Posts Tagged ‘criminal’

Should I take a Polygraph?

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Sometimes, I have clients come in who are adamant that they are not guilty and they will state ” I’ll take a polygraph that will prove I’m innocent! ”

A polygraph is a nice name for a lie detector test, and most people think they can ‘beat the test’ even if they are guilty. And sometimes, they really aren’t guilty of this particular accusation so they think they’re safe in taking the test.

The problem is that a polygraph has been proved to be ‘inherently unreliable’ and cannot be used in court.  It doesn’t really prove anything.

That part is fine.  What isn’t fine is that any statements you make during the interviews before or after taking the polygraph CAN be admitted into court.

Most of the time, the person taking the polygraph isn’t in custody, they came into the office to take the polygraph on their own and they are free to leave at any time, so the authorities don’t really need to issue any Miranda warnings, and they can ‘chat’ about anything.

Also, people use lie detector tests in cases other than criminal.  For example, sometimes people will be accused of adultery in a divorce case and they will agree to a polygraph to ‘prove’ they didn’t have an affair with someone.

My advice?  If you are ever in a position where you think you might want to take a polygraph to prove you’re innocent, just say no…..or at least contact an attorney and have the attorney with you when you go to take the test.  The attorney may be able to stop you from answering an ‘innocent’ question that might end up getting you into real trouble.

If you have questions about this or any other legal topic, please feel free to contact us at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at www.BeaversLaw.com.

Watch what you put on Facebook!

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

We all know that you shouldn’t put things like your home address or phone number on facebook.  But a lot of people put things on Facebook that can really ‘come back to bite  you’.  Talking to a good friend in person or on the phone is one thing, but typing some things onto Facebook can cause very severe repercussions, especially if you are in some sort of legal situation.  Privacy settings get changed relatively often these days and you really don’t know who is reading what you post.

In fact, you should always assume that whatever you post is being seen by everyone, including your soon-to-be-ex or his/her attorney and the Guardian Ad Litem that has been assigned to help the court make a custody decision.  Posting derogatory remarks about your spouse often backfires and leads the decision-makers to think poorly about you and your ability to co-parent your children effectively.

Talking about a new boyfriend and what a great weekend you spent together with your kids will possibly send you back to court when your children’s father points out that there was a court order that did not allow you to have overnight visitors of the opposite sex when the children were present.

Talking about your adventures on the new horse at the stable where you ride will not show you in a good light when you are brought into court for failure to provide the child for visitation and your excuse was that you are in a high-risk pregnancy that does not allow you to drive for over an hour to bring your child to his other parent after you moved away to be in a different state with your new husband.

Stories and pictures of you skiing do not help when you are trying to get disability or workman’s comp because of a back injury.

Bragging about having a new wide-screen TV that ‘fell off the back of the truck’ just might show up as evidence in a criminal investigation.

A picture of you with someone might be used as evidence that you and the person knew each other even though you say you never met.

Pictures of you with your ‘friend’ might just show up in your divorce proceeding as evidence of an extra-marital affair.  Or pictures of you out drinking with your buds might just show up in your custody case.

And don’t forget that potential employers might be reading when you write that your job is soooo boring and the time and date stamp of the post shows that you post on Facebook a lot while you are supposedly working.  I especially like the posts that tell the world that you think your boss is a ___ (fill in the blank).

You might think I’m just making this stuff up, but I’m not.  These things are really happening.

Text messages and Facebook posts are showing up more often in legal actions and they can often derail your legal plans.

Just be careful of what you post.  Remember that what you post, or what comments you make, are not just being seen by your closest friends.  Your fiercest enemy might also be watching!

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

Can my criminal record be expunged?

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

I’ve had a couple of phone calls in the past few weeks from people who want to have their criminal records expunged.  One of these was for a petty larceny conviction which started as a dare to shoplift.  The person took the advice of her friends and pled guilty, got a small fine, and thought she was off the hook.

Fast forward 8  years, and this same person now wants to rent an apartment.  Surprise! The apartment manager did a criminal background check and found the petty larceny charge.

I had another call from someone who had a brush with the police over 40 years ago, when he was a teenager, and that charge is now keeping him from getting a gun permit.

And just last week I had an inquiry from someone who was found guilty of grand larceny about 12 years ago and she can’t get a job today because of her criminal record.

Bad credit stays on your credit report for 7 years.  Even a financial judgment or bankruptcy falls off eventually.  In Virginia, criminal convictions stay on your record forever!

But what about an expungement?  An expungement is a civil process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed, generally after the expiration of time.  Each state has its own process and time frame.  In Virginia the time frame for sealing or destroying record of a criminal conviction is NEVER.  That’s right.  In Virginia, if you are found guilty of a crime, or if you plead guilty to a crime, that criminal record will remain forever and cannot be expunged automatically.

Is there a process in Virginia to have a record expunged?  The answer to that is Yes.  If you have a criminal record you can petition the court to have the record expunged.  But the only way a criminal record can be expunged in Virginia is if the criminal arrest was not finalized by a guilty verdict in any form, or if the court finds that the dissemination of information relating to the arrest of the petitioner causes or may cause circumstances which constitute a manifest injustice to the petitioner.

And most of the time, the court does not find that a manifest injustice exists where there was sufficient evidence to find the person guilty in the first place.  Your definition of a manifest injustice is not usually the same definition that the court uses!

As an example, people often argue that they just can’t be found guilty of reckless driving because it will affect their security clearance.  At least one Commonwealth Attorney I talked with said that they should have thought of that before they were caught going so fast!  Very different viewpoints on whether this is a manifest injustice!

So, if you were arrested but never tried; or if you were arrested and tried but found not guilty, then the expungement process might help you get that arrest off of your records.

Otherwise, there is a very, very, slim chance that the record might be expunged.

The ‘take away’ from this?  Don’t do the crime in the first place, otherwise it may follow you forever.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

Hampton Office !

Friday, May 20th, 2011

We have just opened a new satellite office to better serve our clients in the Hampton area.

Our Hampton office is in the Peninsula Town Center with an address of:

Kristina Beavers, Attorney at Law

4410 Claiborne Sq, Suite 334

Hampton, VA 23666

You can use the same phone number of 757-234-4650 to access us at either office (don’t you just love technology!)

To learn more about Kristina Beavers, Attorney at Law, check out our website at www.BeaversLaw.com

What is “Sexting”?

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

One of the newer trends with teens (and pre-teens) is ‘sexting’.  This is where someone takes a picture (or video) of him or herself and transmits it to someone else electronically.   This is usually as a text message to a cellphone, hence the term ‘sexting’ which is a combination of the words ‘sex’ and ‘texting’.

The picture is usually sexual in nature and shows parts of their body, or actions,  that they would not normally display in person.  Most of the time the sender thinks it is exciting and fun and is used as a way to explore their sexuality, the fact that they are ‘not just a kid’, or as proof of their ‘love’ for the other person.

The sender does not think about the fact that these pictures are now permanently stored somewhere.  They don’t think about the fact that the person who receives the picture can forward it on to others, by mistake, to brag, or as a way to humiliate the sender when the two have a fight or end their relationship, often laughing and thinking about what a joke it will be.

But they aren’t laughing when the police charge them with the production and/or distribution of child pornography and the possibility of being a registered sex offender!

Child pornography laws were developed to protect the children of our society, and at the time the laws were written, nobody imagined that the children would be producing the pictures on their own.  Most people think that in order to be convicted of producing or distributing child pornography you need to be a ‘dirty old man’.  That is not true.  The statutes don’t say that the producer or distributor must be over the age of 18, male or anything else.  It is the act of production or distribution that defines the crime, not the description of the person doing the act.

The children may not be aware of what they are really doing and they probably have no idea of the legal problems that they are starting.  And yes, you can be found guilty of producing and distributing child pornography when the pictures are of yourself!

How can parents help?  By talking to their children about the proper and improper use of cell phones and taking pictures (or videos) of themselves. By monitoring the cell phone usage of their children.

We talk to our kids about drugs and smoking and the long term dangers associated with those actions.

We also need to talk to them about other dangers in growing up in our society.

Most of our kids are not aware that ‘sexting’ can lead to being ordered to be a registered sex offender.  Or that being a registered sex offender means you can’t get a room in a dorm at college.  Or that they won’t be able to pick their own kids up at schools because sex offenders are not allowed on school grounds.

As parents, we need to make sure our kids know that the excitement they get from  ‘sexting’ is just not worth the possible repercussions!