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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Recent Case Aids VA Lawyers With Suspended License Defenses

On January 11, 2008, the Virginia Supreme Court reversed the conviction of an individual charged with driving a motor vehicle after being declared a habitual offender in violation of Va. Code § 46.2-357. In the case Bishop v. Commonwealth, the Virginia Supreme Court carefully scrutinized the DMV transcript that was presented as evidence by the Commonwealth Attorney to prove that the Defendant had actual notice of being declared a habitual offender.

The Supreme Court found the DMV transcript lacked proof of actual notice. Of interest to criminal defense attorneys was the Virginia Supreme Court’s view of an entry on the DMV transcript that read “Notified: 2001/03/10 by law enforcement.” This is the type of entry that prosecutors in Northern Virginia routinely rely upon to obtain convictions for driving on suspended and revoked licenses. In Bishop, the Supreme Court stated that this entry “does not specify the content of any notification … provided … and does not identify the person, agency or entity that constituted ‘law enforcement’.”

After reading the Bishop decision, attorney Jeffrey S. Romanick commented that he was pleased that the Virginia Supreme Court emphasized some of the basic principles upon which our criminal justice system relies. Mr. Romanick intends to cite the language included by the Court to emphasize the high standards of proof required at criminal trials. The Court made a point to state the following: (1) “It is elementary that the burden is on the Commonwealth to prove every essential element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt”; (2) “In a criminal case, the defendant is entitled to an acquittal, unless his guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt”; (3) “Because of the stringent standard of proof the law imposes upon the prosecution, [finders of fact] must acquit unless they find each element of the crime charged to have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt”; and, (4) [T]he Due Process Clause protects the accused against conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime which he is charged”.

The attorneys at Gross & Romanick, P.C. are dedicated to staying at the forefront of new case law and innovation in the Courtroom. By carefully staying abreast of the latest decisions handed down by the Appellate Courts of Virginia, the law firm of Gross & Romanick, P.C. can immediately incorporate new case law into new defenses for their clients at the trial court level. Bishop is an example of the type of case that the lawyers of Gross & Romanick, P.C. can utilize, not only in traffic court for suspended license cases, but in every criminal case in which it is necessary to emphasize that the concept of reasonable doubt remains a cornerstone of our justice system to protect the rights of our citizens.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Foreclosure Evictions

The subprime mortgage crisis and slowing economy mean that more and more homeowners are facing foreclosure. These foreclosures present a real opportunity to purchase real property at a good price for personal use or for investment. However, many people buying foreclosed homes, townhomes and condos are finding that the previous owners refuse to vacate the premises. Most states, including Virginia, do not allow self-help evictions and many of these former owners will not leave until the sheriff under a court order supervised the actual eviction. Foreclosure evictions must be done properly under the law and can be tricky to negotiate. Not following the proper court rules and the law can cause significant delays in securing the right to occupy your purchased property; and, if you break the law, you may find that the previous owner will sue you. Therefore, you should consider having an experienced landlord/tenant law firm handle the eviction process. The law firm of Gross & Romanick, P.C. has represented landlords and tenants since 1980 and knows how to accomplish an eviction by the most efficient means. For a free consultation, contact Gross & Romanick at 703-273-1400 or send an e-mail to law@gross.com. Please visit our website at http://www.fairfaxbusinesslawyer.com/index.html.