Moving with the tech times, the Virginia State Police recently announced the launching of a new smart phone app—one that will allow citizens to report crime tips directly from their phone. Called “See Something. Send Something,” the police are hoping the app will turn neighbor against neighbor and leave them looking like the good guys. [Read more…]
Elderly Woman Killed By Police Looking for Potential Burglar
What do you do when you believe someone is trying to break into your house? Call the police. And that’s exactly what 83-year old Delma Towler did when she suspected a burglary at her Altavista home late one night a few weeks ago. What happened when the officer responded was a tragic and disturbing incident that is still not fully explained. [Read more…]
Virginia Cops and Social Media
When you “spin” a news story, you tweak it to have a subjective point of view—to have a muted and often undetectable bias. Mainstream media does it all the time, despite high-quality journalism supposedly being objective and unbiased. But now cops are getting in on the action. At a recent conference in Richmond, police agencies from around the country sent representatives to learn how best to use media to their advantage.
The event was hosted by the Richmond Police Department and was a three-day conference. According to the Times-Dispatch, the cops were there to learn the “tricks” of the trade and “how to put their own spin on the news they create.” (Notice, they aren’t there to learn how to relay facts or report the news, but to create and manipulate the news.) [Read more…]
Charlottesville man in Police Chase
While few police stops are quite that exciting or dramatic, a recent attempted police stop resulted in a police chase in Augusta County, by vehicle and on foot, resulting in an overturned vehicle and minor injuries for the defendant, and a trip to the Middle River jail.
The news report at NewsLeader.com doesn’t say why the police were originally attempting to pull over Trevis H. Johnson, 28, of Charlottesville, but he was later charged with reckless driving, drug possession, and eluding police.
Typical police stops for reckless driving, the likely cause for the original police attention to the defendant, result in a criminal citation for a Class 1 misdemeanor. This charge is a serious offense, but there are often opportunities to challenge a criminal reckless charge in VA courts.
When is a Reckless Driving Charge Not Just A Reckless Driving Charge?
Reckless driving is a surprisingly standard and common offense in Virginia. Even though it is a criminal charge – a Class 1 Misdemeanor, the same as a DUI – it is very easy for the average person to get arrested and charged with reckless driving.
Increased Patrols on Virginia Highways Through Holiday Weekend
Virginia State police have announced increased police patrols and presence on the highways from now until the end of the holiday weekend.
Virginia Beach Cop Charged with DUI, Hit & Run
Civilians aren’t the only ones making reckless decisions over the holidays. A Virginia Beach police officer has been charged with DUI and hit and run after an incident on December 26th.
Officer Stephane Prevot was arrested after hitting a neighbor’s mailbox that evening and was found to be under the influence of alcohol and presumably over the .08% legal limit. The department isn’t saying much at the time of this report, however.
Per regulation, Prevot has been placed on administrative leave pending further decisions. Officer Prevot has been with the department for nearly 5 years, according to the Virginian Pilot.
This is the second Va. Beach officer to face such charges this year. Officer Bryan Womble was charged with hit and run and DUI back in June. In typical fashion, he was sentenced to a short jail stint, license suspension, drug and alcohol awareness classes, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in his vehicle.
Offenses like DUI and Hit and Run apply to everyone. While it may seem like people in power get an easier shake when it comes to the law, many high ranking people charged with crimes like this end up serving a similar sentence as you or I would.
When it comes to a first offense DUI, Virginia law states you can be sentenced to a maximum of 1 year in jail and $2500 in fines. In addition, you face a driver’s license suspension lasting a year and mandatory alcohol safety classes. Depending on the circumstance of your case and your blood alcohol level, you may also be required to use an ignition interlock device when you license is reinstated.
As your DUI convictions add up, so do the penalties. Sentences get progressively worse if you have a criminal history. Knowing what type of penalty you face for your charges can be sobering but also allows you to focus on your case.
If you are facing DUI charges in Virginia, you need the assistance of an experienced local DUI attorney. As your attorney, we can challenge the reason you were stopped, challenge how the police handled your arrest, and even potentially challenge the breath test results.
Contact me today to discuss how we can move forward with your case. You need someone acting in your defense when you go before the judge.
Virginia DUI Case Causes Stir in U.S. Supreme Court
As reported by the L.A. Times, The U.S. Supreme Court allowed to let a Virginia Supreme Court ruling stand that calls into question the legality of DUI stops based only on a phoned in tip from an eyewitness.
The case arose when police received a tip of a possibly drunk driver behind the wheel of an Altima. The caller gave police a partial license plate number and description. Based on the tip, not any other factors, Joseph Harris of Richmond was pulled over and arrested for DUI.
The Virginia Supreme Court ruled the stop was an unreasonable search because the officer did not witness any signs that Harris had been drinking. In other words, they ruled that the phoned in tip did not constitute probable cause.
In a 7 to 2 vote this week, the United States Supreme Court denied the to give cert, which in a sense, backed the Virginia Court’s decision and agreed that a phoned in tip is not sufficient for a DUI stop.
As this report from The New American details, U.S. Justice John Roberts was outraged with the ruling and said it essentially gives drivers “one free swerve” before they can be questioned by police.
Roberts was one of the 2 votes to wanted to take on the case and make a ruling that would apply to all states. Currently, Virginia is among only 4 states that don’t allow vehicle stops based on anonymous reports.
If the Court were to hear, and eventually overturn the lower court’s ruling, it would have opened the door for many other searches based solely on a witness’s tip. The Court cited a similar case in which it was ruled a citizen could not be frisked only based on an anonymous call as precedence.
There are many rules, laws, and court rulings that govern how a search and arrest can occur. When the police fail to follow these rules and procedures set up through prior court rulings and state law, they run the risk of violating a citizen’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, as detailed in the 4th Amendment.
When you are facing criminal charges, you want a defense attorney to look closely at the steps the police followed during the arrest and investigation stages of your case. There are many instances where criminal charges are dropped because the police didn’t follow proper protocol.
If you are up against criminal charges in the Virginia courts and want to ensure every rock is unturned in the defense of your case, contact me today. I am interested in the details of your case and I am interested in working with you.