Nationwide Pimp Bust

The FBI recently conducted a nationwide human trafficking operation that arrested 153 alleged pimps. Five of these pimps were residents of Virginia Beach and have been charged with sex trafficking with the intent to receive money. Additional charges that some of the five faced included receiving money from minors who were involved in prostitution, aiding in prostitution, and maintaining a bawdy place. All of those charged have a criminal history and except for one, every suspect has pled guilty to the charges. The five suspects could also be charged with crimes involving fake currency, firearms, and drugs, all of which were found at the scene.

The trafficking victims in Virginia Beach were 16-17 years old and were rescued from the Econo Lodge on Northampton Boulevard. One of the sixteen year olds was able to escape from the hotel, which is what allowed for the FBI to conduct the bust.

What Constitutes Prostitution in Virginia?

According to §18.2-357 of the Virginia Code, prostitution occurs when a person receives money for committing a sexual act. The earning can be in the form of money or other valuable item such as jewelry.

What are the Penalties for Prostitution?

A person who is charged and convicted of prostitution involving a person over the age of eighteen will face a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by two to ten years in jail and a fine of up to $100,000. While a person charged and convicted with prostitution involving a person eighteen or younger will face Class 3 felony charges that may result in a prison sentence of five to twenty years and a fine not exceeding $100,000.

How Does Human Trafficking Differ from Prostitution?

The difference between what one might consider typical prostitution and human trafficking is that human trafficking involves persuading, encouraging, or forcing a person to commit an act of prostitution. A person who is a victim of human trafficking does not have the option of not performing the sexual act. Some prostitutes choose to live such a lifestyle and choose to work for a pimp.

Pimps involved in normal prostitution rings pimps involved in human trafficking rings can both face the same felony charge depending on the victims’ ages.

Do You Need Legal Help For A Recent Sex Crime Charge?

If you have recently been charged with a sex crime in Virginia, you should contact a criminal lawyer who has prepared sex crime defenses in the past. Jad Sarsour has effectively defended those charged with sex crimes and will do what he can to ensure that your constitutional rights are protected. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.

Tightening Up Virginia’s Gun Laws

Virginia is no stranger to gun violence. One of the most tragic gun massacres occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007. The governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, signed an executive order this week that is aimed at tightening up Virginia’s gun laws. The new laws make it illegal to openly carry guns in certain state-owned buildings. The Attorney General and US Senator Tim Kaine supported the order. The governor has tirelessly worked to advocate for stricter gun laws in a Republican-controlled General Assembly.

Prosecution of Gun Crimes

The governor’s order has also taken proactive steps in preventing gun crimes from occurring. Some of these initiatives aimed at preventing further gun crimes include:

The creation of a Task Force that has been put in charge of prosecuting gun crimes in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Task Force will also work to prepare a list of areas in the law that prevent law enforcement officials to prevent the sale and purchase of illegal weapons and how the law can better address these issues;

The establishment of a hotline where civilians can call in tips on people who are committing gun crimes; and

The fact that now police must request a trace of any gun that is used to commit a crime in Virginia.

These actions are not meant to prevent a person from exercising his or her second amendment rights but to help enforce gun laws that are meant to keep guns out of those who plan on using them for harm.

What Does This Mean for Gun Owners?

The purpose of this executive order is to help better enforce already existing gun laws. This law is not meant to take guns out of the hands of people who legally own them. When the governor signed the executive order, he also announced certain legislative proposals that he would like to see in the Commonwealth of Virginia. These legislative proposals include preventing violent criminals, stalkers, and domestic abusers from legally obtaining a gun as well as conducting universal background checks on every person who is interested in purchasing a weapon. The governor has announced that he will continue to work to keep guns out of the hands of those who mean to use them to do harm and will introduce gun control legislation in the upcoming session. If you are interested in reading the executive order, it is entitled Number Fifty (2015) Executive Action to Prevent Gun Violence.

What Does This Mean for Me?

If you are a gun owner who would like to know more about how these new laws will affect your or if you have been charged with a gun crime in Virginia, a criminal attorney who has worked on prior gun crime cases and stays up to date on the evolving law can answer any questions that you may have. Jad Sarsour is an experienced criminal defense attorney who has worked on numerous cases involving gun law. If you are interested in setting up an appointment with Mr. Sarsour, you should contact our office by calling  703-385-6868.

Reckless Driving Can Land You in Jail

Robert Griffin Jr., the father of Robert Griffin III (the quarterback for the Washington Redskins) was charged and convicted of reckless driving. He will serve 10 days in jail in Hampton, Virginia for driving 115 mph on Interstate 64. This is almost twice the legal limit, which is 60 mph. Although he pleaded not guilty, a Hampton judge found him guilty and sentenced him to 60 days in jail. Since 50 days were suspended, Griffin will only serve 10 days in jail on the weekend for 5 weeks. The Virginia legislature takes reckless driving very seriously and a person found guilty will be subjected to a Class 1 misdemeanor.

What is Reckless Driving?

Reckless driving is when a person drives in a manner that creates a dangerous situation for other drivers and pedestrians on the road. Under the Virginia code, reckless driving includes driving in a manner that creates a dangerous situation for another’s property, limb, and most importantly life. A person could face Class 6 felony charges for reckless driving under two circumstances.

If the person was driving without a valid driver’s license because it was either revoked or suspended.

If the person who was recklessly driving ended up killing another person.

Since the consequences of reckless driving can be so serious, the Virginia Legislature requires that those who are guilty be punished accordingly.

What are Virginia’s Harsh Penalties for Reckless Driving?

When a person is convicted of driving recklessly, they will be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor is the most severe of the misdemeanor classes. Every person convicted of this crime will be required to pay a mandatory minimum fine of $250. However, a person can be charged a fine up to $2,500 and/or a jail sentence of up to 12 months. The severity of the offense will determine the amount of money that a person will be charged. If a person is charged with a Class 6 felony then he or she may have to go to jail for between one and five years. If a jury is not deciding on a case than a person can be sentenced to up to a year in jail and/or forced to pay $2,5000. A person who is convicted of reckless driving will face either a felony or misdemeanor, which will stay on a person’s record. This is why it is important that a person charged is able to make an argument for why he or she should be found not guilty.

Have You Been charged with Reckless Driving?

If you are facing charges for reckless driving, it is essential to have someone represent you that is aware of the severity with which Virginia treats reckless driving. The Law Offices of Jad Sarsour is here to listen to your side of the story and try to prepare a defense that will protect you from having to serve a jail sentence. Contact our firm at 703-385-6868 to sent up a call with one of our client intake specialists. 

Stuck Behind Bars Without Bond?

Three men were charged with a shooting on Virginia’s Interstate 264 at around 1:40 a.m. A Ford Fiesta was believed to have been the make of the car from which the shots were fired. The car initially refused to stop, but when it finally pulled over the three men were taken into custody without incident. During the traffic stop, the troopers found two handguns in the vehicle. The driver was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, shooting from a motor vehicle, and driving while suspended while the two passengers were charged with shooting from a motor vehicle. The three men were taken to the Virginia Beach Jail where they are being held without bond

Without Incident

When a person is accused of a crime or arrested, regardless of whether he or she committed the crime, he or she will probably be confused and frightened and will not fully understand what is going on. In this case the three men were taken into custody without incident. This means that the troopers we able to arrest the three men without a warrant because they had probable cause to believe that they committed a felony. In this case the troopers will argue that the probable cause stemmed from the fact they knew they were looking for a Ford Fiesta linked to the shooting and that the car did not pull over right away. An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to determine whether the arrest violated the defendants’ constitutional rights.

Held Without Bond

Virginia and the Constitution of the United States does not require the court to provide the right to bail in criminal cases. Bail is when a person is released from custody prior to trial. Many times the person is subject to specific conditions that he or she must abide by. A bond is what is posted prior to a person’s pre-trial release. The bond is a written promise to pay a specific sum as a condition of bail. In this case when it says that the men were held without bond, it means that a bail has not been set. In Virginia, a court can not post an excessive bail or subject the accused to unusual inflicted punishments. The whole point of bail is to enable a person to stay out of jail unless he or she is ultimately found guilty. However, there are circumstances that make a judge more likely to hold someone without bond. For example, if a person is considered a flight risk or a danger to society, a judge will probably not release him or her on bond.

Assert Your Sixth Amendment Right

If you are charged with a criminal offense, under the sixth amendment you have the right to counsel from an attorney. An Attorney like Jad Sarsour can help you understand your claims and make sure that you do not agree to a plea that will end up causing more harm than good. Contact our firm at 703-385-6868 so we can help you understand your options and potential defenses that are available.

Virginia Campus Assault Laws – Who’s Protecting You?

Hannah Graham was a University of Virginia student who vanished after going out to dinner and two college parties with friends. The man charged with her murder was a suspect in two other sexual assault cases on college campuses, but was never convicted. In response to the amount of sexual assault on college campuses, the Commonwealth of Virginia passed a series of sexual assault laws meant to protect sexual assault victims on college campuses and prevent further sexual assaults. These new laws expand how and when police may collect DNA evidence from a suspect. It also lists nine more adult misdemeanors under which a convicted adult must provide DNA to the state’s data bank upon conviction. These laws are in intended to help catch those committing assaults on campus.

The New Sexual Assault Laws

In addition to the sexual assault laws that expand DNA collection, Virginia also passed the Hannah Graham Law. This law requires that when a sexual assault investigation takes place at a school, a police officer and local prosecutor must participate. Prior to these new laws, Title IX required schools to promptly review and investigate sexual assault on campus. The legislature is hoping that by including law enforcement and local prosecutors, it will provide added pressure to solve sexual assault cases.

Another law on college campuses is Virginia’s Scarlet Letter Law, which requires Virginia colleges to place a mark on a student’s transcript if he or she has left the school or was forced to leave because of a campus sexual assault investigation. There are certain times when a school will be required to remove the notation from the student’s record. Those that oppose this law feel that it will not stop those that are looking to prey on students, and fear that these laws will do more harm than good.

Consequences for the Innocent

Virginia’s new sexual assault laws have not garnered support from everyone. Those that do not support the laws feel that they could have negative effects on those who are not serious offenders or who are innocent.

Have You Been Charged with Sexual Assault?

If you have recently been charged with sexual assault on a college campus then you need an attorney who has experience working with sexual assault cases and will make a concerted effort to stay up to date on Virginia’s expanding sexual assault laws that involve college campuses. Criminal Defense Attorney Jad Sarsour has worked to prepare defenses for those charged with sexual assault on a college campus. Contact our firm at 703-385-6868, so we can assist you with your legal issue today.