways in the Commonwealth or on any driveway or premises of a church, school, recreational facility, or business property open to the public in the Commonwealth shall be guilty of reckless driving, unless authorized by the owner of the property or his agent.
The Penalties in Virginia for Misdemeanor Racing
In Virginia, “drag racing” or “racing” is considered a class one misdemeanor reckless driving charge. The law states: When any person is convicted of reckless driving under this section, in addition to any other penalties provided by law, the driver’s license of such person shall be suspended by the court for a period of not less than six months nor more than two years.
In addition, you could be sentenced to jail time, have to pay court fees and will receive six demerit points which will remain on your record for 11 years.
When Drag Racing Is a Felony
The above outlines the penalties associated with a misdemeanor charge. However, there are times with racing charges are considered a felony. If anyone is hurt or killed during the course of the drag race, Class 6 felony charges may be applied. If convicted, the driver could be sent to prison for one to five years, though the sentence could be less if the judge or jury decides the sentence should be lighter.
If someone is killed during an accident where drag racing was a factor, the sentence is between one to 20 years; with a one year mandatory minimum jail time.
A felony conviction for drag racing in Virginia also means a mandatory driver’s license suspension of between one and three years. On top of this, the car used for the race can be taken by police and sold.
What You Should Do If You’ve Been Accused of Drag Racing in Virginia
It is important to note that in Virginia, drag racing is defined as having a pre-defined start point and pre-defined end point. So technically, two cars speeding next to one another, whether it’s a test of speed or not, is not considered drag racing in Virginia. These cases often rely on witness testimony, as the arresting officer usually won’t have heard the drivers having a discussion before they took off. Because of this it’s very important that you hire a lawyer who’s experienced in reckless driving cases. Call 888-386-3898 right now.
Who sets the amount of my bail when I’m accused of a crime? How can an attorney help make sure it’s fair?
When you are accused of a crime, part of your arraignment will usually entail a discussion and setting of your bail. Bail is the amount of money that needs to be paid as a retainer to get you out of jail until your trial. The assumption is that if you or a loved one pays the bail amount, you’ll honor your trial date and appear in court in order to get that money back. However, depending on the crime you’re charge with, your bail could be set for anywhere between $100 to an excess of $1 million.
So how does bail work? Who sets it and why does the severity of the crime affect the amount?
Setting Bail and Paying the Price for Limited Freedom
The U.S. Constitution limits setting excessive bail as a way to prohibit cruel and unusual punishment. However, depending on how severe the judge deems the charges (as well as your criminal past), he can set an extremely high bail in order to keep you from being able to afford to miss your trial.
This is how it works...
- A judge will listen to arguments from you (if you choose to represent yourself) or your lawyer and the prosecutor to determine your past criminal history as well as how likely you are to attempt to flee to avoid your trial.
- Once the judge weighs your arguments against the severity of the crime you’re charged with, he’ll determine and set a reasonable amount for bail.
- If you are able to pay that amount, you’ll be allowed to leave until the time of your trial.
- When you do show up for your trial, the full amount you paid will be returned.
- If you don’t show up, that money will be forfeited, a warrant will be issued for your arrest, and you’ll most likely be fined and charged for jumping bail.
- If you’re unable to pay the bail amount, you’ll either be forced to stay in jail until your trial, or seek the help of a bail bondsman.
- If you choose to use a bail bondsman, he’ll pay the entirety of your bail, but charge you at least 10% of the bail amount up front. For example, if your bail is set at $50,000, he would require a non-refundable payment of $5,000.
- If you keep your trial date after using a bondsman, he will get back the money he paid, however, you won’t get anything except the time you had between your arraignment and trial.
- If you don’t keep your trial date, in addition to a warrant for your arrest and additional fines and charges, the bondsman may attempt to track you down and bring you back in order for him to get his money from the court.
Unfortunately, many people are unable to pay their bails (or in some cases even the 10% for a bondsman) and either remain in jail or just plead guilty as they believe it is the only course of action.
There’s Another Way
Thankfully, Darwyn Easley can help make sure the judge doesn’t set your bail excessively high and he can also help you plead down the amount if you’re unable to pay. Make sure you’re not forced to sit in jail or waste money on a bail bondsman when you don’t have to. Fill out our contact form, or call us directly at 703-865-6610 to set up an appointment and see how we can help secure your pre-trial freedom.
What are some reasonable causes for a drunk driving traffic stop?
Have you ever been pulled over for no apparent reason? Have you ever seen those familiar flashing lights in your mirror, but have no idea what you did? Have you been forced to take a sobriety test when you were not under the influence?
Although police need probable cause to make a traffic stop, it seems that the need to hammer down on drunk driving has begun to supersede your Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. However, just because police are determined to catch drunk drivers, does not mean they have the legal right to pull you over when you’ve done nothing to indicate that you are too drunk to drive.
Reasons for a Cop to Pull You Over for DUI Suspicion
Unless an officer sees you stumbling out of a bar and driving off in your car, he must base his suspicion of drunk driving on your control of the car. Some common lazy or distracted driving habits may look to a cop like drunk driving and may lead him to pull you over. These causes can include the following:
- Wide turns. The officer witnessed you turning with an unusually large amount of space between your wheels and the curb.
- Weaving. The officer witnessed you driving erratically or constantly swerving in and out of lanes.
- Sloppy driving. The officer witnessed you breaking traffic laws, following too closely, or making abrupt stops.
- Inconsistent speed. The officer witnessed you continuously speeding up and slowing down for no reason.
- Collisions. The officer witnessed you hit, scrape, or damage property.
Although there are a lot of reasons the police could pull you over, they must always have a reason. If for some reason they do not, or can’t produce a viable explanation for the stop, they may have violated your Fourth Amendment rights.
If you think your rights have been violated, contact us today at 703-865-6610 to set up an appointment. Remember, even if you fail a sobriety test, if the test was given illegally, you may have an out. Allow us to help you get it. Call now!
How can I drink the same amount as a friend but have a higher BAC?
The amount of alcohol in your blood at any given time depends on how quickly you metabolize it, as well as the ratio of alcohol to your weight. Men can usually metabolize alcohol faster than women, while heavier people tend to need to drink more to raise their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) than thinner drinkers. This is why it is important to understand how alcohol affects you personally, as well as how much alcohol you can consume based on your weight, before your BAC goes above the legal limit. Otherwise, you may unwittingly set yourself up for a DUI charge.
The Office of Alcohol and Drug Education at the University of Notre Dame provides a BAC estimate calculator to help you determine the maximum number of drinks you can have for your weight and gender. However, this BAC estimate should not be used as a green light to drive after drinking. Impairment can result from any amount of alcohol and you need to judge whether you’re sober enough to get behind the wheel safely. The calculator should only be used to approximate the amount of alcohol your body can absorb over a specific timeframe.
Know Your Own Limit
To demonstrate how body weight, gender and time influence BAC, the state of Connecticut compiled data into a reference chart showing the relationship among these three factors. While this chart can’t be 100% accurate for every person, it does show how BAC can vary even if two people drank the exact same amount over the exact same time period. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds and your friend weighs 130 pounds, you could be over the legal limit to drive after drinking two drinks over two hours and he may not be. Even if you feel and act less drunk than him, you could get a DUI if you drive and you may not be able to challenge the results with any hope of success or certainty.
When you decide to drink, make sure you give your body the necessary time to not only feel sober, but for your blood to absorb and metabolize the amount of alcohol you have consumed.
Do you have more questions about BAC levels, sobriety tests, or defending against a drunk driving charge? Fill out our contact form, or call us directly at 703-865-6610 to set up an appointment.
What’s the difference between a DUI and a DWI and how do the laws differ in Virginia, DC, and Maryland?
You may hear the acronyms DUI and DWI used interchangeably and in Virginia and DC, they do mean the same thing. But in Maryland, they refer to different levels of impairment and the distinction could be important.
Location Matters When it Comes to Drinking and Driving Violations
In both Virginia and DC, the official charge for having more than the legal limit of alcohol or another substance in your system is a DUI, or Driving Under the Influence. People may use the term DWI to mean the same thing, but it is not an official charge in these jurisdictions. In Maryland, however, DWI stands for Driving While Impaired, and refers to lower levels of alcohol in the bloodstream than a DUI.
The following table outlines the differences in charges between Virginia, Maryland, and DC.
BAC - 0.08 or above
Chemical blood testing shows:
-0.02 mg(+) of Cocaine per blood liter
-0.1 mg(+) of Methamphetamine per blood liter
-0.01(+) milligrams of Phencyclidine (PCP) per blood liter
-0.1(+) milligrams of Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy), per blood liter
- N/A -
BAC - 0.08 or above
Probable cause or suspicion of drug use (drug paraphernalia, chemical test results, etc.)
BAC between 0.04 and 0.08 (0.02 if under 21 years old)
BAC - 0.08 or above (drivers over 21)
BAC - 0.01 or any measurable BAC for drivers under 21 - Zero Tolerance Law
Probable cause or suspicion of drug use (drug paraphernalia, chemical test results, etc.)
- N/A -
No matter what state you’re in—impaired, drunk, sober, Virginia, or Maryland—when you’re accused of a DUI or DWI you need a dependable and experienced defense attorney. Without one, you could wind up suffering more than just a headache. Fill out our contact form, or call us directly at 703-865-6610 to set up an appointment and see how we can help you improve your defense and avoid nasty penalties.
Why am I at risk of penalties if I leave the scene of an accident after a crash?
If you are involved in a car accident, you may face penalties if you leave the scene without first exchanging important information with the other parties involved in the crash or waiting for law enforcement to arrive. There are important reasons behind this rule that every driver should be familiar with. It is important to note, however, that if you are charged, possible defenses to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident may apply. Consulting with an experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and responsibilities in these cases.
3 Reasons You Are Required to Remain at the Scene of an Accident
Why are drivers generally required to remain at the accident scene after a crash? The following is an overview:
- To offer help to drivers, passengers, or nearby pedestrians who may be suffering from an injury as a result of the accident.
- To provide an opportunity for the parties involved in the accident to exchange relevant identification and insurance information. This may include your name, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, insurance carrier, and policy number.
- To prevent a party from avoiding criminal or civil liability that might arise from the accident by fleeing the scene. For example, a party in the crash who was driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not permitted to simply leave the scene in order to avoid detection.
If you are charged with fleeing the scene of an accident, all hope is not lost. We encourage you to contact us today for help at 888-386-3898.
When I’m accused of a crime, what should I expect to happen?
The criminal process in Virginia should be predictable and consistent. Police and prosecutors are required to follow certain protocols in order to maintain a suspect’s rights and prevent guilty parties from being released on technicalities.
For your own protection, it is extremely important to understand what police and prosecutors can’t do as well as what they should do. If anyone involved in your case fails to follow the proper protocols, you could have grounds for a dismissal, whether you are guilty or not.
From Accusation to Conviction: Virginia Circuit Court Proceedings
The common procedure for criminal cases when it comes to charging, processing, and convicting a suspect of a felony in a Virginia court is as follows:
- If you’re accused of a crime, you’ll be arrested on a warrant and brought before a magistrate. At this point, it is a good idea to contact an experienced defense lawyer to make sure your rights are being upheld.
- The magistrate will then decide whether to place you in jail pending a hearing or release you on bail.
- A preliminary hearing will then be held in district court to determine if there is probable cause that you committed the crime.
- If probable cause is found, the case is sent to the grand jury.
- If the grand jury agrees that there is probable cause, they will issue a formal charge against you, called an indictment.
- The complete charges will then be read to you to make sure you understand exactly what you are being accused of. Your lawyer can also help break down the charges and provide you with legal options to go forward.
- You’ll then have the opportunity to state your plea of guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere (no contest).
- Once you have entered your plea, the prosecution has the opportunity to present you with plea-bargain options. You may have the chance to “make a deal” with the prosecution to settle out of court or bargain for a reduced sentence for pleading guilty.
- If you and your defense attorney cannot agree on a plea bargain, you will then proceed to make your defense in a trial.
Get the Help You Need to Improve Your Outcome
Although the process is fairly rigid, the criminal process can be cut short with the proper defense tactics. Contact us today to see how we can help you change the outcome of your arrest. Simply fill out our contact form, or call us directly at 703-865-6610 to set up an appointment. Remember, it’s your story. How do you want this chapter to end? Call now!
How many innocent people are wrongly convicted each year?
Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure how many innocent people are behind bars at any given time. Many guilty people vehemently proclaim their innocence while those falsely convicted are too scared or powerless to speak up. However, a relatively new joint project between the law schools at the University of Michigan and Northwestern Universty is making progress in gathering and publishing information about exonerations of wrongly-convicted individuals from the last 25 years. Using this data, they draw come conclusions about why people are falsely convicted in the first place.
Common Causes of Unjustified Convictions
Looking at data from 1,600 exonerations since 1989, the National Registry of Exonerations finds that most convictions are overturned for one or more of a small number of reasons. It logically follows that these factors are also probably the most common errors made during criminal trials:
- Perjury or False Accusation. A person falsely accuses the defendant of committing the crime either in sworn testimony or otherwise.
- Official Misconduct. Police or prosecutors significantly abuse their authority or the judicial process in a manner that contributes to a conviction.
- Mistaken Witness Identification. At least one witness mistakenly identifies the defendant as a person he or she saw commit the crime.
- False or Misleading Forensic Evidence. The conviction is based at least in part on forensic information that was caused by errors in forensic testing, based on unreliable or unproven methods, or fraudulent.
- False Confessions. The defendant makes a false statement to authorities which was treated as a confession; the authorities claim that the defendant made such a statement but the defendant denies it; or the defendant makes a statement that is not an admission of guilt, but is misinterpreted as such by the authorities.
Regrettably, other factors can also lead to a false conviction depending on the circumstances of your individual case. This is why it is important to build a strong defense, and have someone supporting you throughout the case. Contact us today and see how we can help you avoid a wrongful conviction. Trust us—even if you’re charged with a minor offense, you don’t want to deal with the consequences of a conviction. Contact us now. You’ll be glad you did!
If the zipper merge works so well, why does it make so many drivers angry?
Merging is a constant frustration for drivers. It doesn’t matter if you’re just learning how to drive, or if you’ve been driving for 30 years, successfully merging into a lane of traffic doesn’t just depend on skill—it often depends on the mood of other drivers. Although some drivers will merge without the slightest concern for others, proper merging is a delicate balance of timing, consideration, and the ability to gauge other drivers’ moods.
Since merging onto busy highways or through construction zones is a major cause of traffic congestion, the Department of Transportation suggests that late merging, also known as zipper merging, could actually help decrease bottlenecks and improve the flow of traffic when merges are required. Unfortunately, the zipper merge is controversial and can actually cause more harm than good.
Risks of the Zipper Merge
Although the zipper merge makes sense in theory—motorists utilize both lanes until the on-ramp or lane ends, where they then take turns—in practice, taking turns isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. If you’ve been inching along in the open lane for a long time and the car next to you stayed in the closing lane to bypass traffic, why should you let him in? This resentment often results in a complete lack of cooperation at the merge point, causing further back-ups and the potential for collisions. Increased understanding of the benefits of the zipper merge and further cooperation among drivers could go a long way towards easing the frustrating, time-consuming, and energy-wasting effects of major traffic back-ups.
For more information on zipper merging, traffic accidents, and driving rights and responsibilities, feel free to browse our site for more articles, or contact us directly for a free consultation. We’re here to answer your questions and help you make sense of the law. Call now!
What types of tests should I expect if I’m pulled over for suspected drunk driving?
Although it may be easy to catch an intoxicated driver once he or she has caused an accident, the hope is to be able to stop impaired drivers before they hurt themselves and others. This is why police are trained to recognize signs of potential driver intoxication. If an officer believes your driving could indicate that you’ve had one too many drinks, he can pull you over and administer several tests to judge whether or not you are legally intoxicated.
Field Sobriety Tests to Be Aware of
Although police officers have the right to administer field sobriety tests if you showed signs of impairment while driving, they don’t have the right to pull you over without just cause. If you were obeying traffic laws and driving safely, you should not be pulled over.
In addition, although they have the right to ask you to take certain sobriety tests, they cannot force you. Most sobriety tests are voluntary, although refusing to participate could be used against you as evidence of guilt. This is why it is important to not only know what types of tests to expect, but also your rights when it comes to testing. Common field sobriety tests include:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus (eye movement) test
- Rhomberg balance test
- Walk and turn
- Standing on one leg
- Finger to nose
None of these tests can irrefutably prove alcohol or drug impairment and failure of any one of them could have an explanation that does not involve driver impairment. If you are being charged with DUI based on one of these field sobriety tests, please call us directly at 703-865-6610. We’ll be happy to discuss all of your concerns and driving rights.