DUI - Facing Multiple Charges
After a particularly bad night, the defendant might find himself with a flurry of charges, including reckless driving, driving on a suspended license, driving under the influence, and refusal to participate in sobriety tests under the implied consent law. Many are familiar with the idea of double jeopardy, when a defendant shall not be placed in a position where he is forced to defend them-self twice against the same offense. With the list of offenses that I have provided above, you may be surprised to learn how little the procedural defense of double jeopardy will apply.
In Virginia, whenever facing serious criminal charges, a proper examination of the circumstance will require solid legal analysis. In order to avoid violating a defendant’s right against double jeopardy, each charge that he faces must represent a separate and distinct criminal offense. The offenses occur in the same action or different times. If either or any of the charges require a different element to be proven, they are not the same and may be collectively brought against the defendant. More simply, some additional fact must be presented for one charge, which is not required for the other. Of note, it is complicated; but, the Code of Virginia states that no one should be convicted of driving under the influence and reckless driving in the same case, on the same facts, i.e. the same single episode of driving behavior being used to convict one person of both crimes.
It is important to consider hiring a good local attorney for these types of matters. Going to court can be extremely stressful event on its own, a defendant facing multiple charges must want for themselves to have a complete understanding of the processes that are involved in, the trouble they are facing and the realistic outcome that may be expected. Knowledge of the local court in relationships with the prosecuting attorneys can often lead to successful results.