FAQs

WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN ARRESTED
If you can make a bond (money to secure your release), then you will be released from jail, but only if you have no other holds. (A hold is a detainer placed on you by another governmental agency which requires you be held pending clearance of the hold). If you cannot make a bond (or do not qualify for pretrial release), then you will remain in jail while your case is pending or until your attorney can present a bond motion to the Court.

IF YOU ARE FREE ON BOND
In many Courts if you have been able to make a bond, then you will be expected to hire an attorney to represent you. After your release, some jurisdictions will require you to attend an arraignment hearing. At the arraignment, the Judge will inform you of your right to have an attorney, the nature of your charge/s and the possible punishment you could receive if found guilty. The Judge will then set your case for a trial if you are charged with a misdemeanor or a preliminary hearing if you are charged with a felony.

WHAT IS A PRELIMINARY HEARING?
A preliminary hearing in Virginia is a hearing that is held in the General District Court when a person is accused of a felony. The preliminary hearing determines whether probable cause exists for bringing the defendant to trial. This hearing consists of witness testimony and presentation of evidence. The defendant has the opportunity to challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution through cross examination of the prosecution’s witnesses, and through the calling of their own witnesses and presentation of evidence.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF OFFENSES?
In Virginia, criminal offenses are prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors range from Class 4 misdemeanors up to the highest misdemeanor which is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Likewise, felonies range from Class 6 to Class 1 felonies. The possible ranges of punishment are as follows:
The punishments for conviction of a misdemeanor are:

  1. For Class 1 misdemeanors, confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.
  2. For Class 2 misdemeanors, confinement in jail for not more than six months and a fine of not more than $1,000, either or both.
  3. For Class 3 misdemeanors, a fine of not more than $500.
  4. For Class 4 misdemeanors, a fine of not more than $250.

The punishments for conviction of a felony are:

  1. For Class 1 felonies, death, if the person so convicted was 18 years of age or older at the time of the offense and is not determined to be mentally retarded pursuant to § 19.2-264.3:1.1, or imprisonment for life and, subject to subdivision (g), a fine of not more than $100,000. If the person was under 18 years of age at the time of the offense or is determined to be mentally retarded pursuant to § 19.2-264.3:1.1, the punishment shall be imprisonment for life and, subject to subdivision (g), a fine of not more than $100,000.
  2. For Class 2 felonies, imprisonment for life or for any term not less than 20 years and, subject to subdivision (g), a fine of not more than $100,000.
  3. For Class 3 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than 20 years and, subject to subdivision (g), a fine of not more than $100,000.
  4. For Class 4 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than two years nor more than 10 years and, subject to subdivision (g), a fine of not more than $100,000.
  5. For Class 5 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 10 years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.
  6. For Class 6 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I GO TO COURT?
On your court date, you should go directly to the court. Each court posts a docket which lists the name of each defendant who has a court hearing on that day and their assigned courtroom. You must be in court on the day and time instructed or the court may forfeit your bond and issue a warrant for your arrest. (Bond forfeiture means that you lose the money that you have posted as a guaranty to the court that you would appear on the setting date.)

HOW MUCH WILL MY LEGAL DEFENSE COST?
One of the first questions most clients have when facing criminal charges is how much their defense will cost. Of course, the answer depends on the circumstances of your case and the quality of the defense team. Usually, an attorney will be able to quote you a fee after an initial consultation.

IN A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE, CAN AN INJURED SPOUSE “DROP” THE CHARGES?
No. The prosecutor decides whether to drop the charge/s. In a domestic violence case, it is the Commonwealth of Virginia against the offending party and the State of Virginia through its prosecutors, decide how the charges will be dealt with. Of course, an experienced defense attorney can impact how a particular case will be handled.

DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY TO DEAL WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANIES?
If you have suffered injury through the fault of another, be it from a motor vehicle accident, medical malpractice or the wrongful death of a family member, you have a potential claim. If you have been in an automobile accident with little property damage and minor injuries, then retaining an attorney would not make financial sense. However, if you have serious injuries you should retain an attorney.
Insurance companies are a business and they will take advantage of you to save their company money. Insurance adjusters are professionals who review hundreds of accident claims a year and they will offer you less than what you deserve if you are not equipped to fight them in the legal arena. You need your own professional who will tell you your rights and ensure that you receive your claim’s full worth. If you have ever attempted to settle a claim on your own you know that it is a time consuming affair. No one enjoys being involved in an accident but by hiring an attorney you take some of the worry out of the process. You will have the security of knowing that your claim for injuries, medical bills, lost wages and inconvenience is being organized and fought for, allowing you to focus on what’s important to you.

WHAT WILL THIS COST ME?
The client pays nothing up front for a typical personal injury or medical malpractice case. There will be normal costs involved, such as postage and copying, as well as costs in obtaining police reports and medical records. These costs will be advanced by the firm and deducted once a verdict or settlement is obtained. Our fee is one-third of whatever is recovered for the client. We do not receive a fee unless the client receives a settlement or verdict. No settlement is agreed upon without the client’s informed consent.

WHAT DO I BRING TO THE INITIAL CONSULTATION?
Everything. Bring everything that pertains to the accident. Bring everything that pertains to your motor vehicle insurance and health insurance. Bring all medical records and bills that you have in your possession.

HOW WILL I PAY FOR MY MEDICAL TREATMENT?
If you do not have health insurance or medical payment insurance, we will notify your medical provider that you are involved in a claim and that the bills should be placed on hold until the conclusion of your claim. Ultimately, the goal is to have your medical bills paid through the verdict or settlement proceeds.

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF MY CLAIM?
That is the ultimate question that usually cannot be answered until all the facts have been uncovered. Each case is different and each has a different value. The worth of a claim becomes more apparent once it is determined the client is fully recovered or has suffered a permanent injury. These are all topics that are discussed in the initial consultation.

WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP?
Contact our office to schedule a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION. At that meeting we will advise as to whether you have a valid claim and whether it is a claim that deserves my services. We will explain the process that your case will have to go through and recommend how best to proceed. The attorneys will make sure that you understand the fees and costs that will be involved in your case.

DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY?
If you have ever attempted to settle a claim on your own you know that it is a time consuming affair. No one enjoys being involved in an accident but by hiring an attorney you take some of the worry out of the process. You will have the security of knowing that your claim for injuries, medical bills, lost wages and inconvenience is being organized and fought for, allowing you to focus on what’s important to you. If you would like to protect your rights and to receive the settlement you deserve, hire a personal injury attorney. An attorney shows that you have recourses if the insurance company does not put forth a good-faith, reasonable offer.
If you were involved in low impact motor vehicle accident with little or no damage and treated with a doctor only a few times, it would not be in your best interests to have an attorney since you would most likely receive a reasonable settlement offer, regardless if you had an attorney. Northern Virginia juries are very conservative in their verdicts and insurance companies rely upon that when coming up with the settlement figures. However, if you were involved in a serious accident and suffered major> injuries, the advice and negotiation skills of an attorney becomes worth the one-third contingent fee.

WHAT SHOULD I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF FROM THE INSURANCE COMPANIES?
Document the accident from the very beginning, get as much information as possible about the accident. Call the police to the scene to document the incident and to later serve as independent witnesses. Get the insurance information from the other driver, as well as all of his contact information. Verify that by looking at his or her drivers license. Take photographs of your vehicles damage and the accident scene. Write down how the accident happened so that you have a fresh recollection. Take down the names and contact information of any witnesses. Record what injuries you are feeling. Contact the Insurance Companies Next, contact your insurance company and let them know what’s going on. Then contact the other insurance company. More than likely, they are going to request a recorded statement from you and will tell you they cannot progress with the claim without it. Our recommendation is to never give a recorded statement unless you have an attorney present since an experienced adjuster can twist something you say. If they cannot move forward without a statement, agree to give one but don?t agree to it being recorded.
Visit a Doctor If you haven’t already, go see a doctor if you are in pain. The longer you wait to see a medical provider, the stronger the argument by the insurance company that the accident wasn’t that bad and that the accident was not the cause of your injuries. Try to go to your family physician or, if you don’t have one, a doctor recommended to you by a family member or friend. Beware of the attorneys that refer you to a chiropractor or a medical doctor. The problem with this is Virginia juries find a doctor’s testimony less credible if they are told that there is a referral relationship with the Plaintiff?s attorney. Make sure to give a thorough account of how the accident happened and the pains that you are feeling to your doctor. Most medical providers keep thorough records of all your visits, which assists the insurance company and your attorney. Do not hide anything from the doctor, including past or present injuries that you might have.
Medical and Wage Loss Authorizations Insurance companies will send you Medical and Wage Loss Authorizations. You do not have to sign them! These authorizations allow the insurance companies to look at all of your medical and employment documents, many of which you may want to keep private. Have an attorney review the authorizations and modify them to ask for only the documents pertinent to this accident. You can request the documents yourself and then send the relevant forms to the insurance company, as your attorney would do if you hire one.