Garrett Law Group, PLC – Criminal Law Blog

by J.D. Garrett on April 25, 2012


How To Use Our Criminal Law Site

If you have a question about a criminal defense matter or a traffic infraction, it’s likely we have the answer right here in our criminal law blog. You can type the question in the search box to the right and then click submit…and every page on this site that focuses on your question will be presented.

And if you cannot find the answer to your question in our criminal law blog or on one of our website pages, and you or a family member is in trouble….pick up the phone and call us at (757) 422-4626, or contact us online.

We’ll answer your question….no pressure and no-hype, and completely free of charge.

And if you want us to help, we will.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in Criminal Law

Does law enforcement have the right to search my property?

When law enforcement personnel believe you may have drugs, weapons or some evidence of a crime on your property, more than likely they will want to conduct a search of your property (home, business, vehicle, etc.) You should understand that unless a recognized narrow exception applies, the police officer must have a search warrant to conduct this search unless you otherwise give them your consent to search. Failure on their part to adhere to the law may result in any evidence recovered being suppressed at trial.

What is a deferred finding?

A deferred finding occurs when the court makes a decision to not issue a judgment of guilt in a particular case. Deferred findings are generally entered pending some other requirements by the defendant. For example, completing community service, paying restitution or completing certain programs. Provided the defendant successfully completes these terms, the charge may be reduced to a lesser charge or dismissed altogether.

What is the difference between a conviction and an adjudication?

These terms essentially have the same meaning, but they apply to adult vs. juvenile defendants. When an adult is found guilty, the court enters a conviction for the crime; for a juvenile, if the evidence is found to be sufficient for guilty, they are adjudicated as a delinquent minor. Following the entry of a respective finding, the court will then proceed to a sentencing phase of the trial.

What do I do if I’m being investigated for an alleged crime?

The answer to this question is the same whether you are being questioned regarding a criminal act, actively investigated for a crime, or if you have been arrested and charged with a crime. Under no circumstances should you ever speak with the police regarding a criminal offense. Police officers will tell you, and many people believe, they are trying to explain their actions and clarifying the facts. However, these statement will be twisted in such a way to be used against you during your trial.

Why should I hire a criminal defense lawyer?

A strong attorney will have in-depth knowledge of how the criminal justice system works, including laws that are relevant to your case, methods for possibly getting evidence barred from court, grounds for getting charges dropped or reduced, diversion programs that you might be eligible for and much more. The right lawyer can help you look for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that can greatly strengthen your defense strategy. You could miss out on important opportunities for protecting your freedom by failing to consult with a criminal defense attorney for your criminal case.

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Internet_Sex_CrimesUsing the internet to communicate with other people may seem like harmless fun. However, when a person uses the internet to communicate in a sexual manner with a child, he or she may face criminal charges or, if he or she meets that child, charges for sexual assault. Virginia law prohibits adults from using computers to communicate with children in order to coax them into certain sexual acts. A Navy pilot stationed in Virginia Beach found this out the hard way this week when he was arrested on such charges.

Daniel Chase Harris is accused of communicating with a 13-year-old girl from Bedford County over the internet. At some point, Harris allegedly threatened the young girl in order to get her to send him pictures of herself that were sexual in nature. Harris is alleged to have been in an online relationship with the 13-year-old girl before he coerced her into sending him the sexually explicit photographs.

According to reports, Harris was investigated by the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia Beach Police Department, as well as the Navy’s criminal investigation services unit and members of the group known as the Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.  The units were able to obtain a search warrant and searched Harris’ home. At the home, authorities were able to seize enough evidence to arrest Harris and take him into police custody.

Harris’ fate is still pending. He is currently being held without bond and will be transferred from Virginia Beach to the Bedford Adult Detention Center. Before Harris found himself facing multiple counts of using an electronic device to facilitate offenses against children and extortion charges, he had a bright future ahead of him as an active-duty pilot.

Virginia Internet Sex Crimes Law

Virginia criminal laws outlaw a host of activity related to the internet. One such crimes relating to communicating with minors by using the internet is the use of communications systems to facilitate certain offenses involving children, which is a form of solicitation. Under Code of Virginia 18.2-374.3, a person who is 18-years-old or older is guilty of committing the crime when he or she knowingly and intentionally uses a communications system, like the internet, to solicit a child to expose his or her genitals or to propose as much; propose that the child fondle his or her genitals, or that he or she fondle the child’s genitals; propose having sex with the child; or invite or entice the child to enter a vehicle, house, room, or other place for any of the purposes listed. Use of communications systems to facilitate certain offense involving children is a Class 5 felony. However, in the case that the offender is seven or more years older than the child, and has reason to believe that child is under 15-years-old, the offender must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of between 5 and 30 years.

When an adult seeks out a young child over the internet and solicits sexual activities or pictures, he or she may face serious felony charges under Virginia criminal laws. If you have been charged with violating Virginia criminal laws, you should immediately speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact a defense attorney at Garrett Law Group, PLC, today for a confidential consultation.


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