Alexandria Traffic Court Tickets Lawyer VA

You are driving down the road in Alexandria and the next thing you see is flashing lights in your rear view mirror.

Great! What joy?

At best, you are going to get a speeding ticket or some other form of  traffic violation.

Virginia
Virginia traffic lawyer

 

Worst case scenario, you are going to be charged with a crime that masquerades as a traffic ticket.

You may be asking, what kind of crime could you be charged with for just driving down the road?

Alexandria Traffic Court Tickets Lawyer

Here are the possible criminal charges you could be facing:

So what is the big deal with any of the above tickets? After all they are just tickets right?

Wrong. The above tickets are misdemeanors.

What is a misdemeanor tckt in VA? A misdemeanor tckt may land you in jail and cause you to lose your license.

So you now have two options if you have received a misdemeanor tckt or speeding tckt.

You can go to court without a lawyer and hope for the best or you contact the SRIS Law Group lawyers for help.

We have a client meeting Location in Fairfax, Virginia.  You can reach by phone at 703-278-0405 or contact us online.

Our attorneys defend Virginia uniform summons speeding tckts, reckless driving tckts, driving on suspended license and aggressive driving tckts in the following jurisdictions:

Alexandria and Alexandria Federal Court.

The following are some of the questions our clients ask us when they get a tckt:

  • Do I have to go to the court if I got a tckt in Alexandria?
  • If I get too many Alexandria traffic tckts, will it affect my driving record in Virginia?
  • How do I find an Alexandria lawyer?
  • How much does it cost for me to get a lawyer to fight my Alexandria VA tckts?

The following are some of the traffic laws in Virginia:

Virginia Code § 46.2-870. Maximum speed limits generally.

Except as otherwise provided in this article, the maximum speed limit shall be 55 miles per hour on interstate highways or other limited access highways with divided roadways, nonlimited access highways having four or more lanes, and all state primary highways.

The maximum speed limit on all other highways shall be 55 miles per hour if the vehicle is a passenger motor vehicle, bus, pickup or panel truck, or a motorcycle, but 45 miles per hour on such highways if the vehicle is a truck, tractor truck, or combination of vehicles designed to transport property, or is a motor vehicle being used to tow a vehicle designed for self-propulsion, or a house trailer.

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, the maximum speed limit shall be 70 miles per hour where indicated by lawfully placed signs, erected subsequent to a traffic engineering study and analysis of available and appropriate accident and law-enforcement data, on: (i) interstate highways, (ii) multilane, divided, limited access highways, and (iii) high-occupancy vehicle lanes if such lanes are physically separated from regular travel lanes. The maximum speed limit shall be 60 miles per hour where indicated by lawfully placed signs, erected subsequent to a trfc engineering study and analysis of available and appropriate accident and law-enforcement data, on U.S. Route 29, U.S. Route 58, U.S. Route 360, U.S. Route 460, and on U.S. Route 17 between the town of Port Royal and Saluda where they are nonlimited access, multilane, divided highways.

§ 46.2-862. Exceeding speed limit.

A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.

The following is a case that is illustrative of a DUI case in Virginia:

Kenneth Wayne Turner (appellant) appeals his conviction of driving under the influence, second or subsequent offense, (DUI second offense) in violation of Code § 18.2-266. Appellant asserts that the Circuit Court for the City of Charlottesville (circuit ct) erred, following his appeal de novo to that ct, by amending the warrant on which he was convicted of DUI first offense in the General District ct for the City of Charlottesville (district ct) to DUI second offense. Specifically, he contends that he was acquitted of DUI second offense in the district ct when he was found guilty of the lesser-included offense of DUI first offense. He argues that pursuant to the Double Jeopardy Clause, on de novo appeal of that conviction, the circuit ct was only permitted to try him on the charge appealed, i.e., DUI first offense. We agree, reverse his conviction of DUI second offense, and remand to the circuit ct for resentencing.

  1. BACKGROUND

Appellant was arrested on December 25, 2004 for DUI first offense. Shortly thereafter on January 15, 2005, and prior to the trial for the December 2004 offense, appellant was again arrested in the same jurisdiction for DUI and charged with DUI second offense. Appellant was convicted of the December 2004 DUI first offense charge in the district ct in April 2005. He timely appealed that conviction to the circuit ct for a trial de novo.

Prior to the trial de novo on the December 2004 offense in the circuit ct, appellant was tried in the district ct on the January 2005 DUI second offense charge. The district ct convicted appellant of the lesser-included offense of DUI first offense. Appellant appealed that conviction to the circuit ct that same day.

On October 13, 2005, appellant withdrew the de novo appeal of his DUI first offense conviction arising out of the December 2004 arrest, thereby affirming that conviction. Thereafter, on the Commonwealth’s motion, the circuit ct amended the pending charge, based on the January 15, 2005 arrest, to DUI second offense. Appellant objected to the amendment on double jeopardy grounds, arguing that the district ct acquitted him of the DUI second offense charge when it found him guilty of DUI first offense. The circuit ct ruled that it  was “satisfied with this really not [being] a double jeopardy issue because there was not really a possibility of this case being brought forward until there were actually two convictions ….” Following trial de novo, appellant was convicted of DUI second offense.

  1. ANALYSIS

“The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, applicable to the States through the Fourteenth, provides that no person shall ‘be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.'” Brown v. Ohio, 432 U.S. 161, 164, 97 S. Ct. 2221, 53 L. Ed. 2d 187 (1977) (quoting U.S. Const. amend. V). This provision

embodies three guarantees: “[i]t protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal[; i]t protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction[; a]nd it protects against multiple punishments for the same offense.” Virginia’s constitutional guarantee against double jeopardy affords a defendant the same guarantees as the federal Double Jeopardy Clause.

Painter v. Commonwealth, 47 Va. App. 225, 232, 623 S.E. 2d 408, 411-12 (2005) (quoting Stephens v. Commonwealth, 263 v. 58, 62, 557 S.E. 2d 227, 229-30 (2002)).

Appellant asserts that the Clause’s protection against a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal applies to prohibit the circuit ct from amending a warrant on appeal to charge an offense of which he was acquitted in the district ct.

“In Virginia, when misdemeanor charges are initiated by warrant and a defendant is convicted of those charges in district ct, he may appeal to the circuit ct for a trial de novo.” Kenyon v. Commonwealth, 37 v. App. 668, 673, 561 S.E. 2d 17, 19-20 (citing Code § 16.1-136).

[A] trial on the same charges in the circuit ct does not violate double jeopardy principles, …subject only to the limitation that conviction in [the] district ct for an offense lesser included in the one charged constitutes an  acquittal of the greater offense, permitting trial de novo in the circuit ct only for the lesser-included offense.

Id. (citations omitted). See also Buck v. City of Danville, 213 v. 387, 388-89, 192 S.E. 2d 758, 759-60 (1972).

“[I]n a trial de novo the circuit ct disregards the judgment of the district ct, hears the evidence anew and may consider new evidence, and makes final disposition of the case as if the case had not proceeded to judgment in the district ct.” Commonwealth v. Diaz, 266 v. 260, 266, 585 S.E. 2d 552, 555 (2003). Once the trial de novo commences in the circuit ct, the district ct judgment is annulled, and is not thereafter available for any purpose. Kenyon, 37 v. App. at 673, 561 S.E. 2d at 20.

Here, the record reflects appellant was tried in the district ct on a warrant charging DUI second offense, an offense within the jurisdiction of the district ct to try, but was convicted of DUI first offense, a lesser-included offense. By convicting appellant of DUI first offense, the district ct necessarily acquitted him of the greater charge of DUI second offense. See Buck, 213 v. at 388, 192 S.E. 2d at 761. Accordingly, when appellant noted his appeal of the district ct conviction to the circuit ct, only the lesser charge of DUI first offense existed in the circuit ct for trial de novo. Painter, 47 v. App. at 234, 623 S.E. 2d at 412-13.

While circuit cts “have substantial discretion to amend [defective] warrants[]” upon de novo appeal from district cts, Rawls v. Commonwealth, 272 v. 334, 344, 634 S.E.2d 697, 702 (2006) (citing Code § 16.1-137; Robinson v. Commonwealth, 206 v. 766, 769, 146 S.E. 2d 197, 200 (1966); Malouf v. City of Roanoke, 177 v. 846, 853, 13 S.E. 2d 319, 321 (1941)), long-established double jeopardy principles mandate that there “cannot be a trial de novo, or otherwise for the same offense after an acquittal by a ct having authority and jurisdiction to try the offense.” Peak v. Commonwealth, 171 v. 535, 541, 199 S.E. 473, 476 (1938). Here, the Commonwealth was limited by appellant’s district ct acquittal of DUI second offense, and could prosecute appellant for no greater charge than the conviction appealed – DUI first offense. To hold otherwise would permit the Commonwealth on de novo appeal by a person convicted of a lesser-included offense to be re-prosecuted for the greater offense after acquittal in the district ct. “[S]tates may not, by the device of creating cts of limited jurisdiction, avoid the constitutional mandate against placing a person twice in jeopardy for the same offense.” Robinson v. Neil, 366 F. Supp. 924, 929 (E.D. Tenn. 1973).

Notably, the Commonwealth does not dispute that the circuit ct’s amendment of appellant’s warrant after his acquittal of the greater offense in the district ct implicates the Double Jeopardy Clause. However, it argues appellant’s withdrawal of the de novo appeal for his first DUI conviction arising out of his December 2004 arrest, permitted the circuit ct to amend the warrant pursuant to the “impossibility” exception to the Double Jeopardy Clause first contemplated in Diaz v. United States, 223 U.S. 442, 32 S. Ct. 250, 56 L. Ed. 500 (1912). Specifically, the Commonwealth contends that because it was impossible to “establish [appellant]’ s guilt for recidivist DUI on the January, 2005 charge when he was tried in [the district ct in] May, 2005,” “the [appellant]’ s retrial on the amended warrant in the circuit ct did not violate double jeopardy.” We disagree.

In Diaz, the United States Supreme ct determined that the Double Jeopardy Clause did not bar a prosecution for homicide where, subsequent to Diaz’s conviction for assault and battery, the victim died from the injuries inflicted during the assault and battery. In reaching its decision, the ct reasoned that the charges were “distinct offenses in both law and fact.” Diaz, 223 U.S. at 449, and until the death occurred, it was impossible to put him in jeopardy for the homicide offense.

The ct has subsequently explained that “‘ an exception [to the Double Jeopardy Clause] may exist where the State is unable to proceed on the more serious charge at the outset because the additional facts necessary to sustain that charge have not occurred or have not been discovered despite the exercise of due diligence.'” Illinois v. Vitale, 447 U.S. 410, 420 n. 8, 100 S. Ct. 2260, 65 L. Ed. 2d 228 (1980) (quoting Brown, 432 U.S. at 169 n. 7) (emphasis added). In Vitale, the ct determined that the exception was inapplicable because the prosecutor knew of the additional facts necessary to sustain the subsequent prosecution at the time of the first prosecution. Id.

Virginia’s appellate cts have not previously applied the Diaz “impossibility” exception. We note that several other jurisdictions have considered its effect on subsequent prosecutions otherwise barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause. In particular, the Iowa Supreme ct has held that the Diaz exception permitted a defendant to be tried for felony murder after he had been convicted of felony child endangerment, even if felony child endangerment was a lesser-included offense of felony murder, because the victim died after conviction of the lesser offense. See State v. Ruesga, 619 N.W.2d 377, 383 (Iowa 2000).

Similarly, in Whittlesey v. Conroy, 301 F.3d 213 (4th Cir. 2002), a jury convicted Whittlesey of robbery, assault with the intent to rob, and theft all arising out of the 1982 disappearance of Griffin. At the time of these convictions, Griffin’s body had not been discovered. Upon discovery of Griffin’s body in 1990, the defendant was indicted for murder. In upholding the district ct’s denial of Whittlesey’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the Fourth Circuit concluded that Whittlesey’s subsequent prosecution for homicide did not violate his double jeopardy protections because the “facts necessary to sustain the charge of murder had not been revealed” at the time of the first prosecution. Id. at 218.

In the case before us, appellant had been previously charged with DUI in December 2004, when he was arrested and charged with DUI second offense in January 2005 in the same jurisdiction. The Commonwealth was aware of appellant’s previous December 2004 DUI conviction and de novo appeal to the circuit ct at the time of his prosecution on the January 2005 DUI second offense charge. Appellant’s trial de novo on the amended warrant charging DUI second offense after his acquittal of that offense by the district ct cannot be characterized as a subsequent prosecution for a new offense arising out of facts discovered after conviction, as was the case in Diaz, Ruesga, and Whittlesey. See also Vitale, 447 U.S. at 420 n. 8. Rather, the Commonwealth prosecuted appellant for the same offense as originally charged and tried in the district ct, and of which he had been acquitted. “For whatever else [the Fifth Amendment guarantee against double jeopardy] may embrace, it surely protects a man who has been acquitted from having to ‘run the gauntlet’ a second time.” Ashe v. Swenson, 397 U.S. 436, 445-46, 90 S. Ct. 1189, 25 L. Ed. 2d 469 (1970). Accordingly, the Diaz “impossibility” exception is inapplicable to the case before us.

From this record, we conclude the circuit ct erred in amending the warrant to charge DUI second offense after appellant had been acquitted of that charge in a ct of competent jurisdiction. We reverse the judgment of the circuit ct, set aside the conviction for DUI second offense, and remand for resentencing of the DUI first offense conviction. Reversed and remanded.