What is reckless driving in Virginia?
Reckless driving under Virginia statute is someone who drives his/her vehicle “on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.” VA Code § 46.2-862. To drive recklessly in Virginia is to have a “disregard for the driver of a motor vehicle for the consequences of his act and an indifference to the safety of life, limb, or property.” Powers v. Commonwealth, 211 Va. 386, 388, 177 S.E. 2d 628, 630 (1970).
- Reckless driving is automatically kicked in when you are either going 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit (ex: going 75 in a 55) or going above 80 miles per hour (regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit).
What are the maximum penalties for reckless driving?
Reckless driving in Virginia is classified as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. A class 1 misdemeanor holds the following maximum punishments:
- Fines: Class one misdemeanors carry a fine of up to $2,500. However, the actual amount you will end up paying will vary depending on your specific situation including but not limited to: your record, your speed, the judge hearing your case, and the local court policy.
- Jail Time: Active jail time is an allowable penalty for Class 1 Misdemeanor and it can be anywhere from 0-12 months. Jail time, much like the fines, will vary depending on your speed, your record, and the local rules. The higher your speed, the more likely jail time becomes.
- Suspended License: Many people who receive reckless driving tickets, also face a great risk of having their license suspended.
- DMV points: A reckless driving charge will give you 6 driving points for a Virginia license.
- Criminal conviction: Virginia does not allow for expungements on criminal conviction. In simple words, if convicted of the misdemeanor, you will not be able to remove it from your record ever. This can have affects in many areas of your life including immigration status, security clearance, and background checks for employment.
Should I pay my ticket/plead guilty?
Paying your ticket admits guilt and you will be convicted of a Class 1 Misdemeanor. You should consult an attorney to see the range of mitigating factors that can help you get a reduced punishment or charge reduction.
Should you get an attorney?
Yes, as mentioned, paying and pleading guilty for reckless driving admits guilt to a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Speaking to an attorney allows you to explore your specific circumstances surrounding your charge including but not limited to possible defenses, weaknesses in your case, reduced punishments, and even a reduced charge given your criminal and driving history.
The Law Office of Moore and Sripinyo is pleased to welcome a new associate, Farheena Siddiqui. Farheena is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles. She received her J.D. from The George Washington University Law School, where her internships ranged in different substantive areas of law including healthcare and civil and criminal litigation.
While at George Washington, Farheena participated in the Domestic Violence clinic and interned with Legal Aid, D.C. At the firm, Farheena’s practice is divided between criminal and civil litigation in courts across Northern Virginia.
Contact the office today to discuss any criminal and civil litigation needs or to set up an appointment for a consultation.
A Washington, D.C., jury acquitted the first six protestors who were tried in D.C. Superior Court related to the February 2017 Inauguration Day protests. Each of the defendants faced two criminal misdemeanor counts of engaging in a rioting, and conspiracy to riot, in addition to five criminal felony destruction of property counts.
This was a closely-watched case due to the important criminal and constitutional-law implications related to the charges. And with nearly 200 defendants facing similar charges in trials scheduled throughout 2018, this case was the trial balloon for both the prosecution and defense theories related to the Inauguration Day Protects in D.C.
You can read more about these acquittals here.
The Trump inauguration protest cases have been a year in the making but are finally reaching the trial phase in the D.C. Superior Court. Over 180 defendants face felony and misdemeanor criminal charges for their respective role in inauguration day protests and riots, which led to property damage and mass arrests.
The current wave of defendants are in the midst of the first in many trials that are scheduled to occur over the next nine months. The trials present an interesting look at the intersection between criminal law, the first amendment, and conspiracy liability.
For an interesting look at the current trial, read more here.
The axiom is that the “customer is always right.” But any business knows that this may be a sound policy to press upon employees, but it simply is not always practically or legally possible. Nor can every Virginia or Washington, D.C, business simply afford to accede to every customer demand.
In assessing how to handle a customer complaint–particularly as the complaint moves beyond cold coffee and into the realm of potential litigation–the business must know (1) what are its rights and obligations and (2) what is the practical consequence of the intended response to the customer.
Not every legally permissible option is a good long-term business decision. Growing businesses know all too well the danger of negative online customer comments and reviews, regardless of whether a complaint or review is accurate or whether the business has since remedied the issue. Conversely, not every practical option is legally permissible or wise. For example, the rush to address the customer’s concern may implicate other criminal and civil liability concerns down the road.
When deciding how to handle a customer complaint, a vendor dispute, the threat of a lawsuit, or other challenging Virginia or Washington, D.C., business concerns, contact experienced Virginia legal counsel to discuss all of your business’s options before rushing to action. A brief consultation with counsel to discuss an appropriate response and strategy may save countless hour and dollars down the road if the matter is not handled most effectively at the outset.
To discuss your business’s legal needs with knowledgable Virginia and Washington, D.C., business counsel, contact our office today.
As you grow your Virginia or Washington, D.C., small business into a thriving and successful enterprise, remember to take the time to legally protect what you have built. Like insurance, it is essential that you spend a prudent amount of the time and money to review your operation and ensure that you are properly protecting your assets, employees, vendors, and various other entities with which your business interacts. Your small business’s reputation and financial future may be at stake.
Here are some helpful reminders about many of the legal questions that your small business should consider on an annual basis:
- Entity type: Do you have the optimal Virginia or Washington, D.C., small business entity type? Sometimes the small business entity type that you initially formed–whether due to legal administrative ease or otherwise–is not the best business entity for your current business.
- Review your contracts: What do the contracts that you use on a daily basis actually say? Often closer review shows that your contracts do not say what you have always assumed that they do. This can be very costly when a dispute arises down the road.
- Non-compete agreements: Does your small business need to use non-compete agreements with its employees and contractors? Will the current non-compete agreement that you are using be enforceable? Does it matter?
- Employee legal grievances and lawsuits: Are you protecting your employees and your business from a employment law complaint? Plan ahead; don’t merely react.
- Choosing an attorney: Are you working with an attorney and law firm that serves your business’s needs?
These are just a few of the issues that you should continually review, rethink, and re-address as your small business grows. Contact the office today if you would like to discuss your Virginia or Washington, D.C., small business’s needs with an experienced and knowledgable law firm.
Preparing for your consultation with a litigation attorney
As an experienced Litigation Attorney, I am often asked a question which seems simple but isn’t: “Do I have a case?” Unfortunately, the answer to this is always complex. It is dependent on what happened, how you will prove it, what you want if you win, and whether it’s economically worth it to pursue a lawsuit. People often pick up the phone and start calling attorneys before they have these basic questions answered in their heads. They shouldn’t. Having the answers to these questions will help you explain your side and help the litigation attorney evaluate whether you “have a case.”
1. What happened?
The first thing you need to get clear in your mind is what exactly happened. This is the part that actually is pretty simple. Were you assaulted? Did you pay someone to build a deck and they did a bad job? Were you in a car accident? Whatever it was that happened, try to remember the details and write them down. And don’t just think about the event itself, try and remember what led up to the problem and what occurred after. If you have a written account, you can provide that to any litigation attorney that you consult.
2. How will you prove it?
An experienced litigation attorney knows that the old cliché that there are two sides to every story is true. If you’re considering suing, you need to think about what the other party is going to say as well as your side of the story. Also think about how you’re going to prove your side. Will there be objective evidence or will it be your word against theirs?
I always ask potential clients what evidence there might be to support their claim. Perhaps there are text messages, emails, or cashed checks. Nowadays, it is increasingly common for there to be audio or video recordings. If the dispute is primarily over a contract, then it should be obvious that a copy of the signed contract is a necessity. These things are important because they are objective. If the documents are proven to be real (or “authenticated” in legal terms), then there is little dispute about what they say. And they let a judge or jury come to a conclusion on their own.
If there isn’t objective evidence, then the case is simply your word against theirs. Although this type of case is easy to bring into court–because there is very little evidence to present–it is harder to win.
3. What do you want if you win?
It’s surprising, but people often don’t have an answer when I ask them what they would want if they win their lawsuit. Usually they just say “money.” That’s a given, of course. But the real question is, why do you think you’re entitled to money? Sometimes the answer is obvious. Other times, it isn’t. For example, if you paid a contractor to build a deck for you and they took your money and ran then you’d want the full amount back. But if they built a deck that you weren’t satisfied you might not want a full refund. You might want them to fix the parts you are unsatisfied with.
In some cases, the measure of damages can get murkier. Take an assault and battery case as an example. If someone hit you and you had to go the hospital then they might be responsible for reimbursing you for your medical bills. But are they also required to reimburse you for the pain and suffering that resulted from the assault? Maybe. The amount plaintiffs receive can vary greatly from case to case. Just like the question of whether you win at all, the question of how much you will recover will be based on what you can prove. How will you prove to the judge or jury that you suffered? These are all things that you should think about before consulting with a litigation attorney.
4. Is it worth your time and money to sue?
The final thing you need to think about is whether it is worth your time and money to sue. This is a purely economic question. Litigations costs money and the fees can quickly add up. I tell people quite frankly that if your argument is over a small amount of money, such as anything under $5000.00 then it is almost never worth it to hire an attorney. You should first try to settle the argument with the other party. If you can’t do that, then you can take them to small claims court. In Virginia, small claims court can handle any dispute where the amount of money in issue is less than $5000.00. A helpful pamphlet explaining small claims court procedures can be found here.
If your claim is for an amount greater than $5000.00 then it might be worth it to consider hiring a litigation attorney to handle your case. If you answers these questions for yourself before contacting an attorney, you’ll be well ahead of the game.
While it seems like a simple question, a contract’s terms are often overlooked until the parties are in the grips of litigation. Everyone has been through the process of initialing and signing a long contract full of boilerplate language that we all assume will never matter. But when a dispute arises, it is this fine-print language that has real-life consequences.
This is particularly true in business dealings; whether setting up a small-business operating agreement or entering into a long-term commercial lease, the language of the agreement and contract truly does matter. A responsible business cannot wait until the business is more established to take care of the details and it cannot simply sign and hope for the best.
Take the time now, before you face a conflict to review the terms of these contracts:
- Operating Agreement;
- Partnership Agreements;
- Employment Contracts;
- Commercial Leases;
- Insurance Agreements;
- Vendor Contracts;
- Client Agreements; and
- Any other contracts that your business enters into.
If you have any questions about your Virginia business’s or Washington, D.C., business’s contracts, contact the law office today to schedule an appointment.
Cross-examination is a key part of any contested trial. Good lawyers—like good song writers—must be good story tellers. Trial lawyers must tell a client’s story within the context and procedures of the trial. The opening statement lays out the story, foreshadowing what is to come. The witnesses and evidence support the story. And the closing statement serves as the “satisfying conclusion.”
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
When done right, cross-examination can help a lawyer elicit damaging admissions from the opposing party and tell their client’s story. When done wrong, a lawyer can do irreparable damage to their client’s case.
Doing it right requires only one thing: preparation. The lawyer doing the cross-examination must prepare themselves by examining in detail every statement that the witness may have made on the subject in question. Cross-examination questions should be carefully prepared and should not give the witness “wiggle” room to speculate. The goal should be for the cross-examiner to get in and get out.
On the flip side, a good trial attorney will prepare their client for cross-examination by helping them understand and exploit weaknesses in the examiner’s questions.
Cross-examination of Taylor Swift.
A good example of cross-examination gone wrong occurred last week in Taylor Swift’s civil trial in Denver, Colorado. The trial centers around allegations made by Ms. Swift that David Mueller, a Denver area radio host, inappropriately touched her during a June 2013 photo opportunity. Ms. Swift told Mr. Mueller’s employer that he grabbed her butt during the photo opportunity and they fired him.
In 2015, Mr. Mueller sued Ms. Swift claiming that she recklessly ruined his career with the false allegation. Ms. Swift countersued alleging that Mr. Mueller had reached under her dress and grabbed her bottom.
During trial, Ms. Swift was obviously well prepared for the witness stand. During cross-examination, she was able to score several points for her case when the opposing attorney asked some ill-advised questions.
One of Mr. Mueller’s key pieces of evidence was the photo taken during the photo opportunity. Mr. Mueller’s attorney asked Ms. Swift why the photo shows the front of her skirt in place and not lifted up if Mr. Mueller was reaching underneath to grab her butt. Ms. Swift quipped “[b]ecause my ass is located in the back of my body.”
Later, Mr. Mueller’s attorney asked Ms. Swift “how she felt” when Mr. Mueller’s employer fired him after the accusations. Again, she responded well. She explained “I didn’t have a reaction to a strange person I didn’t know losing his job…that was a product of his decisions, not mine.”
Both of these exchanges are great examples of proper preparation. Preparation that paid off. In the first case, Ms. Swift exploited an open-ended question to great effect. In the second, she avoided a victim-blaming question designed to elicit sympathy for Mr. Mueller.
Ms. Swift’s cross-examination helped her tell her story and prevented Mr. Mueller from telling his. We’ll see which side gets its “satisfying conclusion” in the future when the jury returns a verdict.
The President recently signed The Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 into law. Friend-of-the-firm Bill Aramony attended the recent bill signing at the White House. Bill has over 30 years representing employees and veterans, and he has a distinguished history of advocating for veterans. A number of the Act’s changes are noted below.
The bill amends Title 38 U.S.C. to improve the accountability of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. For Senior Executive discipline and removal, the bill allows advance notice, the ability to be represented by an attorney or other representative, and the ability to grieve the decision.
It gives 15 business days to process a disciplinary action, inclusive of 7 business days for the executive to respond to the proposed action. The grievance procedure is 21 days. The bill does not provide for review of SES discipline by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Non-SES Employees may be removed, demoted, or suspended for reasons of performance or misconduct.
The advanced notice and response period of 15 business days, with 7 days allowed for employee’s response to a proposal to remove, demote, or suspend.
MSPB appeal time is 10 business days (it was 30 calendar days). The burden of proof on the agency is “substantial evidence.” Before the agency’s burden was preponderance of evidence.
MSPB cannot mitigate VA chosen penalties. The bill supersedes any conflicting provisions of collective bargaining agreement(s).
The bill mandates that the VA institute whistleblower protections and a position of assistant secretary for accountability and whistleblower protection. The bill allows the VA Secretary to reduce the pension of a VA employee convicted of a felony that influenced job performance.
The bill also allows the VA Secretary to recoup any bonus or award paid to any employee engaged in poor performance or misconduct discovered after giving the bonus.
If you have any questions about the Act or about VA and other employment-related issues, contact the office today. Or contact Bill Aramony at 703-299-8496.