We all make mistakes. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is often overly punitive. If you don't have access to quality legal representation, one lapse in judgment can have lasting consequences.
James E. Short, PLC provides experienced and aggressive representation for Virginia residents accused of a wide range of misdemeanor and felony crimes. Some of the cases we handle include:
Understanding the Potential Consequences of Criminal Record
Aside from the obvious fines and jail time, a criminal conviction can affect almost every aspect of your life. The impact of a criminal record will vary depending upon the severity of the charge, but could include:
- Being fired from your job
- Losing your occupational license
- Being ineligible for future employment opportunities
- Having your housing options limited
- Being denied child custody or visitation
- Being discharged from the military or prevented from enlisting
- Losing your right to own a gun
- Losing the right to vote
- Losing your passport
- Being unable to receive certain types of federal student loans to further your education
- Becoming ineligible for certain types of government benefits, including food stamps
There is also an intense social stigma associated with having a criminal record. Since criminal records are public, your information can be accessed by anyone seeking to damage your reputation. Regardless of what else you've accomplished, you risk being judged by one unfortunate mistake.
Although a criminal record can present problems at any age, it can be an especially challenging obstacle for a young adult. College students, including those attending Old Dominion University, Norfolk State, and Virginia Wesleyan University, need to be aggressive in working to limit the negative effects of a criminal record on their future opportunities.
An Expungement Is Seldom an Option
Expungement is a legal process that erases criminal records from public view, but this is difficult to do under Virginia law. Virginia automatically expunges juvenile records once an individual turns 19 and 5 years have passed since their last juvenile hearing. For adults, however, convictions are not eligible for expungement unless they are the result of identity theft. Only "not guilty" or "nolle prosequi" dispositions and dismissals are potentially eligible for expungement.
Every Charge Must Be Taken Seriously
Even if you think it's a simple misunderstanding and you've never been in trouble before, every criminal charge needs to be taken seriously. As a former criminal prosecutor, I've seen firsthand how the Commonwealth builds a case against an accused person. The prosecution isn't interested in hearing your side of the story. High conviction rates are seen as an indication of favorable job performance, so you're just another statistic.
If you've been charged with a crime, you need an attorney who will:
- Assess the case and evaluate the strength of the evidence against you
- Explain the potential penalties you're facing in plain English
- Develop a strong defense strategy
- Help you determine the best possible outcome and the steps necessary to achieve this result
- Save you money by ensuring your case isn't unnecessarily delayed
- Reduce stress by advocating for your interests throughout the process
- Negotiate a reduced sentence if an acquittal isn't possible
- Help choose a fair and impartial jury if your case goes to trial
To increase your odds of a favorable outcome, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible. It takes time to build an effective criminal defense, so you want to give your attorney ample opportunity to prepare.
Get Legal Advice You Can Trust
It's normal to be upset and anxious about what the future may hold, but you don't have to go through this process alone. I practice in all local state courts and handle criminal cases in federal court. Regardless of the charges you're facing, my goal is to provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your future so you can work towards the best possible outcome for your criminal case.
James E. Short, PLC serves clients from Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and the surrounding areas. If you're facing criminal charges in Virginia, please contact us today to request a consultation to discuss your defense options and how my legal expertise can benefit your case.