The Virginia Verdict Review

Comprehensive and Informative Commentary on State and Federal Legal Matters

Category Archives: Criminal

10 Rules for Dealing with the Police

As a criminal defense attorney, I routinely encounter people who could have avoided legal trouble if they had simply known how to exercise their rights when talking to the police.  Every time I see this,  I lament the fact that so few Americans have a real, working knowledge of their rights.  It seems to me that whether the topic is traffic stops or full-scale police searches, most people have little or  no knowledge of their rights and how to exercise them in daily life.

In an effort to help people become more informed about their rights, I’d like to share the following video, “10 Rules for Dealing with the Police.”  I originally came across this video series while perusing the internet, but,after watching it, I am convinced that it is a phenomenal resource for all citizens.  Personally,  I think all Virginians (and Americans, for that matter) should watch this video and take the time to properly  educate themselves about their rights and how to use them.

The video, provided by flexyourrights.org, can be viewed in its entirety by following this link to the FlexYourRights YouTube channel.

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Virginia Judge Sets New Precedent That Favors Expungement

As was reported in this week’s edition of the Virginia Lawyer’s Weekly, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Lorranie Nordlund found that a defendant who pleaded guilty to a reduced traffic charge could have the more serious criminal charge expunged.  This ruling sets a new precedent with respect to expungement by adopting a broader interpretation of  Virginia Code § 19.2-392.2, which governs such actions, than courts have been willing to do in the past.

According to the statue, an individual can have their criminal and/or police records expunged if they are acquitted of a crime, if a nolle prosequi it taken, or if the charge is “otherwise dismissed.”   Applying this statue to a case where the defendant was charged with reckless driving (a criminal misdemeanor) but plead guilty to an amended charge of  improper driving (a traffic offense), Judge Nordlund found that the reckless driving charge had been “otherwise dismissed” and was, therefore, able to be expunged.

While it may seem insignificant to some, Judge Nordlund’s decision could prove influential in that it opens the door for untold numbers of Virginians who have previously not sought expungement to now do so.  With this case, Judge Nordlund has laid the foundation for the same argument to be made in any case in which a defendant pleads guilty to a charge that is not a lesser included offense of what they were originally charged with.

As an example, consider a scenario in which a person is charged with reckless driving, but then takes advantage of a plea bargain and  pleads guilty to improper driving.  In this case, since improper driving is not a less included offense of reckless driving, the argument could be made that they are entitled to an expungement of their record.

If you or someone you know has a charge on their criminal record that they would like expunged, please feel free to contact Westlake Legal Group to discuss the various options available.