Virginia Crime Rate Increased in 2022
The overall crime rate in Virginia went up 5 percent in 2022, according to the Virginia State Police.
Homicides were up 10.5 percent with 621 people killed in 2022. The data also showed both victims and offenders were on the younger side, with 42 percent of murder victims being between the ages of 18 to 34 and just over 52 percent of those who committed the crimes in the same age group. For the first time in a decade, the state also saw an increase in burglaries and attempted burglaries. Burglary cases were up almost 4 percent in 2022 compared to 2021.
Drug arrests were down in 2022 by almost 9 percent compared to 2021. However, the number of people under 18 years old arrested on drug charges went up, Virginia State Police said.
The Arrest Process
This process usually starts with a law enforcement contact and ends with reasonable terms for pretrial release.
A law enforcement contact is usually an offense within view, like a traffic violation, that the arresting officer witnesses. Sometimes, officers respond to a disturbance call, like a report of a wild party or an assault. Other times, officers act on an informant’s tip.
These arrest methods are progressively easier for a Winchester criminal defense lawyer to successfully challenge in court.
An offense within view must be just that. It must be a criminal offense as opposed to a suspicion of criminal activity. Any criminal act, even a minor traffic violation, suffices.
Normally, when police respond to disturbance calls, they interview witnesses to determine what happened. Frequently, these witnesses are biased or incompetent to testify for some reason, perhaps because they were drinking. Informer’s tips, especially anonymous tips, are almost per se unreliable. If the tipster didn’t back the information given, there’s no reason a judge should give it any more validity.
The Eighth Amendment requires reasonable bail in criminal cases. Initially, a reasonable amount usually depends on the defendant’s criminal history as well as the severity of the offense. At a subsequent bail reduction hearing, a Winchester criminal defense lawyer can use additional factors, such as the defendant’s ability to pay, to reduce bail even further.
The Criminal Justice Process
This process usually begins with an indictment, at least in felony cases, and ends with a plea bargain agreement.
The arrest process is subject to legal challenge. The indictment process, on the other hand, is largely a rubber stamp. Grand jurors only hear from prosecutors. Defense lawyers aren’t even allowed in the same room. As a result, one federal judge famously remarked that even a mediocre prosecutor could convince a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.
Before plea negotiations begin, defense lawyers look for procedural and/or substantive defenses. Procedural defenses usually involve a Fourth Amendment search and seizure or other Constitutional violation. Substantive defenses involve a lack of evidence. The burden of proof in a criminal case (beyond any reasonable doubt) is extremely high. Frequently, the defendant “did it,” but the state doesn’t have enough evidence to prove it.
Most plea bargains include a reduced charge or a reduced sentence. This reduced sentence could even be something like deferred disposition probation. If defendants successfully complete N-Fog (no finding of guilt) probation, they don’t have convictions on their permanent records.
Count on a Dedicated Loudoun County Lawyer
There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Winchester, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters throughout Northern Virginia.