Criminal Defense Lawyer in Virgina Beach
Crimes in Virginia range from fairly minor to very serious, where life in jail is a real possibility. Regardless of how serious a crime is, the person facing charges should treat the situation as potentially life-changing. A person does not need to serve jail time to feel the true consequences of a criminal conviction, and even simply an arrest in some situations. It is an unfortunate reality that seemingly minor crimes can haunt the accused for years to come. Because so much is at stake when facing criminal charges in Virginia, whether the crimes are misdemeanors or felonies, it is imperative that accused individuals work alongside an attorney to fight and defend their rights and interests.
At Hardt Law, P.L.L.C., Virginia Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Patricia Hardt is known for going to trial to defend her clients. With eleven years of experience as a litigator and trial attorney, Attorney Hardt’s first step is not to negotiate and reach a plea agreement for her clients but to investigate and obtain and analyze the evidence. She advocates for her clients until the end, and this year alone, Attorney Hardt won four rape trials, demonstrating her ability to convince a jury that her clients are innocent. Criminal charges should never be underestimated, and Attorney Hardt works diligently to help her clients reach the best possible outcome.
Criminal Law in the Commonwealth of Virginia
At Hardt Law, P.L.L.C., Attorney Hardt provides legal representation to clients facing criminal charges that include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Possession of drugs (schedule I, II, III, and IV)
- Possession of drugs with attempt to distribute
- Possession of schedule I and II drugs with firearms
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- DUI and manslaughter
- Assault and battery – Domestic Violence
- Probation violations
- Fraud (worthless check, credit card fraud, obtaining money by false pretense, uttering (putting forged money into circulation), computer fraud, and wrongful use of an identification)
- Possession of firearms by a convicted felon
- Destruction of property
- Completing a gun application with false information
There are additional crimes not listed above that Attorney Hardt may handle. As such, regardless of the crime, speaking with a Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney right away should be the first step following an arrest.
Serious Misdemeanors Under Virginia Law – Assault and Battery/ including Domestic Violence
Under Virginia law, assault and battery is collectively defined as an intentional harmful or offensive contact. Assault is the intent of causing harm, and battery is the actual physical contact. A person can be charged with assault without even touching another person if that person allegedly intended to cause bodily harm to another person. In Virginia, simple assault and battery is considered a class 1 misdemeanor, which has the potential to carry jail time, and is not a criminal charge to take lightly. The primary or first aggressor will be the person facing assault and battery charges. When there are aggravating factors, such as the intent to harm based on race, religion, or sex, the consequences can be even harsher.
Former Domestic Violence Prosecutor
Attorney Hardt focuses a significant portion of her criminal law practice on representing clients who have been charged with assault and battery. Many clients hire Attorney Hardt because of her extensive experience as a former domestic violence prosecutor. Attorney Hardt also handles high profile assault and battery cases, and many of Attorney Hardt’s clients reach out to her because of her experience and reputation. Assault and battery charges carry potentially significant consequences, as an arrest record and charge alone can prevent someone from getting a job, renting a home, or getting in to college, among others. This can be especially tragic for individuals who are never convicted.
What Happens Following Arrest?
Being arrested is traumatic and stressful. Speaking to the police without an attorney can be dangerous in that any statements made by the accused could be used against them at a later time. As such, the first step following arrest should always be to contact an attorney. After an arrest, a bond is issued or if not, the client will have a bond hearing. Bond is appealable, and an attorney can argue why the terms of the bond are not fair given the facts of the case.
After the initial steps of facing potential criminal charges following an arrest, a preliminary hearing is held in the General District Court to determine if there is sufficient evidence to bring formal criminal charges to trial in the Circuit Court. If a judge in the General District Court does believe enough evidence exists, the case will be set for trial in the Circuit Court, either before a judge alone (bench trial), or before a jury, depending on the particular situation.
However, at Hardt Law, P.L.L.C., the goal is not to plead out, but to fight until the end if at all possible. There will, of course, be situations where pleading to a lesser offense is the best option, but it should not be the first consideration. If a case ultimately goes to trial and an accused individual is found guilty, he or she can appeal that verdict to the Virginia Court of Appeals, and then to the Virginia Supreme Court if necessary.
In addition to representing her client’s rights at trial, Attorney Hardt represents clients in the appeal process if they are convicted and seek to have the conviction overturned. Attorney Hardt also helps clients seek expungement of prior criminal convictions as well as helping clients seek restoration of their gun rights. Attorney Hardt represents the rights of both adults and juveniles.
Mental Health and Criminal Law
A significant number of individuals charged with crimes in Virginia suffer from mental health conditions, many of which suffer from schizophrenia and other serious mental health issues. Attorney Hardt has represented the rights of numerous severely mentally ill clients, both as a public defender and as a private attorney. Clients with mental health conditions are in desperate need of legal representation as these clients may have no control over their condition. Attorney Hardt works with private doctors who can do forensic evaluations of clients and who can offer post incarceration solutions to assist with the client’s mental health issues so as they do not go untreated and find themselves back within the justice system. Attorney Hardt also has experience working with incarcerated individuals with mental health conditions in local and state jails as well as mental hospitals, including, but not limited to Eastern and Central State Hospitals.
Why It is So Important to Speak with an Attorney, Even for Minor Crimes?
Attorney Hardt’s wealth of experience has shown her that even mild criminal conduct can change a person’s life forever. Attorney Hardt once prosecuted an individual for a domestic violence assault and a battery who while representing himself admitted to throwing a comforter at his spouse during an argument. The individual was convicted, and under Virginia law in combination with U.S. law, anyone convicted of a domestic assault and battery is barred from owning or possessing a gun forever unless they are pardoned. Such a harsh consequence does not seem fair, but the law must be applied as written, and throwing a blanket towards another person unwelcomed, is an unwanted touching which fits within the broad definition of assault. Risking conviction and a loss of constitutional rights can be devastating, so making the decision to work alongside Attorney Hardt can significantly increase your chances of having a better result than if you faced the criminal charges alone.
How Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. Can Help You Move Forward During a Difficult Time?
Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney Patricia Hardt uses her experience as a former domestic violence prosecutor to represent her clients’ rights to the fullest extent possible. Not every criminal defense attorney is a former prosecutor. Seeing the story from the other side is a unique perspective that helps Attorney Hardt stand out from the rest. It cannot be stressed enough that contacting an attorney as soon as possible following arrest is critical to successfully fighting criminal charges. Attorney Hardt’s reputation for winning at trial and not caving to negotiated pleas demonstrates her desire to give her clients the best result possible, putting their interests first, not her own. Attorney Hardt is licensed in Virginia, Washington D.C., Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. To schedule a consultation to discuss your situation with Attorney Hardt, contact Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. today by calling (757) 962-5588.