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Roanoke Virginia Criminal Defense Law Blog

Understanding Virginia’s gun laws

Each state has its own laws and restrictions pertaining to the ownership of firearms. Virginia residents who have recently moved to the state, served time for a crime or wish to purchase or sell a gun may want to know the state’s specific laws on gun ownership.

Many residents are allowed to own guns in Virginia, explains FindLaw. However, certain restrictions or permissions are required. Residents must be over the age of 18 to buy a shotgun or rifle, or at least 21 to purchase a handgun. When buying a firearm from a licensed dealer, there is a one-day waiting period for law enforcement to conduct a background check. Those prohibited from owning a gun in the state include people convicted of felonies, those deemed mentally incapacitated or legally incompetent, people who were involuntarily committed and those who have protective orders against them.

Demerit and safe driving points in Virginia

If you hold a Virginia driver's license, you will want to know about the points that your record might accumulate for various actions and how these points might affect you. Some people may be unaware of how easy it is to amass a high number of negative points on their driving record.

As explained by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the state actually issues both demerit and safe driving points. Demerit points will be added after a violation and the number of points varies depending upon the citation reason. Safe driving points can be accumulated annually if no violations occur or if a driver's license is not placed under suspension.

Many sober drivers couldn't pass field sobriety tests

Field sobriety tests may be the main way that police determine if you are intoxicated behind the wheel, but that does not mean they're reliable or accurate.

The tests catch a lot of flak, despite their widespread use. Some say they're too subjective, simply letting an officer decide if you're impaired based on what he or she thinks, regardless of the facts. Others say that they are not even really necessary with the availability of breath tests. Still others point out that road hazards -- loose gravel on the side of the road or a slick surface after a heavy rain -- can make you fail them no matter what you have had to drink.

Expunging a criminal record in virginia

Facing the repercussions of any type of crime can make way for a long and tedious process. Depending on the case, those repercussions could last for months, and even many years. Virginia residents dealing with the effects of actions made a lifetime ago understand the severity of a criminal record. Not only can it can dangle above one's head in a number of situations; it can potentially threaten a person's reputation and overall quality of life.  

Fortunately for some Virginians, future changes among a number of bills could help waive criminal records through quicker procedures. ABC 8News reported in January that lawmakers in the state have begun to reconsider expungement regulations. House Bill 962, for example, would help those forced into prostitution waive past convictions. Subcommittee members subsequently turned these proposals over to the state's crime commission for further inspection. While this could slow down the process of these potentially modified bills, many Virginia lawmakers agree that the state's laws surrounding expungement are far too strict. 

One-leg stand test not 100% accurate

Do you know someone who has been arrested for  a driving under the influence offense in Virginia? Have you actually been charged with a DUI offense yourself? Whether you want to help and support a friend or family member or need to defend yourself against such a charge, learning about the different tests used during the arrest process will be important for you.

Many people might not know that the field sobriety tests used by officers are not always 100% accurate. According to, the one-leg stand test, for example, is said to have an accuracy rate of only 65 percent. Several things might contribute to your inability to pass this test even if you have not been drinking alcohol. One of these factors is excess weight. Persons who are 50 or more pounds over what is considered a recommended weight may naturally have problems balancing on one leg.

What it means to receive a speeding ticket in virginia

It is an age-old topic that tends to become more of an annoyance than a safety measure, and it can even produce anxiety among some drivers who travel in strict zones. Speeding limits work to keep all Virginia drivers safe on the road, but there is a difference between reckless driving and getting caught driving only slightly over the established limit.

Virginians currently facing speeding tickets might struggle to make required payments alongside other monthly bills. What are some tips to stay prepared in these situations, and what do state laws require drivers to do in order to make a clean driving slate? 

Undiagnosed diabetes could lead to a potential DWI charge

The American justice system offers everyone accused of a crime the ability to mount a defense against the charges. There is a presumption of innocence that protects citizens and has given rise to the popular term "innocent until proven guilty." However, for some people accused of crimes, the justice system and society seem to assume the individual is guilty.

People accused of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Virginia often feel like they can't fight the charges. Many law enforcement officials and even court staff seem to assume that a failed field sobriety test or a positive breath test conclusively prove someone has broken the law. In reality, however, both breath tests and field sobriety tests are as fallible as the person administrating them. One common medical condition could trick both tests and get some people into serious trouble.

The modification of america's gun laws

There are many topics of debate currently circulating throughout American politics, but one of the biggest points of contention involves gun laws. Naturally, recent horrific events involving guns have become highlights of conversation. Although the topic of gun rights is an incredibly serious issue today, the rights of those with a mark on their records seem to get placed on the back-burner. Will Virginians currently dealing with difficulties with gun rights see a potential change in future laws? 

One prominent aspect of today's gun debate is that of background checks. As ABC News puts simply, the National Instant Background Check System is an FBI-run organization that dictates someone's ability to purchase a gun. Established in 1993, the NICS runs checks in connection with the following systems:

  • The National Crime Information Center
  • The NICS Index 
  • The Interstate Identification Index

Determining if expungement is right for you

The words "criminal background check required" may cause you to give up on the application for a job or home in Virginia that you need. Although discrimination is illegal, checking public records to discover if someone has arrests or convictions is not, and the employer or landlord may use the information to deny you work or housing. We at the law office of Robert F. Rider PLC are often able to help people with criminal records to file for expungement.

Expungements are different from one jurisdiction to the next. In Virginia, not every record can be expunged, but in the case of dropped charges or a not guilty plea and verdict, you would be eligible. You could also be eligible to have your record expunged if someone else used your identity to commit a crime, or if you received a conviction, but you were pardoned later.

What is a nystagmus?

If you have ever been stopped by an officer while driving and eventually asked by the officer if you have consumed alcohol, you might find yourself questioned about your sobriety and fitness to drive. One of the things routinely done during a traffic stop that may turn into an investigation for suspected drunk driving is to have a driver perform certain tests or be evaluated for certain factors. The results of these things may then be used to support placing that driver under arrest.

As explained by, one of the tests used is called the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. A nystagmus is a type of jerking motion made by the eye that occurs naturally. It is said that after a person has been drinking, the jerking may be more pronounced. In order to check for the level of motion, an officer will ask a driver to fix their gaze on a certain item that is held about a foot away from the driver's face.

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