How Should Out of State Criminal Defendants Handle Virginia Charges?

Washington DC is one of the most frequently visited tourist destinations in the United States. Many people travel to the area for business to attend college and to visit family. Unfortunately, during some of these visits, individuals who do not reside in Virginia occasionally are accused of committing crimes while in Commonwealth. In my experience, the most frequent charges of this variety are drug possession, petty larceny, vandalism, drunk in public, and offenses at Dulles and D.C. National airports. The Northern Virginia area (including Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington, and Alexandria) sees most of these issues.

Incurring a criminal charge in a state other than your home can involve a myriad of complicated issues. Among those issues are whether or not a person will have to travel back to Virginia simply to go to court. In some instances, an attorney can waive his client's presence at trial. This may be crucial if travel back to Virginia is extraordinarily difficult for family reasons or expensive due to the length and distance from an individual's home state.

Another common problem with out-of-state charges is that is the law of the charged jurisdiction that controls punishment, procedure, and penalty. Accordingly, in trial, Virginia courts will not consider whether a certain behavior (such as possession of marijuana) is legal in an accused person's home territory. Virginia courts will consider a person's previous criminal records from other states when determining a punishment for a Virginia offense. Review of these prior out of state convictions is crucial for any adequate representation because in many cases penalty for Virginia offense can drastically increase or even become a felony simply based on a defendant's record from another state.

Probation, bond and pre-trial supervision are also complicated for non-Virginians charged in the Commonwealth. Courts are less likely to give non-Virginians bail or bond pending trial. Judges are concerned that out of state defendants pose a risk of flight and will return to their home state to avoid prosecution.

After trial, it is difficult for out of state clients to take advantage of deferred disposition arrangements that require community service or drug testing. Experienced attorneys, however, can resolve these concerns to prevent their clients from having to return to Virginia merely to meet with a probation officer or satisfy alternative resolution requirements.

If you reside out of Virginia and find yourself charged with an offense here, I can help you with your problems. The concerns above are a small fraction of the problems you will face. Please contact me if you need assistance.

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