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Fairfax Criminal Defense Blog

Is the walking field sobriety test accurate?

Virginia has clear laws on drunk driving and what may lead to a person being charged with an impaired driving offense. However, it is important for you to know that even with laws in place, there are still potential problems associated with the field sobriety tests often used as part of a drunk driving investigation and arrest.

According to FieldSobrietyTests.org, none of the three standardized roadside tests administered before a person may be arrested for impaired driving are fully accurate in all cases. One of these tests, the walk and turn test, has a stated accuracy rate of only 66 percent. Multiple things could contribute to this test not returning fully accurate results.

Do you qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

It's not inconceivable to think that at some point in your life, you may need a little bit of financial help. Social Security disability benefits, for example, can do a lot to help workers in Virginia like you who are at a disadvantage. But do you qualify for those benefits?

As stated by Social Security itself, you need to meet several qualifications before you're considered eligible for Social Security disability benefits. First of all, your condition will need to fit Social Security's specific criteria for a disability. This include:

  • Being unable to adjust to different types of work because of the disability
  • Being unable to continue your current line of work because of the disability
  • Having a disability that has lasted, or is expected to last, a year or more
  • Having a disability that is expected to result in death

Key factors of Social Security disability

When individuals suffer from a disability, whether temporarily or permanently, their survival may depend on receiving necessary financial assistance. Submitting a claim for Social Security disability may help their case for receiving such aid.

If you or a loved one seek Social Security disability benefits, it is important to understand what they entail. There are a few key factors to understand.

Virginia's age of consent

Many people in Virginia may not be aware of the laws in the state that govern when a person may legally agree to participate in sexual behavior. These laws are not always black-and-white insofar as there is not only age that applies in all cases. Instead, as Age of Consent explains, the age at which a person may consent to sexual activity depends in part on the age of the other person involved in the activity.

There are multiple offenses for sex crimes involving minors in Virginia. Some of these offenses are graded as misdemeanors and others are graded as felonies. As a general rule, a person in Virginia is not able to legally consent to sexual activity until they are a legal adult and have reached 18 years old. However, there are exceptions for people between 13 and 17 years old. This is because of a clause referred to as the Romeo and Juliet law or the close-in-age exemption.

What are the consequences for breaking curfew?

When you're under the age of 18 in Virginia, you'll have a few different sources of potential curfews to deal with. Unfortunately, breaking those curfews can result in some serious penalties, even if it might not seem like it's a big deal.

First of all, in some areas of the state there is a hard curfew for minors under 17. If you're this age or younger, you're legally disallowed from being outside between the hours of 11 P.M. and 5 A.M., barring extenuating circumstances like medical emergencies. The most well-known curfew is a state-wide one, however. It's defined by the Virginia Department of Motorized Vehicles as a curfew restriction for underage drivers.

Shoplifting in Virginia is risky business

In 1980, the State of Virginia increased the threshold for felony charges to $200. Despite inflation in the years since, government leaders have not yet conceded another raise is necessary. At the law firm of Ronald E. Smith, P.C., our experts understand the legal ramifications of Virginia's larceny and theft legislation. 

According to the U.S. News & World Report, shoplifting in Virginia can result in a higher penalty than in other states. In fact, if you steal merchandise worth $200.01, you may find yourself facing felony larceny charges in a Virginia courtroom. Although other legislatures, such as that of Texas and Wisconsin, have much higher criteria for tagging shoplifters with felonies, the Cavalier State maintains its position that taking more than $200 in goods is worthy of the label. 

What should you know about your drug charges?

When Virginia residents like you are up against drug-related charges, you're simultaneously facing a force that could tear your life apart and make the path to your future much cloudier. Ronald E. Smith, PC, can help by providing you with information you can use to navigate through this difficult period of time.

Here are the basics when it comes to drug charges. First, the term covers a very broad array of actions. If you are facing drug charges, you could be accused of any of the following:

  • Selling drugs
  • Possessing drugs
  • Intending to sell
  • Faking prescriptions or selling prescriptions
  • Having drug-related contraband
  • Trafficking drugs

Fentanyl: one culprit in the opioid epidemic

While the nation nervously watches the opioid epidemic seize the lives of thousands of Americans, another drug has quietly entered the scene. Fentanyl, a narcotic used to treat severe pain, has recently made headlining news with its high risk for dependency and overdoses. While various programs, including those in Virginia, have worked to reduce the number of overdoses and deaths due to a number of drugs, the issues surrounding fentanyl continue to accumulate. State officials are now considering the best strategies to address this crippling issue.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch acknowledges the widespread problem of fentanyl, especially in the state of Virginia. In fact, the Dispatch shares that the drug is now the top killer in the state, having caused 618 deaths in 2016 alone. The Dispatch highlights the unfortunate trend that illegal opioids have caused more deaths than legal opioids in recent years. Some experts point toward the primary factor that fans the flame: money. Countless users have recognized the financial gain from including fentanyl in the heroin they sell, thus maximizing the problem -- especially to those relatively new to the drug and inexperienced with heroin in general.

What constitutes disorderly conduct?

Disorderly conduct seems like a straightforward offense. However, several factors need to be present, according to Virginia law, for a person to receive formal charges. 

Disorderly conduct is almost always a misdemeanor on its own, but it can become accompanied by other offenses that could qualify as felonies. In addition to the person acting recklessly, there are certain factors that need to be present for disorderly conduct charges to stick. 

What's the difference between petty and grand larceny?

When Virginia residents like you face larceny charges, you may wonder about the impact a conviction could have on your life. Unfortunately, all convictions will leave a negative imprint behind. For this reason, those facing such criminal charges may wish to turn to Ronald E Smith PC. He works to provide you with the knowledge you need to understand the charges you're up against.

The defining line that separates grand larceny from petty larceny can differ from state to state. In Virginia, grand larceny occurs if the property or thing that you have stolen is equivalent to over two hundred dollars. Grand larceny is a felony crime, as compared to petty larceny which is a misdemeanor. It should also be noted that purse snatching, mugging, or property theft from a person are all considered felony crimes as well. However, in those cases, the overall value stolen only has to be equal to five dollars.

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