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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 11975
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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Hi. My son is 19yrs old and received a summons to appear in

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Hi. My son is 19yrs old and received a summons to appear in court for having one unopened bottle of beer in his Back-pack. (he was riding a bike and got stopped in our driveway) What can he expect to happen when he goes to court on the 10th of July in Roanoke Virginia?
Thank you for your question.

The first appearance is a hearing in which the defendant is advised of his/her rights and the procedure that will be followed. If he does not have an attorney at that time, he is given an opportunity to obtain one if they wish. If an individual cannot afford to hire an attorney, the court will consider whether or not to appoint an attorney to represent them based on the court's first determining the financial situation.

For a first offense, if convicted, the court may defer further proceedings and place the accused on probation subject to conditions imposed by the court that may include license suspension or restrictions. When proceedings are deferred, the court must require the accused to enter a treatment or education program, or both, depending on what the court believes best suits the needs of the accused. If the accused abides by the conditions, the court will discharge the person from probation and dismiss charges without an adjudication of guilt (Code of Virginia § 4.1-305.F).

Additionally, as a young adult, upon conviction, he may lose his privilege to drive for not less than six months (and up to one year maximum). They face a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or must perform a mandatory minimum of 50 hours of community service if convicted. (§ 4.1-305.).

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

1st off, I want to thank you for your help. I do however have a couple more questions:

As I have stated, My son was not in a vehicle and as per your answer he can still lose his driving privelage? If this is the case, can he get a restricted liscense to drive to work and school?

Next, Should he ask for a public defender as he cannot afford a Lawyer or should he just plead guilty as the outcome would be the same?

Also, will he have the choice to perform community service as opposed to paying the $500 fine? And about how much will the court cost be along with any treatment or educational programs that he may have to go through. He is a good kid and has never been in any kind of trouble with the law up to this point.

My pleasure. Thank you for your reply.

1) Unfortunately, yes, the way the law is written, he can still lose his driving privileges for up to 12 months (and no less than 6 months), even though he wasn't driving a car. The law does allow, upon a showing of hardship, the judge to grant a person a hardship license to go to work/school, for example, though the law also allows them if they do so, to require that a person be monitored during the time they have a hardship license, to be monitored by probation or an alcohol safety program.

2) I would not simply show up and plead guilty. The state still has the burden of proof, and he should at least talk to a lawyer about what happened and come to a decision only after speaking with counsel. Even if he pleads not guilty, he can always change his plea at a later date, and he will not be penalized in any way because of that.

3) Whether he performs community service or is issued the $500 fine is at the discretion of the court. Similarly, I cannot tell you what the court costs or program costs might be, because those will vary by judge, county, state, etc. It is something he would want to discuss with a criminal attorney who is familiar with the judges in your county who can give him an idea as to what sort of penalties the judges give out if a person pleads guilty or is convicted as a first offender.

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