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Frequently Asked Questions

So, you're scared or worried and don't know what's going on.  And, when you ask a question, you're too stressed or lost to be sure you can process the answer.  We understand.  Below are some of the commonly asked questions Jen Raimo addresses in her law practice.  Feel free to browse through them and see if they help clear things up for you.  If not, you can always send an email about your general question and suggest I add your topic to this page.  If you have a question about your particular case, call the office at (703) 591-4868 to schedule a free consultation.

Click here for all answers submitted to the Avvo Legal Services page.

How much are your fees?

Jen Raimo charges a flat fee for most cases.  Attorney's fees are based on the attorney's estimate of the level of difficulty and amount of work that will be involved in your case.  Because every case is different, it is not possible to tell you how much an attorney would charge for your case without having first learned about your police encounter.  You will find that Jen Raimo's fees are competitive with other attorney's in the area.  

Consultations are offered free of charge on most afternoons and evenings.  At the consultation, you can expect to receive an honest fee quote spelled out in writing and guaranteed not to go up if the case turns out to be more work than anticipated.  You will never be told an artificially low number just to find out it doesn't include anything that should have been anticipated at the time of your consultation.

For example, some attorneys charge a fee for each court appearance even if they know at the time of intake that a case will need to be continued in order for your to have best possible chance to win the case.  This often happens in drunk driving and car accident cases in counties where the prosecutors are not required to subpoena any necessary witnesses until after the first court date.  Jen Raimo will never charge you extra money just because you want to exercise your right to a trial.

I have a public defender or a court-appointed attorney, but I want a real lawyer.  Will you take my case for free or at a reduced rate?

Public defenders and court-appointed attorneys are real lawyers, and often good ones.  Unfortunately, they are also often overworked and underpaid and that may leave you wondering if you really are getting the help you need.

If you want to hire private counsel, you should be prepared to pay for your new lawyer's services.  If all you want is a cheap lawyer, you probably should stick with the one you have.

The Law Office of Jennifer Raimo does accept payment plans with a credit card in some cases for people who cannot pay the full fee upfront.  All payment plans are drafted in a way that is meant to guarantee attorney fees will be paid in full before the court case ends.  If you would like to learn more about whether a payment plan is a possibility for you, call Jen Raimo today to schedule a free consultation.

I will be paying the bill for my friend or loved one's lawyer.  Why do you insist on meeting him first?  Why shouldn't I be present in the room while you talk to him or her?

Even when a third party pays for a person's lawyer, that person cannot be the decision-maker in the case.  Virginia ethics rules make it very clear that the client in a criminal or traffic case is the person who got arrested or received a ticket.  That client has the same right to privacy and secrecy with his or her lawyer that a person with funds has.

Furthermore, anything a criminal or traffic defendant says to someone other than his or her lawyer can be used against him or her in court.  Your loved one's prosecutor would not hesitate to make you testify against your loved one if anyone discovers that your loved one discussed the incident that caused your loved one's legal troubles with you.

Do I have to go to court?

In most cases, the defendant must go to court for all hearings.  Exceptions are sometimes made for minor cases that are not likely to result in a jail sentence.  The rules about waiving your appearance vary from court to court.  If you are hoping to avoid going to court, you should retain a lawyer to go on your behalf with the local court's permission.

Why do I need an attorney for a misdemeanor case?  Can't I just fight the charge on my own?

Most misdemeanors in Virginia are class 1 or 2 misdemeanors, which carry a risk of jail time in addition to a fine. IT is very unlikely the police officer who charged you will not be interested in dropping the charge or helping you in court. The prosecutor's job is to prosecute you, not to help you. The judge is not allowed to help you. Nevertheless, you will be required to obey the rules of evidence and procedure in addition to knowing the law as it applies to your case.

All lawyers spend three years intensively studying the law and an at least twelve hours of additional legal study every year. Both the judge and the prosecutor have that training. Most defendants do not and are therefore at a great disadvantage.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer like Jen Raimo goes to court every day. We know the little things that vary from courthouse to courthouse, such as how particular judges and prosecutors tend to react to certain crimes or arguments. We can evaluate the evidence against you and advise you as to the likelihood of succeeding at trial. We can also negotiate and evaluate any plea agreements that are offered by the prosecutor and advise you as to whether they are in your best interest. Going to court without a lawyer to do these things for you is kind of like strolling through a landmine: you might be ok, or you might have things go bad in a life-changing way.

Why should I get a lawyer if I know I am I guilty and will be convicted?

A lawyer can make sure the prosecutor can prove the case against you.  After all, why do you want to take a conviction which could have a bad impact on your life if your lawyer can discover it's not necessary?  If the prosecutor can prove the case against you, a lawyer can help minimize the damage through negotiation with the prosecutor and/or presenting your side of the story to the judge in the best light possible.  Most defendants do not know what will help persuade a judge to see things their way or how to protect themselves if a police officer or prosecutor wants to put you in jail.

What should I bring to my first appointment with a lawyer?

It's a good idea to bring any papers you received for the police, magistrate, jail, and court.  If you have documentation that helps prove something in your favor such as proof you paid for something you are accused of stealing, or something showing you were out of town when an incident happened, medical records, or anything else that helps explain your side of the story, bring that, too.  I would rather have too much paper with lots of sticky notes than not have enough information.

How long does it take to handle a misdemeanor case?

General district courts try to have 90% of misdemeanor cases closed within 90 days after the date of the incident that triggered a court case. Most cases are resolved on the first day they are on the court's trial docket. In some courts, witnesses to a car accident are not required to appear in court. If you were given a ticket or arrested following a car accident, you may have to go to court twice in order to fight the charge. Other cases that tend to last several months are drunk driving cases, especially those cases in which a blood sample is sent to the Department of Forensic Science for analysis.

How long does it take to handle felony cases?

Felony cases take anywhere from a few months to a year to handle, depending on the circumstances. These cases start in either general district court or juvenile and domestic relations court and end circuit court. There are several types of hearings that occur throughout these months, including bond motions, preliminary hearings, scheduling hearings, motions, trial, and possibly a sentencing hearing. I have described each stage of the felony court system in my new book, An Introduction to the Felony Court System, which I am offering for free to Virginia residents. If you would like a copy, email me with your address at [email protected] or call me at (703)591-4868.

Where does the lawyer handle court cases?

Jen Raimo is licensed to handle cases in all courts throughout Virginia and federal cases in the Eastern District of Virginia.  She will consider accepting any criminal or traffic case pending in any Virginia court or the United States District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

Her experience includes courts in the following counties:

† Arlington County

† Alexandria City

† Fairfax City

† Fairfax County

† Falls Church City

† Fauquier County

† Town of Herndon

† Loudoun County

† Prince William County

† Richmond City

† Stafford County

† Warren County

† Winchester City

† Town of Vienna

† United States District Court, Alexandria

What should I wear to court?

Courts are a rather formal place. You should dress conservatively in business or church attire. Avoid shorts, short skirts, and shirts that do not reach your waist. A few real-life examples of things I've seen in court that you absolutely should not wear are t-shirts with a picture of a marijuana leaf or the middle finger on the front. People who do this are just being stupid and making things worse for themselves. The bottom line is you should never dare the judge to punish you harshly because they will rise to the occasion every time.

Can the person who called the police drop the charge?

No, it is no longer in that person's hands.  The prosecutor will make that decision, but may take into consideration the wishes of the alleged victim.  This person may want to speak with a lawyer before the court date to learn more about his or her rights and responsibilities, especially if he or she was not completely honest with the police.

My loved one hired you without telling me.  What happened in the case and what does it mean for his or her future?

Everything discussed between a lawyer and her client is supposed to be kept secret between us.  You can rest assured I have made my best effort to advise your loved one well based on the information he or she provided me and what I learned through working the case.  Unfortunately, I cannot discuss your loved one's case with you.

I was convicted of something a long time ago.  Can I have the record expunged or at least have the charge and/or sentence reduced?

Virginia law does not allow for a case to be modified, expunged, or “erased” from your record under these circumstances.  Most requests for reconsideration need to be finalized within twenty-one days after the final Order is entered in the case or while you are still serving jail time in the local adult detention center (without having been transferred to DOC) for that case.


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