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Criminal Defense FAQ

Common Questions About Criminal Defense

At Lawrence, Smith and Gardner, in Fairfax, Virginia, we answer questions every day about criminal law. Most are from people who are facing a criminal charge for the first time or from a family member of someone who needs experienced criminal defense representation. Many of the questions are specific to the criminal charges the caller faces. Many, however, are general questions about the criminal law process in state and federal courts in Virginia.

Here are some of the most common questions we hear, along with general answers. Of course, every case is different so please call us to discuss your own circumstances.

  • Criminal Defense

    • Will I go to jail for my misdemeanor charge?

      Most misdemeanors carry a possible punishment of up to 12 months in jail, but a lot depends on the nature of the offense. If this is your first offense and you are convicted (including a guilty plea), we have an excellent record of working with prosecutors to seek an alternative to jail time.

    • What about felony charges?

      Felony charges are much more serious, and the penalties often include a mandatory prison sentence, particularly for federal felony offenses. We work vigorously for acquittal or, where appropriate, to reduce charges to a misdemeanor. Whenever possible, we fight aggressively to help our clients avoid the possibility of a harsh prison sentence.

    • How much will my DUI/DWI charges cost me?
      The amount of legal fees you pay your attorney depends upon what you expect your lawyer to do for you. Every law firm is different because every law firm offers various levels of service. If it is your choice to initially plead guilty; that will certainly cost less in legal fees than fighting a conviction all the way through trial. The criminal penalty can include a hefty fine, but most are significantly lower for a first offense.
    • Will I lose access to my children because of my domestic violence arrest?
      The law does include some provisions that may prevent an abuser from gaining unsupervised access to their children, depending upon the circumstances of the arrest. There are provisions for access and parenting time under predetermined conditions. Your children’s safety will always be the first priority in these types of cases.
    • Why does having an experienced criminal defense lawyer make such a difference?
      Remember, it is the prosecutor’s job to convict you. You will be going through a process that is unfamiliar to most people. You will be attending hearings, undergoing questioning, and giving statements to various police investigators. At any turn, you could say or do something that can have an incriminating impact on your case. An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows from experience the strategies police and prosecutors will use against you. The prosecutors know which defense lawyers can be trusted when working toward a common-sense plea agreement. It takes years to build up that trust and integrity.