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Lynchburg Criminal Defense Blog

Call for more treatment to help with drug addiction

Virginia residents who have ever taken an opioid medication to control pain or know someone who has may have themselves witnessed firsthand the challenges associated with the addictive nature of these drugs. While originally heralded for their ability to help people manage severe pain after surgeries or due to chronic conditions, prescription pain medications like vicodin or oxycodone have led many people to develop serious and even deadly addictions. Along the way, many people have found themselves facing criminal charges related to these drugs as well.

With as many as 78 people said to die across the United States on a daily basis due to opioid drug addiction, several high-ranking legislators and politicians are calling for the current administration to take action. Some may have believed that more safeguards surrounding the prescribing of these drugs was the way to go but that effort has brought about an increase in activity involving street drugs.

Standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests

When a driver gets pulled over in Virginia and is suspected of driving under the influence, they may be asked to take a field sobriety test. There are two different types of these tests: standardized, and non-standardized.

The AAA DUI Justice Link lists the three standardized sobriety tests. Being standardized, all of the tests have the same qualifications that must be met and they can be argued more easily in a court. The three tests include the one-legged stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) tests. In the first, balance is checked as the person stands on one foot. In the second, balance and coordination are looked at as a person walks heel-to-toe in a straight line and then turns at the end and walks back. In the third, movements in the eye that could indicate the presence of alcohol are looked for.

DUIs are serious – especially if you’re underage

We all know that driving under the influence (DUI) charges come with some very serious consequences. If you are under the age of 21, those consequences could affect your future for years. Not only will you have a conviction on your criminal record, you might also face suspension from your university, problems finding employment, or even getting an apartment.

The laws in Virginia concerning underage DUI recipients tend to be very strict due to a disproportionately high number of drinking-and-driving fatalities caused by underage drinking. If you have received a DUI charge, it is important to remember that you still have the right to defend against the charges in court. Read further to find out more about penalties for underage DUIs in Virginia.

Drunk driving and the law

Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol can not only be dangerous, but costly. In Virginia, law enforcement takes measures to prevent such dangers and educate drivers about the consequences of driving while impaired. While drunk driving is a serious matter, learning about the facts can raise awareness and potentially create safer driving practices. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide drunk driving reports for each state in America. The CDC acknowledges that, with the drastic number of collisions and deaths as a result of driving under the influence, Virgina enforces sobriety checkpoints. These checkpoints allow police to briefly stop vehicles at specific, highly visible locations to check if the driver is impaired. Police may also use breath tests at these checkpoints for accuracy. If a driver fails a breath test or refuses to take the test, police may revoke a driver's license; the amount of time that police can withhold licenses varies from state to state.

Proposed bill to end cash bonds

Those who have been arrested in Virginia understand how stressful it can be to need to pay a cash bond in order to be released from jail while awaiting trial. Not everyone can afford to pay, and that can keep a person locked away from their family and their livelihood before even getting their day in court. A new bill proposed in the Senate is aiming to end the practice of bail bonds.

As the USA Today reports, Senators Kamala Harris (D. CA) and Rand Paul (R. KY) introduced a bill that would help states cover the $38 million it costs, per day, to pay for pretrial detention. The bill would use grant money to help local jurisdictions move away from the bail system, which the Senators say unfairly keeps poor defendants in jail before they have been proven guilty. This system hurts minorities and those who are not wealthy, creating a two-tiered system that can further marginalize defendants, who may lose their jobs or have their children taken into protective custody because they cannot pay. The grants would allow defendants to be released without paying and set up a risk assessment hearing to determine if there is a non-financial reason a court may want to detain a defendant before their trial.

Survey shows populations of divorced persons

For divorcing spouses in Virginia, one of the many challenges they may face as they process through the end of a marriage is a sense of loss. This may be more pronounced if they do not have strong support systems or are allowed to feel alone. Knowing that others have been through similar events and not only survived but even ultimately thrived can be helpful to people going through difficult times, including getting a divorce.

Data from an American Community Study highlights 15 cities in the United States that have the highest population percentages of divorced people. None of these cities are in Virginia. In fact, the closest states represented in this list are Ohio, Indiana, Missourie and Florida. Between these four states, there are 11 of the 15 cities combined. In Ohio, Youngstown, Hamilton and Canton occupy the number 12, 10 and six positions. In Indiana, Evansville, Kokomo and Anderson occupy the number nine, three and one positions.

Know your rights: Being stopped by police

Many in Virginia are aware of some of their rights because of crime procedural shows on television, but in the event of being stopped or questioned by law enforcement, it is important to understand the rights available to those in the United States. A person can end up a part of an investigation without having committed a crime, so being aware of one's rights is one way to protect against arrest.

As the American Civil Liberties Union explains, in the United States everyone has constitutional rights, even if they are an immigrant. When a person decides to use their right to remain silent, they should inform the officers of this out loud. Ask if the officers are making an arrest; if the answer is no, the person has the right leave. Without a search warrant, people have the right to refuse a search of themselves, their homes and vehicles. If an arrest is made, the person being arrested has the right to a lawyer and should ask to consult with one immediately. All of this should be done politely and in a calm manner. No one should lie to officers or try to hinder their investigation. 

DUI concerns over Fourth of July

As the end of June gets nearer, many residents in Virginia are eagerly looking forward to the long holiday weekend over the Fourth of July. From backyard barbeques to fun on a favorite lake or a road trip, the celebrations may abound. Alcoholic beverages are commonly enjoyed during these celebrations but people should take caution to ensure that they avoid a potential drunk driving arrest.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle explains that it is actually not just driving a motor vehicle like a car, truck or motorcycle that can result in an impaired driving charge but also operating a boat while impaired. The consequence that a person may experienced can be the same whether operating a boat or a car and these can be severe. Even a first offense may find a person without the right to drive for a period of time. Then, when driving privileges are reinstated, the use of an ignition interlock device may be mandated.

Don’t hesitate to ask for a child support modification

There may come a time when your court ordered child support arrangement no longer makes sense. And here is why: You may no longer be able to make your payment in full due to a major change in circumstances.

If you need to lower your child support payments, you need to take a few key steps. The following tips should put you on the right track:

Putting the children first in divorce

Virginia parents know the hardships that can come from divorce, which can feel like a devestating blow to a family. Managing aspects of the children's day to day life while one's own life feels as if it is going through a complete overhaul is difficult and can make the frustration and anger towards a spouse feel overwhelming. Yet many parents choose to focus on their children's stability as a way to work through the divorce peacefully.

As the Huffington Post notes, timing the separation and filing so that they disrupt the children's lives as little as possible is one reason the end of summer vacation sees a peak in divorces. When it comes to communicating with the children, it is best if the parents can talk with the kids together and address their questions with honesty, but also with a strong dose of kindness. Focusing on providing the information kids need to understand and feel loved, while leaving out details of animosity, will keep the children feeling safe. Some parents take turns living in the family house with the kids as the details are worked out in an effort to keep their schedules as standard as possible. Putting temporary parenting schedules and child support orders in place to ensure that the kids are taken care of physically and financially can establish boundaries and make sure the transition doesn't mean summer camp goes unpaid. 

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