Common Myths and Misconceptions about Court in Virginia
For someone who finds themselves or a family member facing a criminal charge in Virginia, from felonies to misdemeanors to even reckless driving, there is often an overwhelming feeling of panic. This is completely understandable, as it is a serious and unfamiliar situation. People often turn to what they have seen on TV or movies as a reference point for what might happen to them. While shows might be good drama, they are not good sources of facts. Here are some important things to know and think about if you are facing a criminal charge in Virginia.
Myth 1: “Help, I’ve been arrested! I must have already been found guilty of a crime!”
Fortunately, this is not true at all. An arrest, summons, or even a ticket, is just an accusation by the police that a crime was committed, but it is NOT the same as a conviction. Accusations are unproven until a judge or jury decides, in court, that a crime has been committed. At Bret Lee Legal Solutions, we have an outstanding record of contesting and disproving accusations. Anyone can be accused of a crime, but nothing is final on a permanent record until the government proves a crime was committed in court, to a judge, after a fair hearing. There are many things we can do for you at Bret Lee Legal Solutions to set your case up for a more favorable outcome. Wherever possible, we look to have the charge reduced or dismissed.
Myth 2: “I’ve been accused of a crime so that means I’ll be convicted of it.
Every crime, such as a DUI/DWI, assault and battery, theft charges, and drug charges, even minor traffic infractions have a checklist of factual requirements, called “elements”, that need to be proven before a judge or jury can find someone guilty of that crime. If a key fact is not proven, the charge can be less severe, or that the case is dismissed because a critical part is missing. At Bret Lee Legal Solutions, we analyze both the facts and law to provide a focused defense that goes after the critical components and elements of the crime. Through our deep experience in courts throughout Northern Virginia, we know the key elements judges care about and build our client’s defense to focus on the critical missing piece or defect in the charge to obtain the best outcomes for our clients.
Myth 3: “What happened that day was terrible. I know I messed up, so everyone else will know too”
Many people believe that every single detail of an encounter with the police will be recorded and presented in advance to a judge. This is not the case. Officers will usually take notes related to an arrest, and will often have other evidence, like recordings or statements, but this evidence does not capture every detail or every moment of an incident.
Moreover, evidence is not presented to a judge before the trial. A judge will only know the accusation. There are many things that can happen during an incident but are not admissible as evidence in a trial. One of the core elements of our process at Bret Lee Legal Solutions is to carefully review all the potential evidence and develop compelling arguments to keep out damaging evidence that does not meet the admissibility requirements of the law.
Myth 4: “I made a bad mistake, and when I have to tell the judge what happened, I’ll certainly be convicted. This is hopeless.”
Many people fear they will be forced to talk to the Judge, police, or prosecutor and tell them what happened. Everyone has a Constitutional Right not to testify against themselves, which is one of the core rights in the Fifth Amendment. This core personal right means no one can be forced to explain what happened, and no one is required to give evidence against themselves. At Bret Lee Legal Solutions we advocate for our clients and ensure their silence cannot be used against them. We work with our clients to determine what to say and not to say.
If you are facing a criminal charge in Virginia and have questions about these or any other aspects of your case, contact us today for a free consultation