Tuesday, September 15, 2015


DUI and other serious traffic offenses can have long lasting consequences both direct and indirect. They may include: fines; costs; loss of driving privileges; jail, points against your license; increased insurance rates; loss of security clearances and other effects that may jeopardize your job or income. Described below is a DUI/DWI offense with potential outcomes, as well as a summary of what the Law Office of Michael S. Davis may be able to provide in defending you in this situation. No lawyer can guarantee a particular outcome but, many times proper representation can provide affirmative defenses, reduced charges or lessor penalties.


There is no difference in Virginia between these two offenses; they are simply two separate names for the same offense. Any blood alcohol content (BAC) above .08 is considered presumptively intoxicated as well as certain amounts of illegal drugs and in some cases even legally prescribed drugs. Because these offenses have gotten the attention of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and other organizations, the legislature has drastically increased the penalties for these offenses in recent years.

DUI/DWI is a class one misdemeanor with maximum penalties of up to one year in jail, up to a $2500 fine, enrollment and completion of the Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) and a one year loss of license. You may or may not receive a restricted license by the judge. In addition there is a recent requirement that an Interlock devise be installed for use in every car you drive before you can drive on a restricted license.

In addition, if your BAC is between .15 and .20 there are additional penalties including a mandatory five (5) day jail sentence. For a BAC above .20 there is additional jail time of ten (10) days. These penalties are enhanced even further if this is a second offense, and on a third or subsequent offense, the matter is elevated to a felony with significantly more severe penalties.

There are a number of defenses to this charge, and each case requires individual attention to the specific facts involved. Among some of the major defenses are the legal reason for the stop, probable cause for the arrest, proper testing of breath or blood, field sobriety testing, DWI checkpoints and others. These are not straightforward issues that can easily be handled without the benefit of an attorney.

In many cases, this charge can be successfully defended, reduced, or otherwise amended to improve the outcome. It is highly recommended that a person charged with this offense at the very least consult with a qualified attorney who regularly handles these types of cases.

Let Attorney Michael S Davis review your case with a freeconsultation to determine the benefits he may be able to provide for you. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

About the Courts - Virginia

All Virginia and federal courts are bound by law to apply rules of procedures and evidence to each case it hears. These procedures are applied uniformly, without regard to personal considerations. It should be noted that the State and Federal Courts apply different rules. Judges are sworn to enforce without favor the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia or federal law. Even minor traffic offenses and criminal charges can have significant consequences for those charged. You as a defendant have rights guaranteed through both the Constitution of Virginia and the United States. Among these are the right to be represented by competent counsel to assist you with advice and to represent you in any proceeding. The laws and procedures of the courts are complicated and penalties can be severe. It is the goal of the Law Office of Michael S. Davis to provide representation that is of the highest professional standard and to protect your rights and avail you of any defenses that may be available to you.

THE JUVENILE AND DOMESTIC RELATIONS COURT: generally controls cases that involve juvenile offenders in traffic and criminal cases. It handles traffic, misdemeanor, and felony charges with defendants under the age of 18 years, and in some cases retains jurisdiction of defendants until the age of 21. In some serious cases, this court may turn cases over to the Circuit Court if the juvenile is going to be certified as an adult. 

This court also handles cases of crimes involving family members such as domestic assault. These can be adults as well as juveniles and can involve non-family members who are living together. Those adults who are charged with felony cases in this court will have their cases transferred to the Circuit Court after the case reaches a certain point. 
Cases in this court are handled by a judge. If you require a jury trial these cases must be appealed or transferred to the Circuit Court. 

THE GENERAL DISTRICT COURT: generally controls traffic cases and misdemeanor criminal cases involving individuals 18 years and older. It additionally handles adult felony cases until they have been certified to the Circuit Court for disposition. As with the Juvenile Court, these cases are handled by a judge and require an appeal to the Circuit Court for jury trials. 

THE CIRCUIT COURT: generally controls felony cases that have been certified by the General District Court or in cases where there has been an indictment handed down by the Grand Jury. This court can offer clients a trial by a judge (Bench Trial) or a jury trial. This court also handles all misdemeanor appeals and can offer a client a jury trial on those cases as well. 

THE VIRGINIA COURT OF APPEALS: This is the first Court in the appellant process for felony criminal cases or for misdemeanor cases that have already been determined by the Circuit Court. This court has the option of whether to hear a given case or not. If the court believes that a case merits an appeal, the case may be sent there for a possible reversal of an unfavorable verdict. It has the ability to reverse the conviction or to remand the case back down to the Circuit Court for a new trial or other disposition. Generally, the client does not appear directly in this court. Appeals are handled by Petition and Oral Arguments by attorneys unless the client is representing himself or herself 

THE VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT: This is the highest court in Virginia. It is the court of last resort that has the final word on a case, unless the case is to be appealed to the Federal Courts. This court also has the option of whether it wants to hear a particular case or not. This court has the same options available for disposition as does the Court of Appeals. Here too, the client does not appear directly in this court unless he or she is representing themselves. 

FEDERAL MAGISTRATE COURT: This is the equal of the General District State Court and handles misdemeanors committed on federal property and other crimes charged under federal jurisdiction. It functions very much as the state court. 

FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT: The Federal District Court handles federal felony cases after the preliminary hearing stage and is generally the trial court level for most crimes. As with the state court, you are afforded the right to a bench trial (Judge) or a jury trial to decide your case. 

4th FEDERAL CIRCUIT COURT: The Federal District Court is an appeals court and functions very much as the Virginia Court of Appeals. It is the first court to which an unfavorable verdict can be appealed. 

UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT: This is the court of last resort. The court decides cases with unfavorable outcomes in the Court of Appeals and only hears about 100 cases a year, and like the 4th Circuit only hears cases it wishes to hear.

At the Law Office of Michael S Davis, we would be happy to discuss your situation at no cost and help you determine your best course of action.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


By far the best thing you can do to assist your attorney is to contact him or her as soon as you feel there is a problem, or as soon as you have been charged with a crime.  There are many ways an attorney can head off trouble before it starts.  This may be to prevent you from making an incriminating statement to the police or give evidence against yourself.  It may be to assist you with determining if it is in your best interest to cooperate with the police and to arrange that if you do, the police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney will honor any agreement that you enter into.  There are many other advantages that may present themselves by contacting an attorney early that are specific to your situation. Even if none of these situations apply to your case, the sooner you contact an attorney the more time that he or she has to prepare a defense.  If you contact an attorney the day before court it leaves very little opportunity to prepare and do the necessary research that may be needed to resolve legal issues in your favor.

The second thing that you must do to assist your attorney is to open a dialog with your attorney and tell him or her everything that is going on with your case.  Your attorney is going to evaluate your situation and make recommendations about how the case should be handled.  If your attorney does not have a complete and true understanding of the facts and circumstances you cannot expect that the advice you get will be the proper course of action.  The last place an attorney wants to find out that the facts of your case are not as you have represented to him or her is in court.  By that time the damage is usually done and the only person who will suffer because of it is you.

Third, your attorney may advise you to do certain things or take certain actions that will improve your chance to be successful or to mitigate damage in your case.  It is your responsibility to cooperate in supplying documents such as driving record, bank statements, lists of witnesses with their contact information and so on.  Your attorney may also advise you to seek counseling or enter a program such as ASAP, driver improvement school, anger management or mental health treatment or one of many others.  If restitution is an issue you may be advised if at all possible to start making restitution payments.  Your attorney is not asking you to do these things arbitrarily.  Your attorney’s experience has provided him or her with the knowledge that these things can help your situation in the right circumstances.

Fourth, maintain contact with your attorney and make sure that your attorney has current contact information.  Some cases may continue for several months or longer.  During that time many clients move or change phone numbers.  In the course of a criminal case many issues arise that may require you to have repeated consultations with your attorney before court.  If your attorney contacts you, return his or her calls or letters promptly.

Also, if you have questions or concerns, you need to voice these concerns with your attorney.  The relationship with your attorney requires open and honest communications.  If you do not let your attorney know that you have concerns he or she cannot address them.  If you are not sure that your attorney is going to handle a case the way you want, or meet the goals that you expect, you need to discuss this.  Your attorney should not be offended by your questions and should welcome the opportunity to explain his or her position and obtain your input.

Finally, you must have realistic expectations about your case.  Not every case will result in a finding of not guilty.  If you are in a situation where there is overwhelming evidence of your guilt your attorney will certainly try to put you in the best position possible to get you through the criminal justice system with the most favorable consequences possible, but, if you expect to be found not guilty in these circumstances you will not be satisfied with your attorney, or any attorney for that matter.  The situation will be frustrating for you and your attorney.  

At the Law Office of Michael S Davis, we would be happy to discuss your situation at no cost and help you determine your best course of action.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Anyone charged with a crime whether minor or serious may need the services of an attorney. Many times people don’t want information about their case disseminated to employers, friends, family members or the public in general. Some cases involve sensitive or embarrassing information that could jeopardize your job, relationships or other aspects of your life.

It is important that you understand that when you consult an attorney you have certain protections known collectively as the Attorney-Client Privilege. What this means is that your discussions with your attorney are confidential and cannot be discussed with others. This includes your attorney speaking to family members, friends, employers or others that might have an interest in your case. Your attorney is also obligated not to discuss the matter with the police, prosecutors or others in the criminal justice system. Courts have been very protective of an attorney’s right not to reveal confidential information about a case.

As with every rule there are exceptions that you need to be aware of. The right to the Attorney-Client Privilege exists between you and your attorney. It does not exist between others. Many clients bring friends, relatives or parents to consultations. Although you have a right to have anyone present that you desire, you must understand that what is said during these consultations may be divulged by others present at the time. The attorney cannot control information released by third parties that you permit to be present. It is recommended in most circumstances that you conduct you consultations with your attorney without others present.

Attorney’s may share information about your case with staff members as needed to assist in preparing your case and may share certain information with other attorney’s to obtain second opinions or to assist in your defense. Staff members and associates understand the sensitive nature of the information about your case and know the importance of confidentiality. At some point your attorney may need to enter into negotiations with prosecutors or others on your behalf in order to resolve the case, but this is only done with your permission.

If you consult an attorney and determine that you do not want to hire that attorney to handle your case you should know that the attorney still has the obligation to maintain the Attorney-Client Privilege. If in the course of your case you determine to release your attorney and hire a new one your former attorney cannot release information about your case without your consent, even to the new attorney you have hired.

There is one aspect of your arrest that the attorney cannot control. Certain information about arrests are made public information. Arrest reports are made public through the police courts, and anyone looking can find out if your have been arrested. Court dates and proceedings are open to the public and posted online. This may lead to advertisements and solicitations coming through the mail from bondsmen, attorneys and others offering assistance, and depending on the case may even draw the attention of the press. Your attorney has no control in these areas and will not be in a position to prevent the dissemination of this information.

Attorney Michael S Davis is very aware of the sensitive nature of your legal affairs and strives to maintain the highest degree of confidentiality for his clients. He will respect and protect your privacy and make every effort to ensure your affairs remain private.

Contact the Law Office of Michael S Davis, we would be happy to discuss your situation at no cost and help you determine your best course of action.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Federal and State Courts

If you are charged with a crime or traffic offense you may be arrested by State authorities or you may be charged in the Federal system. The system you have been charged in makes a great deal of difference to your case. Some attorneys and law firms are comfortable working in one or the other of the two systems, but not all are equally as comfortable working with both. The rules that govern each court system are different, as well as the laws themselves and the penalties each imposes. In addition each works on a completely different schedule and provides for procedures that are unique to each Court.

The Federal Courts generally have jurisdiction over any federal statute such as bank robbery or interstate crimes. They also have control of all crimes and traffic violations committed on any federal property such as military bases and other federal installations. As a general rule the penalties for violations of federal law are more severe, including; higher fines, harsher jail sentences, increased probationary requirements and other consequences.

The procedures used to prosecute federal cases move at a faster pace. Usually, your first appearance in Federal Court happens within a few days of an arrest. Decisions about your situation must be addressed quickly and require an attorney who has experience in that system. Most cases in Federal Court are resolved within three to six months from the time of arrest.

In serious cases, bond is difficult to obtain and many people are held in jail without bond. In addition, the federal system uses a set of sentencing guidelines to help determine what sentence you will receive if convicted and these guidelines require a great deal of skill to compute. It is essential that your lawyer have experience with dealing with the federal guidelines in order to give you a better understanding of what consequences you may be faced with if convicted and allow you to make informed decisions about the conduct of your case.

The Federal Courts also require that almost all paperwork regarding your case to be filed through a fairly new system of electronic filing. Not all lawyers are qualified in using the electronic filing system. The Federal Courts require lawyers to be specially certified in electronic filing to practice in their courts.

The State Courts are somewhat more forgiving, and move at a slower pace. Often even minor cases can take four to six months to be resolved. This gives both you and your attorney a greater opportunity to discuss the case and determine what the best course of action may be for your particular circumstances. More serious cases take even longer, and it is not unusual for a felony to require a year or more to resolve.

The State Courts also have a sentencing guidelines procedure that assists in determining what potential sentence you may receive if convicted but this system is much less complicated than the one used by the Federal Courts. The State system is also a voluntary system that judges use as a guide but not as a requirement when determining sentences.

State cases usually do not resist an accused being placed on bond except in serious violent cases, and even in those circumstances they are more likely to grant bond than the Federal Courts. If convicted in State Court, sentences are usually not as severe as a similar offense would be treated in the Federal Courts.

Both court systems have different rules of evidence and procedures. It is important that your lawyer be comfortable working in the system where you are charged so that you may take advantage of any opportunity available to you in the defense of your case. At The Law Office of Michael S. Davis, we are admitted to both the State and Federal Courts, and have a great deal of experience working in both systems, so that you may receive the best legal representation available and have the best possible outcome for your individual situation.

Contact the Law Office of Michael S Davis, we would be happy to discuss your situation at no cost and help you determine your best course of action.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Costs of Litigation

Most people understand that there are going to be costs to hiring an attorney to handle your legal matter. Generally there are three methods used by attorneys to receive payment. The first is a flat fee for service. What this amounts to is a quoted fee that will encompass all of the attorney fees for your case. These fees usually do not include appeals or additional appearances of your attorney for collateral matters not originally agreed to by your attorney. For example, if you are out on bond pending your case and you violate the terms of bond and are re-arrested and want to have your attorney go back into court and attempt to have you released, this is usually an extra fee. The second form of payment is an hourly rate. In some areas law attorneys will simply charge by the hour for their services. Generally this is not done in traffic and criminal matters. The third form of payment is through a contingency fee. This type of payment is usually reserved for cases in which civil damages are being sought and amount to a percentage of the award. Again, this form of payment is usually not applicable to traffic and criminal cases. At the Law Office of Michael S. Davis we strive to deliver quality legal representation at competitive rates. When hiring an attorney we will explain in full the fee you will be charged and why you are being charged that fee. You will also receive a written retainer agreement spelling out the terms of representation so that you have a full understanding of the services we will deliver on your behalf.

In addition to attorneys fees, there may be other costs associated with your case. Not every case will require all of these services and many will not require any, but, you should be aware of the possibility that additional costs may be required.

In cases starting in the General District or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court you may need the services of a Court Reporter. This is the person who records the testimony of the proceedings. Many cases remain in the General District or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and never proceed to the Circuit Court and therefore do not usually require a Court Reporter. Others both misdemeanor and felony start out in the General District Court and from there are transferred to the Circuit Court. Since the General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court are not courts of record (in other words, not courts where proceedings are recorded automatically and preserved) it is sometimes necessary to have a reporter there who can preserve your case for future proceedings. In some instances it is crucial to have a written record of witness testimony or procedural issues for later proceedings and appeals. Your attorney can explain the need for this if it applies to your case. There are generally two separate fees for this service. First there is a fee to record the proceedings. If it is necessary to obtain a written copy of the transcript there is a second fee involved. Fees vary depending on the case.

There may also be a need to retain the services of a private investigator. Investigators can be valuable in finding witnesses and interviewing people about events that took place in your case. Sometimes they can locate witnesses that were not previously known and have even been known to identify the actual suspect in the case if you have been wrongly accused. They can also go to crime scenes and provide photographs, measurements and other valuable information. Your attorney will be able to secure the services of trained investigators that can serve the needs of your case.

There are situations where the police may ask you to submit to a polygraph (Lie Detector) test. There are times when this might be advisable but it is seldom a good idea to submit to this test without first taking a test through a private operator to see what the results show. If they are favorable you can always submit to the police test. If not you can decline the offer of the police.

Experts are becoming more and more valuable for the defense. Toxicologists, doctors, auto accident reconstruction experts, computer experts,  DNA and blood experts and many others can provide valuable information in the area of forensic evidence as well as other specialized fields. These experts can assist your attorney in understanding scientific and technical aspects of the case. Attorneys cannot be completely proficient in every area of scientific and technical evidence and sometimes need an expert to better understand and present these concepts to a judge or jury. Experts often also testify in these cases educating judges and jurors on the issues by making them more understandable as well as rendering opinions that a judge or jury can consider in arriving at a verdict in your case. Unfortunately, experts are usually not cheap and depending on the area of expertise can be very expensive. Attorney Michael S. Davis is very conscious that you bear these expenses and will try to find the best qualified experts at the lowest possible cost to you.

Another cost that must be considered in some cases is document retrieval. Sometimes it is necessary to obtain records from various sources such as hospitals and doctor’s offices, business records, phone records or old out of state court records. There are usually costs associated with this in the form of copying fees and mailing or delivery fees. If these records must be sent to experts there are usually fees associated with sending and retrieving these records. These fees are generally not costly. Another expense associated with documents is bringing in the custodian of records for court appearances in some circumstances. Many times these custodians can simply be called to court without expense but in some cases the client will have to bear the cost.

Exhibits are also sometimes needed for demonstration purposes in court. Most of the time these are blow-ups of maps, documents or photos. There can be other types of evidence requiring special preparation for court and can be varied in nature. The cost of preparing these items can vary greatly.

There are additional miscellaneous items that may arise from time to time but those outlined here are the major items that cause additional expense. As stated previously, most cases will not require these services and certainly only a few will require additional services that create significant expense to you, but, when these services are needed it is important that you understand that your attorney would not ask you to bear the cost if it were not essential to your case. At the Law Office of Michael S Davis we strive to provide you with the best legal representation possible and incur the least expense necessary to effectively present your case.

At the Law Office of Michael S Davis, we would be happy to discuss your situation at no cost and help you determine your best course of action.

Friday, January 9, 2015


If you have been arrested or given a summons for a traffic or criminal offense you will probably need to seek the advice of an attorney. There are several things you can do that will assist you in allowing your attorney to do the best job possible for you.

In this four part series of "How to Help Your Attorney Help You", Attorney at Law Michael S. Davis discusses:
When should I contact an attorney?
What should I look for in an attorney?
What should I bring for my appointment?
What do I tell my attorney?


In short, you need to tell your attorney everything you know about the case. When you interview with an attorney, whether you end up hiring that attorney or not, your conversation is protected under the Attorney-Client Privilege. What this means is that your attorney can not share any information you confide to him or her with anyone including the police, prosecutors or others. The exception to this rule is to advise others working in your defense with your attorney in order to assist you. This is done on a need to know basis.

It is important that you give your attorney all the information that you have including not only things favorable to you, but those things that are detrimental to your case. Attorneys understand that sometimes not all clients are innocent or have acted in a manner that they should have. It is unlikely that you can tell your attorney anything that he or she has not heard before. You must put aside embarrassment, guilt or thoughts of protecting others at your own expense to inform your attorney of your situation in the same way you would divulge information to your doctor about your health concerns. Remember, your attorney is on your side and he or she is not there to judge you. There is someone in a black robe that will do that. Your attorney only wants to gather information to best assist you in your case.

Some clients express concern that if they tell “the bad things” or “admit guilt” that the attorney will not work as hard for them or will judge them. Again, we can only give you the best advice and develop the best strategies for your defense if we have correct information. The one place an attorney never wants to find out that a client has not been truthful is in the courtroom, by then it is too late to correct the problem.

At the Law Office of Michael S Davis, we would be happy to discuss your situation at no cost and help you determine your best course of action.