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Lynchburg Criminal Defense Blog

A “harmless” online prank can be anything but harmless

There are people of all ages in Virginia and elsewhere who play video games online. Many of these games involve countless other strangers, some of whom cooperate in teams or compete against each other. Not surprisingly, these games can be emotionally charged. It can also be easy for players to forget that they are interacting with real people, and they may escalate an online argument into something worse.

Reportedly, a dispute over a popular online shooter game resulted in one player asking a man from Los Angeles, California, to play a “swatting” prank on a man from Wichita, Kansas. The man called authorities in December, pretending to be the Kansas man, and said that he had killed a family member and was holding others hostage. When officers arrived at the innocent man’s home, they shot and killed him when he made a sudden move, which they misinterpreted as reaching for a weapon. The Los Angeles man is being held without bail, and he is facing felony charges of making a false police call.

Simple marijuana possession could end your college career

Laws around marijuana have become more lenient in many states over recent years. More than half of the states around the country have legalized adult recreational marijuana use or medical marijuana use for people with qualifying conditions. Virginia is not one of these states.

Despite growing evidence regarding potential medical, economic and social benefits associated with legalization, Virginia still criminalizes marijuana possession. Depending on the amount of marijuana present and the kind of marijuana, the penalties can be quite steep. Even worse, a guilty plea or conviction could put a sudden end to your college career.

Drunk driving death might result in a manslaughter charge

When you go out for drinks, the last thing on your mind is to cause an accident while driving home. However, after having a few drinks, your judgment might be clouded, or you might believe that the alcohol is out of your system. Despite your best intentions at the beginning of the night, you have decided to drive home. At the law office of Mark B. Arthur, PC, we have spoken to numerous people in the same situation, who meant no harm but were held responsible for alcohol-related accidents. It is important for you and other Virginia residents to understand the potential consequences of a drunk driving accident that resulted in someone’s death.

According to Virginia Decoded, a drunk driving accident that resulted in a fatality qualifies as involuntary manslaughter, and is a Class 5 felony. What is involuntary manslaughter? This is the term for an accidental death that resulted from reckless or unlawful activity. In this case, you could be charged for involuntary manslaughter after a fatal accident in which alcohol was detected in your system. Other examples of involuntary manslaughter might include a death after a gun mistakenly discharges, or a fatal car accident that resulted from speeding or driving while texting.

What you should know about cellphone usage while driving

Virginia drivers need to be aware of state laws applying to the usage of cellphones while driving. It also is a good idea to know the laws of other states before using a cellphone while behind the wheel there. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that while no state has yet completely banned cellphone usage for all drivers, 14 states and Washington, D.C., have banned the use of hand-held cellphones.

Virginia does not yet ban hand-held cellphone usage while driving, but does, along with 37 other states and Washington, D.C., ban all types of cellphone usage by teen drivers. This ban applies to Virginia school bus drivers as well.

What choices can keep you from getting a DUI?

The holidays have come and gone, but there are still reasons to go out and celebrate with your friends or family. A special achievement, an anniversary, a birthday or just wanting to go out and have fun are all reasons you might go to a bar or a party. However, it is important for you and other Virginia residents to understand that when there is alcohol, there is also the chance of getting a DUI.

Fortunately, you can still have a good time and make it home safely with your record intact. Here are some of the best ways to avoid getting arrested for drunk driving, provided by State Farm:

  • Have a sober designated driver take you and your friends to the festivities. This might be someone who does not drink, or you and your friends might take turns. The designated driver should be able to give everyone a safe ride home.
  • Try to avoid getting overly intoxicated. Too much alcohol can impair your judgment or leave you vulnerable to being victimized.
  • Call a taxi, a ride-sharing service or someone from home to pick you up if you do not have a designated driver.
  • Consider alternating your nights out with nights in at home, where you do not have to drive after drinking. If you are hosting a party, be sure to provide non-alcoholic beverages and arrange sober rides home for those who should not be driving. Never serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.

Understanding date rape

Date rape is a continuing problem in Virginia and across the nation. While both men and women can be raped, women are most often the victims of rape. GirlsHealth defines rape as any sexual act forced upon a woman by someone else, including intercourse, sodomy or insertion of an object into her mouth, rectum or vagina. Date rape is a rape committed by someone the woman knows, such as her current boyfriend.

One of the most important things to know about date rape is that it has nothing to do with love or even with sex per se. It is strictly about the power and control that the perpetrator exerts over the victim. The law considers any kind of rape to be a crime, including date rape and nonconsensual sex when a couple is in a relationship.

What's required to prove prescription drug possession?

Imagine you were going for a walk in your Lynchburg neighborhood when, out of nowhere, a police officer pulls up and starts asking you questions. Pretty soon, the officer has you in handcuffs and is driving you to the police station on charges of prescription drug possession.

The problem is, you didn't commit the crime -- and now you have to defend yourself in court against charges that you're not guilty of. If you're in a situation like this, you need to understand what's required to convict you of a prescription drug possession crime.

Holidays can be difficult during a divorce or separation

If you are going through a divorce or separated from your spouse during the holiday season, this can be a difficult time of year for you. It is never easy to feel alone, and memories of happier years might add to the strain. At the law office of Mark B. Arthur, PC, we understand this can be heartbreaking for you and other Virginia residents who are going through the same thing.

While a divorce might not be pleasant to endure this time of year, there is no reason you should be miserable. The Huffington Post has provided numerous tips for lifting your spirits during a divorce or separation over the holidays.

  • Make sure to get out, instead of staying in. Gloomy weather and sad circumstances may heighten depression. Walking the dog, hitting the gym or meeting friends for coffee can boost your mood.
  • Take a break. It is OK to tell your attorney that would like to resume divorce negotiations after the holidays.
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed, have your children do the decorating and gift-wrapping. This serves the double benefit of letting them do something fun and getting the divorce out of their minds.
  • If holiday stress is too much, ask someone to take the kids for an afternoon or go Christmas shopping with you. Also, do not be afraid to say no when others place too many demands on you.
  • Do something positive. If you have the means, give back by buying food or gifts for a family in need or by volunteering.
  • Know when you need help. If the negative feelings become too much, reach out to a counselor or call a hotline. Avoid feeling like you have to do it all on your own.

What is domestic violence in Virginia?

If you are a victim of domestic violence in Virginia, you may be unclear about what protections are available to you and what you can do to enhance your future safety. The Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court states that domestic violence cases, also called family abuse cases, can be either civil or criminal in nature. In a civil case, you seek a protective order against your abuser, asking that he be prevented from doing certain things. In a criminal case, such as for domestic assault and battery, your abuser is charged with a crime by a prosecutor and can be jailed or otherwise penalized if he is convicted.

Virginia defines family abuse as any act committed by a family or household member that results in your physical injury or puts you in reasonable fear that you will receive serious bodily injury. Family abuse can include such things as physical violence, force, detention, threats, stalking and harassment.

How does a felony DUI charge impact your life?

In Virginia, the laws against drunk driving are harsh and the penalties for being convicted of DUI are even tougher. Mark B Arthur PC is here to help you if you find yourself facing a felony DUI charge, which can have lasting impacts on your life if you're convicted.

Felony DUI charges are considered the most severe of the DUI charges you can face. Whereas drunk driving without any injury being done to others is considered a gross misdemeanor, felony DUI charges include potential harm to passengers, pedestrians, or others. 

When You Are Ready To Fight This Criminal Charge, We Are Here For You. Call 434-338-7028 For Your Free Initial Consultation.
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