Whether accused of a misdemeanor or a felony, all criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. At a criminal trial, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged with the crime actually committed it. This is a very high standard of proof; the jury, or the judge in a bench trial, must have no lingering doubt or concern about whether the accused person is guilty. The main role of the criminal defense attorney is to question the sufficiency of the evidence and proof presented.

The stakes are often much higher in a criminal case than in a civil case, and the rules are different. A person who might be accused of a crime should never talk to the police without first consulting a criminal defense attorney, even if he or she is completely innocent, because any information revealed can be used to build a case against that person.

Misdemeanors and Felonies

Crimes can be divided into two general groups: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are considered less serious offenses, but they still carry significant penalties. Sentences for misdemeanors generally involve no more than 12 months in prison and/or a fine of $2,500 or less. Some common misdemeanors include petty theft, drunk driving, reckless driving, vandalism, and minor drug possession. Although the punishments are not as severe as for felony charges, a conviction for a misdemeanor can still profoundly impact your life.

Felonies cover a wide range of charges, including assault, grand larceny, sex offenses, murder, drug sales, and kidnapping. Felony sentences in Virginia are determined in accordance with statutory guidelines. These guidelines typically call for sentences greater than one year in prison, which may be accompanied by a number of other penalties, including probation, community service, fines, and mandatory classes in areas such as substance abuse or domestic violence. A felony conviction can also cause you to lose certain privileges, such as your driver’s license, the right to vote, and the right to own a firearm. You may also lose your professional license, be dismissed from public or government employment, or be removed from public office.

Defense Strategies For clients facing criminal charges, K.M. Khan Law employs a full range of legal defense strategies. For example, there may be a complete defense to the charges or one that can reduce the severity of the charge. Some defenses can negate an element of the crime. For example, to obtain a murder conviction under Virginia law, the prosecution must prove “intent,” a killing must have been “deliberate, premeditated, and willful.” If a victim was killed but there was no intent to kill, the charge may be reduced to involuntary homicide or manslaughter. Other defenses that depend on the accused’s state of mind are self-defense and the insanity defense.

Another substantive defense is the alibi defense; for example, it may be shown that a person charged with a crime was in another city at the time when the incident occurred. Finally, procedural defenses may be used if a case was not properly investigated under state and federal law or if the defendant’s constitutional protections were violated. Law enforcement officers must follow appropriate procedures when collecting evidence in a criminal case; if they do not, the prosecution may be unable to use that evidence against the defendant. For example, evidence seized during an improper search would not be allowed in court. The failure to provide the required “Miranda” warnings (informing an accused person of the right to remain silent and other rights) would make any statements made by the defendant to the investigating officer inadmissible at trial.

If you need representation for an upcoming criminal case, contact K.M. Khan law today.

Drug Offenses

Drug possession offenses are some of the most frequent charges brought within the Virginia criminal justice system. Charges involving the sale, distribution, or production of drugs are also common and are subject to harsh penalties, even as first offenses.

Marijuana Possession

A conviction for marijuana possession in Virginia can have serious consequences. In addition to the potential for up to 30 days in jail for a first offense, a conviction for marijuana possession can result in substantial fines and the loss of driving privileges. However, a convicted person may petition the court for a restricted driver’s license if compelling reasons can be shown, such as the need to drive to work or to attend substance-abuse treatment classes.

A person charged with a first offense of drug possession may also be eligible for the First Offender Program. This allows the person to undergo treatment and probation, which if successfully completed, would lead to the charge being dismissed.

Distribution and Sale of Controlled Substances

The penalties for selling, distributing, or manufacturing drugs are even harsher than those for possession. These offenses are felonies, resulting in heavy fines and prison sentences. A person convicted of distribution of certain controlled substances, such as heroin, may be subject to a life sentence in prison and a fine of up to one million dollars.

People who are arrested with a large quantity of narcotics or who carry a significant amount of drugs across state lines will receive harsher sentences. Individuals arrested for a drug charge while in possession of a weapon, or those who already have a prior conviction for a drug offense, can also expect to receive more substantial fines and penalties.

If you have been charged with a drug offense, contact K.M. Khan Law today.

Theft and Fraud

Numerous laws exist in the Virginia code relating to theft, embezzlement, and fraud.


Depending on the value of the merchandise taken from a store or other retail outlet, the quantity of items taken, and how the items were removed, shoplifting charges can be grouped into three categories:
• Petit Larceny (theft of items or money with a value below $200)
• Grand Larceny (theft of items or money with a value more than $200)
• Larceny with the Intent to Sell and Concealment of Merchandise

Other Larceny Charges

Fraud and larceny are serious charges, and most are considered felonies. The categories include:
• Embezzlement
• Obtaining Money by False Pretenses
• Identity Theft
• Forging a Public Document
• Credit Card Fraud
• Credit Card Theft
• Credit Card Forgery

If you have been charged with a crime involving theft or fraud, contact K.M. Khan Law today.

Violent Crime

Assault and Battery

In Virginia, misdemeanor-level Assault and Battery (physical threats and violence) can be punished by up to 12 months incarceration in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. A person convicted of such a crime may also have to pay restitution to the victim. The penalties will be increased if the person assaulted was a police officer or schoolteacher, or if the victim was targeted because of his or her race, religion, or ethnicity. The most common form of Assault and Battery charged in Virginia is Domestic Assault (Domestic Violence).

A conviction for Domestic Assault or Assault and Battery remains on a person’s criminal record for life. The conviction may also jeopardize a person’s employment and security clearance, as well as restrict the right to possess firearms. A criminal conviction for domestic violence can affect child custody issues in family law cases, and for non-citizens, result in denial of citizenship or deportation from the United States.

Felony Violent Crimes

The following crimes are considered felonies and may result in long prison sentences:
• Violent Crimes not related to sexual assault
• Unlawful Wounding
• Malicious Wounding
• Aggravated Malicious Wounding
• Robbery
• Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer
• Third Offense Domestic Assault
• Malicious Wounding by Mob
• Murder
• Manslaughter and Involuntary Manslaughter

Sexual assault crimes are also considered to be violent crimes with enhanced penalties:
• Sexual Assault Felonies
• Sexual Assault upon a Minor
• Animate Object Penetration or Inanimate Object Penetration
• Forcible Sodomy
• Rape If you have been charged with a crime involving violence, contact K.M. Khan Law today.

Probation Violations

After a person has been convicted of a crime, a fine and/or jail sentence will be imposed by the court. However, in certain cases, some of these penalties – or even the entire sentence – may be suspended for a set period of time (“probation”), subject to specific conditions. These conditions generally require the convicted person to demonstrate good behavior, with no further criminal violations, and to satisfy other stipulations such as drug and alcohol testing.

Being accused of violating probation can be a frightening situation for many people. The risk of incarceration may be much greater than at the original trial or hearing. Additionally, the court may impose a jail sentence that is significantly longer than the original term.

An effective defense strategy must be used to convince the court to grant a probation violator another chance. This involves steps such as filing a motion to set or reduce bond, as well as seeking support from probation officers, counselors, family members, and employers. As your attorney, K.M. Khan Law will stand by you throughout this process and help ensure the best possible outcome.

Expungement of Criminal Records

“Expungement” is a process that removes information about an arrest and corresponding criminal charge from the public record. This procedure can be very valuable if you are seeking a new employment opportunity or a security clearance. However, Virginia only allows for the expungement of records in very limited cases. You are entitled to ask for expungement if you have been found “not guilty” of the criminal charge in question by a judge or jury, or if the charge was dismissed by the Commonwealth. You may also petition the governor of Virginia for a full pardon, which can then be used as the basis for an expungement.

In keeping with this, if you plead guilty to a lesser offense, you are not eligible for expungement. The court may also impose certain conditions before dismissing a charge, such as attending treatment classes or paying restitution to victims. This type of arrangement is common for first offenders in cases involving marijuana possession, domestic or simple assault, or shoplifting. Unfortunately, such a dismissal of charges with imposed conditions remains on the public record and is not eligible for expungement.

Even if the requirements for an expungement are met, it is not a right and must still be approved by the court. Factors such as a person’s previous criminal history and the period of good behavior will be considered before an expungement is granted.

If you believe you are entitled to an expungement, K.M. Khan Law is here to help. Call today for a no-cost, confidential consultation.