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Should the government be allowed to take away a non-violent grandma's guns?

Let's imagine that Granny above was a little bit wilder in her youth and ended up convicted of a felony. Maybe she snorted some coke. Maybe she shoplifted. Maybe she spray painted a neighborhood fence. Does that mean that she should lose the right to defend herself in her home for the rest of her life? While it sounds absurd, we do this to people every day. If someone is convicted of any felony in Virginia, they lose their Second Amendment rights indefinitely. It doesn't matter if the conviction had nothing to do with violence. It doesn't matter if the convictions are 40 years old. It doesn't matter if someone has led a perfect life since the conviction. The simple equation is fel

One Surefire Way to Lose Your Case

If you've been a criminal defense attorney for very long, you've suffered through your client destroying his own case by testifying. When it's happening, it feels like a razor sharp knife slowly twisting into your spine. The client who was calm, cool, and collected during preparation morphs into the picture above during cross-examination. Is there any way to avoid this scenario? I've had the benefit of talking to jurors after a number of my jury trials. One topic has dominated those conversations more than any other. In cases where my client didn't testify, it's usually the first thing that comes up. I've learned that most people think that if they were accused of a crime they didn't c

‘TIS THE SEASON (TO GET ROBBED).

I spent a dreary December morn neglecting my family and looking at crime statistics. Specifically, the data compiled by the good folks in the Virginia State Police’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. In my search for holiday cheer, I found an interesting stat about robberies. Apparently December has more robberies than any other month. There was a whopping 24% increase from the month of Jan 2016 compared to December of the same year (522 compared to 394). There was a steady uptick from October to December. Robbers were far less productive during all the other months of the year. Another interesting stat was the time of day that robberies occur. By far, most happened between 8 and 10 pm

What happened to jury trials?

As the video above demonstrates, jury trials in Virginia are extremely rare (make sure to turn on the captions). In fiscal year 2017, a staggering 91% of felony sentences were the result of guilty pleas, 8% were convictions after bench trials, and 1% were the result of convictions after jury trials. So what gives? Aren't jury trials supposed to be important? The founders evidently thought so since they put it in the Bill of Rights. The reason that jury trials have nearly gone extinct is simple. Jury sentencing. Virginia is one of the only states in the country with a jury sentencing system. Only 5 other states - Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas - currently use jury sen

Biggers, B.S. Identifications, and How to Fix It

Eyewitness misidentification is nasty stuff. It's the leading cause of false convictions by far according to the Innocence Project. Of the 16 DNA exonerations in Virginia, eyewitness misidentification played a role in 13 of the bad convictions. It's a similar story all over the country. In fact, eyewitness misidentification played a role in more than 70% of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide. And it's fair to say that's only the tip of the iceberg since DNA evidence is only preserved in a tiny percentage of cases. The good news is that over two hundred documented instances of innocent people being being falsely convicted and thrown behind bars for decades has led to ou

The truth about lawyer advertising

Being arrested is a scary experience. The next step can be equally frightening. How do you find the right person to represent you in court? If you google "criminal defense attorneys in fill in the city," you're going to see a lot of results. Some of the attorneys appearing on your screen will be excellent. Some will be far less than excellent. The lawyer fresh out of a bottom tier law school and the seasoned courtroom veteran with decades of trial experience often look the same in a google result. How can you tell the difference between the real deals and the poseurs? As I discussed in a previous post about how to find a good defense attorney, it takes work to find the right criminal