Thursday, January 24, 2013

Consequences of failing to follow a court order

In Virginia, there are a variety of consequences that may result from failing to follow a court order.  These consequences vary in large part, depending on the type of court order (criminal, custody, child support, etc.).  Therefore, the consequences discussed below are discussed as consequences generally.  You should consult an attorney regarding the specific court order at issue in your case.

1. The court may find you in contempt.  This could be a misdemeanor depending on the type of contempt found.

2.  After finding you in contempt, the court may order you to pay a fine.  Keep in mind this is ANOTHER court order that must be followed.

3.  The court may order you to do specific things (this is more common in family law cases and criminal cases), such as serve additional time in jail/prison, communicate with your ex-spouse only via email, etc.  This can vary quite a bit.

4.  After finding you in contempt, sentence you to either a period of time in jail (up to 12 months) or hold you in jail until you comply with the court order.

There may be additional consequences you will face depending on your court order.  However, these are common consequences.  Court orders are important and are put in place for a reason; they should be followed and you may face serious consequences if you decide to disobey the order of the court.  Again, contact an attorney to discuss your matter in further detail. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Determining custody in Virginia

In Virginia, we have a standard called the best interests of the children for determining custody.  This means when a court has custody before it, whether it's through a divorce proceeding or otherwise, the Court must look at what the best interests of the children are before they determine the custody and visitation arrangements.

Now the question is, what does "best interests of the child" mean?

Virginia has a statute setting out what factors should be considered in determining the best interests of the children.  The Courts MUST consider all of the following factors: age and physical and mental condition of each child, age and physical and mental condition of each parent, the relationship between the child and the parent, the needs of the child, the role that each parent has played and will play in the upbringing of the child, the propensity of each parent to promote the relationship between the child and the other parent, the ability and desire of each parent to maintain a close relationship with the child, the preferences of the child, if reasonable and appropriate, any history of family abuse and any other factor the court deems necessary.

These factors, theoretically, should provide an overall picture of the child's life and environments with both parents.  Custody is always a difficult issue; however, I hope this provides some insight into what a judge takes into account when deciding the custody arrangement for your children. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sentencing in Virginia

Sentencing in the world of criminal defense always seems to be somewhat convoluted.  In Las Vegas, there are many people, aside from celebrities who make the news, who are being released from jail/prison after serving only a fraction of their sentence.  Many people are released on parole after a certain amount of time served.  It seems it is impossible to predict how much time a person will actually serve. 

In Virginia, parole was abolished in 1995.  For people who committed offenses prior to January 1, 1995 they may still be eligible to be released on parole.  However, for those who committed offenses after January 1, 1995, there is essentially no possibility of parole. 

In exchange for abolishing parole, Virginia enacted something called Truth in Sentencing.  This provides a somewhat more standard procedure for determining how much time people will actually serve.  Based on this, everyone convicted of a misdemeanor is required to serve AT LEAST 50% of the time to which they were sentenced.  Similarly, everyone convicted of a felony is required to serve AT LEAST 85% of the time to which they were sentenced.  These times are typically calculated by the jail or prison and the actual amount of time served may still vary somewhat. 

Due to Virginia's Truth in Sentencing and the abolishment of parole, it is significantly easier to predict how much time someone will serve for a crime.  Remember to always contact an attorney for legal advice regarding any sentence you may be facing.