The Vincenzes Law Firm’s
Lion’s Den Newsletter
In this issue:
Fall 2013 November Giveaway:
1 subscriber will win a Google Nexus Tablet, and 6 will win assorted DVD movies.
Tip of the Month:
Why driving on a suspended license is easier than you think
Interlude to NSA Critique: Humility, Vision, and Initiative
Selected Case Law Development:
Boone v. Commonwealth (prior convictions)
How we are helping, and how you can, too
Q – Can I get serious felony charge erased from my record?
Dumb Law of the Month:
the legality of radar detectors in Virginia
The winner will be randomly selected from our list of subscribers on Saturday, November 9th, 2013 at Noon. Any person who is at least 18 years old, lives in the United States, and has subscribed by that date is eligible.
The tablet is an 8 gigabyte (GB) refurbished model. It has been turned on only one time in order to test it prior to this giveaway.
The winner will have fun exploring the world’s largest eBookstore, millions of songs, movies and apps. This is a powerful tablet with a quad-core processor, camera, and 7 inch HD display. Perfect for games, work, and entertainment.
After the winner has been determined, six additional randomly selected subscribers will win their choice of one of the following factory sealed DVDs. These winners will be notified at the same time, and availability of the person’s DVD choice will be on a first-to-respond basis.
- Ghostbusters 1 & 2 DVD set plus collectible scrapbook
- The Bourne Supremacy
- Forrest Gump
- Saw Trilogy DVD Set (Saw, Saw II, and Saw III)
- Wedding Crashers
If you get a ticket or have to pay court costs due to a traffic infraction or criminal offense, make sure you either pay within 30 days, or contact the court to let them know about your financial situation. Sometimes, it is possible to get on a payment plan.
Why is it so important to pay your fees on time? If you do not, your driver’s license will be suspended. And if your license is suspended and you continue to drive, you will probably get pulled over. Police officers have the ability to scan plates to determine whether or not a vehicle owner currently has a valid license.
If the database the police use shows that the owner(s) of a vehicle currently have a suspended or revoked license, they will typically stop the driver. Driving on a suspended license is a criminal offense, and is the most serious type of misdemeanor (Class 1). It is punishable by 12 months in confinement and up to $2,500, not to mention loss of driving privileges. Read more about driving with a suspended license here.
The opinion piece I am publishing next week (and December’s featured article) is about the National Security Agency (NSA), the Patriot Act, and a new bill called the USA Freedom Act. This month’s featured article is a prelude to the NSA article, and is entitled, “The Importance of Humility, Vision, and Initiative.”
Here are a few excerpts, with the link to the full article just below:
When we become wise enough to elect the right leaders, then America will finally get back on the road to recovery.
What right do we have to complain about something if we are not engaged? Talk to friends and co-workers about current events, not just what happened on Breaking Bad . . . or the legal woes of a starlet who is not even aware of our existence.
To facilitate change, we must appreciate that change starts from the bottom.
Words have much more meaning and force behind them when we prudently — rather than compulsively — object.
The dysfunction in D.C. is greed. The funny thing about greed is that it often leads to poverty. Poverty opens the door to corruption, oppression, and tyranny.
Greed and humility cannot co-exist.
What we accomplish today is only limited by what we accomplished yesterday. And the possibilities for tomorrow are only limited by how much we achieve today. This is vision.
We often arrive at crossroads in life. Some people hate to have to make a choice. But if we are living the right way, do we really have a choice at all?
Read the full article here
Boone v. Commonwealth, Record No. 121144 (2013)
“Does the Code of Virginia § 18.2-308.2(A) limit the number of convictions the Commonwealth may prove in a trial upon an indictment charging possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of a violent felony?”
Some background for context:
Boone was indicted for knowingly or intentionally possessing or transporting a firearm after having been previously convicted of committing a violent felony. At trial, the prosecution offered one robbery and four burglary convictions into evidence. Boone objected to this, because in his opinion, allowing all five felony convictions to be admitted into evidence would be cumulative and prejudicial. He argues that the way the statute is written, it should only allow the Commonwealth to admit one prior felony conviction.
The Court did not agree with Boone, citing a previous case, the court opined:1
“the Commonwealth is not obliged to have faith that the jury would be satisfied with any particular one or more of the items of proof. Therefore, it was entitled to utilize its entire arsenal of prior convictions to meet its burden” Id. at 35-36, 434 S.E.2d at 696.
because the law establishes the elements of the offense rather than a rule of evidence by which the elements may be proven, the statute does not limit the Commonwealth’s prerogative to meet its burden of proof using whatever available evidence it chooses.
While the court was not on Boone’s side in this case, it did state that the Commonwealth does not have an “unfettered” ability to admit every relevant conviction. The judge has the right, in his or her discretion, to exclude evidence if it is repetitious and cumulative, or when the prejudicial effect substantially exceeds probative value.2
 Pittman v. Commonwealth, 17 Va. App. 33, 434 S.E.2d 694 (1993)
 See, Harrison v. Commonwealth, 244 Va. 576, 585, 423 S.E.2d 160,165 (1992); Juniper v.Commonwealth, 271 Va. 362, 412, 626 S.E.2d 383, 415 (2006)
Brenton D. Vincenzes speaks to teens and young adults who have had recent run-ins with the law for alcohol or drug possession. The Fairfax County Public Schools program could always use additional community leaders and professionals who are familiar with the justice system to speak. If you are interested in this opportunity, you can contact Brent directly here. We will put you in touch with the administrators of this intervention program.
We are also supporting a fundraiser to help send children in Afirca to school. Long-time friend of the Vincenzes Law Firm, Robert Rose, visited Africa a few months ago and was inspired to raise awareness and help. To learn more about this cause, or to contribute a few dollars, go here or see below:
This section is dedicated to answering real questions submitted by subscribers. Remember, all urgent legal questions should be submitted via a case evaluation form or by making a phone call. But for non-pressing matters, or things you may be curious about, you can submit your question for inclusion in a future newsletter, here.
This month, the question our Virginia criminal lawyer answers is about expungement:
Q: “I’m finding it hard to pass employment background checks. I have a felony on my record from about 10 years ago, and I am no longer the same person as I was back then. Is there a way to erase this from my record?” – Stu
A: The process you are thinking of is called “expungement.” You can learn all about it on our website. Here is a helpful page where I have previously answered related questions. Unfortunately, if you were found guilty or if you accepted a deal requiring a guilty plea in exchange for a lighter sentence, then expunging the record is 99% out of the question. I say 99%, because technically speaking, a pardon from the governor will work to expunge a record. But what are the chances of that? All arrests remain on a record for life, but if the arrest does not lead to a guilty verdict of any sort (such as a nolle prosequi disposition, or an acquittal, and sometimes a dismissal), then a person is eligible.
The Commonwealth can challenge the expungement at a hearing, but whether or not they do put up a fight depends upon circumstances. This is one reason why I encourage anyone who is facing a criminal charge speak with a lawyer. Even if the charge is relatively minor, like reckless driving or possession of marijuana, these offenses may have non-legal, but still serious repercussions if they are not expunged from an adult’s criminal record.
Radar detectors in private vehicles are legal almost everywhere in the United States. Unfortunately, almost everywhere does not include Virginia. Virginia is the only state with this law. You can read Virginia Code § 46.2-1079 if you are so inclined. The police can confiscate the device, but it does not result in demerit points. It is not against the law to have a radar detector in your possession in Virginia, you just can have it turned on in your vehicle. There are exceptions for officials, but for the average person, no radar detectors in Virginia is the rule. Washington D.C. is the only other jurisdiction with this dumb rule in effect.
If you need to talk to a legal professional about an upcoming case or investigation, you can reach us at: 888.695.6565 or 703.665.3719
Alternatively, you may request a free consultation using our case evaluation form.
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