Do People Realize the Severity of Their Criminal Charge?

UNDERSTANDING THE SEVERITY OF A CRIMINAL CHARGE?

Do People Realize the Severity of Their Criminal ChargePeople often don’t realize what a criminal charge actually is, especially criminal traffic charges. They see the charge only from their point of view; but not from the point of view of the prosecutor, the police, the Judge or society; which is crucial. A large part of my job is to educate my clients; to get them to get outside of themselves and see things as everyone else sees them, not just how they see it; To see their actions and the law, but also to get rid of their defense mechanisms, excuses and fears – and then get down to the business of looking at this case from everybody else’s position, which is really the one that counts.  What we need to do is to get the client outside of themselves and see how the charge looks from the police point of view; the prosecutor’s point of view; the Judge’s point of view; and the community’s point of view; then, we can then begin, in earnest, to work together as a team to get their charge dismissed or reduced.

People often simply don’t see things from another person’s, or society’s, point of view. They don’t realize that they’re thinking only about themselves getting jailed; or fired from their job and/or losing their family – and they’re thinking of nothing else.  While these are all very legitimate concerns, they must move beyond that. Yes, they may very well get jailed or fined, or worse, since we’re talking about criminal charges, but that’s not the point. The point is even if they’re found guilty, or plead guilty or no contest, they will have a conviction record in the National Crime Information Center, Homeland Security, FBI Database, for the rest of their lives; and this fact would be held against them when they’re looking for a jobs in the future; trying to obtain a security clearance; or volunteering for coaching their kids in sports; etc.  They often won’t even realize why they didn’t get that job in the future, or why their neighbor was not comfortable living next door to them.

One more thing: In Northern Virginia; we have huge immigrant populations, which most people don’t think about. People who are not U.S. citizens, but who receive a criminal conviction, will likely have major immigration consequences – everything from not getting their “Green Card” or work permit renewed; to not being allowed re-entry to the United States; not getting their Citizenship, or even being deported, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service does not view Felonies and Misdemeanors the way Virginia law and courts do.  Some Virginia State Misdemeanors can be considered Aggravated Felonies under Immigration Law. Also, if a non-U.S. citizen is sentenced in a certain way, this can also trigger immigration consequences that can cause them to be deported or barred, which is why it is really important that non-citizens know this.  It must be explained to them.

In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled several years ago that criminal defense lawyers, such as myself and my firm, will be considered to be guilty of ineffective assistance of counsel if we don’t ask every potential client who comes into our office; if they are a U.S. citizen or not.  It is our obligation to know whether they are or they are not a U.S. citizen.  If they are not a U.S. citizen, then we have an obligation, at a minimum, to tell them to also not only retain our Firm, but to also consult with an immigration lawyer as well; because the outcome of their case would cause them to lose their immigration status and be deported. So, the immigration lawyer and the criminal defense lawyer must work together.

What we want is for the immigration attorney to tell us what our non-citizen clients can, and cannot, tolerate in the final disposition of their particular type of criminal charge. We discharge our legal duty when we tell a non-citizen to see an immigration attorney immediately; but unfortunately, many non-citizens do not heed our advice and they put their chances at remaining in the U.S., or having their Green cards renewed or obtaining citizenship, in jeopardy; as they could face additional immigration consequences, in addition to a criminal record, jail.

As you can see, it is important that as a criminal defense attorney for any particular client, citizen or non-citizen, that potential clients must come to us in a non-defensive manner; in which they are prepared to tell us everything about the facts of their charge; their life; their jobs; what they hold dear; and what their needs are in the outcome of their case – so that we can shape our defense together as a “Team” for the very best outcome possible.  We work as a Team, both with our client and ourselves as attorneys, doing our separate “Due Diligence” homework together.  Therefore, combining our forces for an incredibly powerful defense on behalf of our client.

The vast majority of the many thousands of cases that I and my firm have handled for over 30 years have resulted in an outcome that was better than the potential outcome when the client first came to us.  And, in fact, many of the charges that our clients have had over the years have been dismissed, nolleprossed, significantly reduced or resulted in “deferred judgments” which allowed the charges to eventually be dismissed.  I enjoy my job even after over 30 years.  I feel fresh and new everyday, as does my Team at my office.  We are optimistic and hopeful, but realistic about the law the facts and our clients.  We work for the best and plan for the worst.  This combination of all things working together as a Team results in almost always positive outcomes for our clients.

Therefore, if you have a criminal or criminal traffic charge, please contact myself or any of the lawyers on my Team at NovaLegalGroup, P.C.  We will always have an attorney talk to you, on the phone, on your first call. You will not be shoveled off to a paralegal or a secretary to talk about the details of your case. Rather, you will talk to an attorney, on the phone for an extended period of time, in fact as long as you feel like you need and want to. And then, after our initial extended phone consultation, we will invite you in for a second detailed and in-person free consultation as a follow-up, in which we will work together to design a customized “Plan of Action” for you. In addition, we offer the ability to have an Extended Payment Plan to meet the financial needs of our clients. We will work with you within your budget and financial needs, together!

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