How Public Is The Knowledge Of A DUI Arrest In Virginia?
Criminal and traffic cases in Virginia that involve adults are a matter of public record. Nearly all jurisdictions in Virginia will list their docket of case information on the Virginia Supreme Court website. There are a few jurisdictions that have their own websites and other jurisdictions that do not produce any of their information online. All known Virginia jurisdictions are equipped with computer terminals that are searchable for the general public located in the courthouse. This information is typically not retrieved through a standard Google search, so someone looking for your case must be searching for your case information on the appropriate jurisdiction website to view your case information.
There are third party companies that compile court information and place them in more public places such as an online blog or mug shot publications. We have represented clients that have been successful in reaching those third parties and convincing them to remove the information if we have secured an acquittal, a dismissal or reduction of the charges. However, current Virginia law does little to protect the citizens in this arena and sway the cooperation of the third party. It is unlikely this information will quickly be removed from the internet or retraction lifted in a print publication.
What Are The Most Common Mistakes Committed That Are Detrimental To A DUI Case?
The most common mistake is not using their Miranda Rights. After arrest you have the right to remain silent. You should use it, plain and simple. Often times, the most incriminating evidence against a person in a DUI case are the statements that they make against themselves. Routinely, people will tell an officer that they drank alcohol or just did drugs prior to operating a car. Even more incredibly, people will apologize to the officer for “driving drunk” and promise to “never drive drunk again.” Police officers are sworn to protect and serve so they are not going to let you off with a promise to never do it again. They will definitely tell the prosecutor, jury and the judge that you admitted to the crime.
Other mistakes that we see include hiring an attorney that does not normally practice in the area or does not handle DUI cases. DUI cases, unlike some other areas of the law are not one size fits all. DUI defense is a very specific area of law that is uniquely based on certain facts and circumstances of each stop. No two stops are the same. Whether an officer followed procedure or there are issues with the blood, breath or field sobriety tests that were administered. You need somebody who knows what they are doing in that area of law as well as that jurisdiction. In Northern Virginia, a lot of jurisdictions have local practices and preferences that relate only to DUI cases and if your attorney does not know them, you may miss an important deadline or not be prepared for court as you should be.
Other common mistakes include picking up a new charge. Most times people that are charged with a DUI are released on some type of bond depending on their criminal history as we usually see as a recognizance bond. Picking up a new charge puts that bond in jeopardy. The original jurisdiction where you are charged with a DUI can move to have your bond revoked if you pick up a new charge while your DUI case is pending. Also, it is going to put you in jeopardy for a magistrate to perhaps make a bond determination and hold you without bond on your new charge when they see that you have a current DUI case pending.
Lastly, the biggest mistake that some clients make is not showing up to court. The only way to fight a DUI case is to be present for that case; it must be a priority in your life. Often times we hear from clients that they forgot the date, and they did not think it was going to be that big of a deal or we hired a lawyer, can you just show up on my behalf. DUI charges are very serious in Virginia. They are not the type of case where we can waive your appearance. It is very important that you show up to court.
How Do You Advise Clients That Want To Plead Guilty To DUI Charges In Virginia?
We advise our clients not to plead guilty without first talking to an attorney. I hear that frequently from DUI clients that we speak to, but I will tell them what I tell everyone else, that quickly entering a plea “just to get it over with” does not allow you to fully evaluate the case that is against you. It does not put you in the best possible position to seek the best possible outcome. Something as simple as filing the motion to suppress to attempt to limit the evidence may put you in a much different position from someone who just comes in and enters a guilty plea on the first court date.
If you can file a successful motion to suppress, that limits the scope of an officer’s traffic stop that keeps out the evidence of the search which can lead to a successful outcome. Part of this process is adversarial and the Commonwealth of Virginia is on the other side. We have to be able to show to the Commonwealth that we are prepared for trial, that we have an opportunity to win at trial and that they have the risk to lose a trial before they will effectively negotiate with us.
For more information on Public Knowledge of DUI Arrest, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (703) 552-2462 today.
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