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Louisa, Virginia Criminal Defense & Traffic Law Blog

Unpacking the crime of sexual battery in Virginia

Most sexual acts between two adults are consensual. However, there are instances in which a sexual act occurs that a person does not consent to. These acts are illegal, and a person who commits them could be charged with sexual battery or aggravated sexual battery.

Sexual battery is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. An attack constitutes sexual battery if: the sexual abuse took place against a person's will by force, threat, intimidation or trick; the accused sexually abused more than one person within a two-year time span or sexually abused a person more than once without that person's consent; or when a person is an inmate, probationer, parolee or pretrial defendant and the accused holds a position of authority over the person.

The hidden consequences of accepting plea deals

Every day, the news floods us with examples of people pleading guilty to crimes, but if they could potentially win a not guilty verdict in trial, why would they plead guilty? This is because the United States criminal justice system works in such a way that prosecutors make plea bargains seem like attractive options.

According to The Atlantic, more than 90% of all felony convictions are brokered as plea bargains, but these deals aren’t all about justice. They’re largely used to speed up the system and spare courts the expense of a trial. Offering a lesser charge with an easy sentence to avoid a more serious sentence, possibly even a life sentence, is the kind of deal prosecutors make all the time and it comes loaded with consequences.

Can you get a DUI if your BAC is below the legal limit?

Spring is here and many people in Virginia are looking forward to being able to spend time outdoors, especially once summer rolls around. Many people will have a drink or two at a barbecue, a wedding or a holiday celebration. These people may feel safe to drive, especially if they believe that their blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is below the legal limit. However, even if a person's BAC is below the legal limit, it may still be possible for a person to be charged with driving under the influence.

Most Virginians understand that if they are driving and are pulled over by police and a breath test shows that their BAC is 0.08% or higher, they can be charged with DUI. This is known as DUI per se, and it generally means that no further evidence is needed to prosecute the driver. However, even if a motorist's BAC is below 0.08%, he or she may still be charged with DUI if the officer believes that the motorist is driving under the influence of alcohol in a manner that poses a danger to the driver or other motorists on the road.

Bill makes cellphone use in work zones a traffic offense

It is truly amazing how far cellphone technology has come. We can now use our cellphones to make phone calls, send text messages and emails, use navigation apps, take photos, play music and more. Of course, using a cellphone while driving can be distracting and can lead to reckless driving and motor vehicle accidents. Therefore, to a certain extent, cellphone use while driving can be considered a traffic offense.

For example, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is expected to approve a bill that prohibits the use of handheld cellphones in work zones. Those who violate the new law will be fined $250. The bill will become effective on July 1. Previously, the law only banned texting and driving.

Alcohol a factor in 31 percent of traffic deaths in Virginia

Drinking alcohol is normal for many adults in Virginia, and generally causes no harm. However, police will always be on the lookout for those they believe are driving under the influence, especially when an accident occurs.

According to data from the County Health Rankings, alcohol was a factor in 31 percent of traffic fatalities in Virginia over a four-year stretch of time. This is greater than the national average, which sits at 29 percent. Some counties fared better than others. For example, Chesterfield County saw a greater number of drunk driving fatalities. In that county, there were 48 traffic fatalities involving drunk drivers, which is greater than the commonwealth average and greater than the national average. Norfolk and Virginia Beach also saw a greater than average number of drunk driving fatalities.

Virginia man charged with murder in shooting incident

There are many circumstances that could lead to a person's death. Sometimes a person dies in an accident, after an illness or simply due to old age. Other times, however, interactions between two individuals can go south and in extreme circumstances one person is accused of killing another. When this happens, a person in Virginia could be accused of committing the violent crime of first-degree murder.

A Virginia man is facing charges of murder in the first degree following a shooting that occurred on March 6. Two men were apparently involved in the incident. Both men were found by police suffering from gunshot wounds.

Is it prudent to refuse to take a DUI breath test?

Being pulled over by the police in Virginia can make anyone nervous, but these nerves can be amplified if the motorist is asked to perform a field sobriety test or a breath test to determine if they are driving under the influence. A DUI conviction could have significant short-term and long-term effects, and a motorist may be inclined to not submit to a breath test. They may feel it is unnecessary as they are not intoxicated, or they may be afraid of what the results will be. However, they should understand that there are consequences for refusing to take a DUI breath test.

Virginia, like other states in the nation, has "implied consent" laws. This means that in exchange for the privilege of driving, motorists agree to submit to a breath test to determine their blood alcohol content. If a motorist unreasonably refuses to do so, they will face consequences.

Speed cameras might soon be seen in Virginia work zones

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety over 130 communities across the nation have implemented speed camera initiatives and 422 communities across the nation utilize red-light cameras to enforce traffic laws and reduce reckless driving. Virginia has traditionally been slow to implement such technologies, but that may soon change if a certain piece of legislation is signed into law.

Speed cameras could soon be seen on highway work zones in Virginia, due to legislation recently passed by Virginia lawmakers. The bill, which is pending the approval of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, would permit officers to utilize speed cameras in highway work zones. However, to do so, the blue lights on the police cars must be activated and there must be signs placed at least 1,000 feet in front of the work zone indicating that speed cameras are present.

Traffic offenses should not be taken lightly

It is certainly inconvenient to be pulled over by police for a traffic infraction, but it may not seem like a big deal. Many people in Virginia may assume that if they commit a traffic offense, they will simply pay a fine and be on their way. However, traffic violations can result in long-term issues that affect a person well after the incident occurs.

This is especially true if the offense results in the suspension or revocation of your driver's license or if it means you must spend time in jail. These consequences could cost a person their job if they must miss work or are without transportation. In addition, traffic offenses can raise one's car insurance rates, adding a financial burden to an already expensive situation.

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