Wheeling Criminal Law Blog

From firearms to felonies: the legal details

With today's tense attitudes toward gun laws in America, it is all the more important to be aware of each state's legal details on the matter. Controversy over who, exactly, can possess firearms is recently the focal point of attention in the media and in daily life. Sometimes, gun owners may forget that they are carrying their firearm in a restricted setting. If that gun owner happens to have a history of misdemeanor charges, the results may be highly consequential. West Virginia law maintains that no individual with a past misdemeanor charge may possess a gun, yet there are other important factors of this law. 

A misdemeanor is the least of one's worries when they have charges prior to possession of a firearm. The Williamson Daily News reports on one such incident, in which a 25-year-old West Virginia male was arrested for possessing a firearm after being convicted of the misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. The Daily News goes on to share that the man, Bryan Keith Lewis, admitted to breaking into the home of a Logan County resident while armed with a .380 caliber pistol. Lewis then admitted to attacking the resident, where an altercation ensued. Because of his 2014 conviction of domestic violence, Lewis faces 9 years in federal prison for the incident.

Complex approaches to the opioid crisis

Drug offenses of any kind can be incredibly detrimental to an individual's life -- not only in the current-tense, but in the future, as well. When it comes to illegal possession of prescription drug offenses in West Virginia, lawmakers are reconsidering the once-widespread availability of opioids, turning to preventative measures in attempts of putting a halt to the state's drug epidemic. This tracing back to the initial acquiring of prescription drugs can potentially help those in need of addiction recovery. 

The opioid epidemic is no stranger to the state of West Virginia. The New Yorker recently acknowledged the issue, noting that the state has the highest overdose death rate in the country. Although this fact, as well as the crisis overall, are now largely ingrained in the nation's psyche, the actual cause is complex and underreported. The New Yorker adds that many residents in areas with particularly high rates of addiction and overdoses have come to identify the issue as a disease, but others dismiss this empathetic view. Other factors of the epidemic to consider, especially in the state, are frequent accounts of physical pain due to mining, higher rates of poverty and joblessness.  

Annie's Law in Ohio and the ignition interlock device

Whether you are driving away from the stadium, having consumed one too many beers, or on your way home from a party or wedding reception, having enjoyed a little too much wine, law enforcement might stop you for OVI. In the state of Ohio, if police charge you with operating a vehicle while impaired, you face both mandatory and optional penalties.

Annie's Law became effective in the spring of 2017. Under the new law, you might find the obligatory license suspension reduced if you opt for the use of an ignition interlock device.

Can your arrest record be expunged?

It may be difficult to fully comprehend the long-term consequences of a criminal arrest the moment you are facing one in Ohio County. Yet several years removed from an incident, you may still feel the stigma of the consequences that arose from it. Should the fact that you were arrested for a crime continue to hang over your head forever. The state of West Virgnia does not think so, which is why it has offered a way for certain arrests to be expunged from your record

The guidelines detailing expungement in the state can be found in Section 61-11-26 of West Virginia's Code. First and foremost, it should be understood that arrests for certain offenses cannot be erased from your criminal record. These include: 

  • DUI 
  • Driving without a license
  • Domestic violence 
  • Sex offenses against minors under the age of 12
  • Assaults resulting in serious bodily injury
  • Select animal cruelty offenses

When a hoax turns into a felony

Terrorist threats in West Virginia are no joke, even if the actor never intends to take any of the actions he or she has threatened.

This type of felony conviction results in jail time. It also comes with hefty fines and, perhaps a surprise to some, restitution requirements.

Drug-related charges and employment

If you are charged with an offense that involves drugs, you life may be impacted in numerous ways. For example, you could face time behind bars, steep fines, or problems with some of your family members as a result of the charges. Moreover, our law firm is aware of the other ways that these charges could affect you currently and in the future. For example, you may have problems related to employment if you are charged with a drug crime in Wheeling or another part of West Virginia.

Drug crime charges could result in the loss of your job. If you find yourself out of work, you may face financial hardships, an incredible amount of stress, and other difficulties. Moreover, these charges could make it harder for you to land a job in the years to come. Unfortunately, people who have been charged with these types of offenses may find that the charges come back to haunt them years down the road.

You can avoid jail time even with a previous DUI conviction

Some people drink and drive a lot and never seem to get caught. Others are scrupulous, cutting off their wine or beer intake well before they have to leave a social event in Wheeling, yet they still get pulled over, charged and convicted anyway. The first time this happens is distressing enough, especially if you were certain you were adequately sober to drive. (And maybe you were. It is true that police testimonies and the results of blood alcohol content tests are not always reliable.)

But what about the second time? Perhaps you had a little wine at the book club meeting last night and got pulled over and charged. If you are convicted, it would be your second time because of an incident a few years ago when you were pulled over after an anniversary dinner in which you barely drank anything.

The changing landscape of opioid addiction and the law

West Virginia is a beautiful place, but economic forces at play within the state cause it to face some unique challenges. One of the most tragic of these challenges in recent years is the rise of opioid addiction in the state. An addiction to prescription painkillers or heroin can cost jobs, destroy marriages and ultimately prove fatal. It can also result in steep criminal penalties for violations of drug laws.

As Business Insider reports, West Virginia has the highest rates of opioid overdose in the United States. Even as the rest of the nation experienced an increase in opioid use and dependence in the early 2000s, West Virginia was especially hard-hit. Researchers suggest that the disproportionate impact of opioids in the state is partially a result of the manual labor economy. Coal mining has long been a driver of the state economy. But the long hours of hard labor can result in painful injuries for miners. As drug manufacturers shipped in more and more prescription painkillers, mining camp doctors prescribed them to help workers cope with the chronic pain of these injuries.

Myriad of charges emerges from raid on Charleston bar

It may shock some in Wheeling to see just how many criminal charges can arise from a single action by law enforcement. However, some may say that depending on the scope of the alleged offenses and the number of people involved, a myriad of charges is to be expected. Hearing of multiple legal offenses being leveled regarding a single event may cause some to believe that law enforcement officials are at their discretion when charging defendants.

Such a thought may have been on the minds of some after news broke of a tenth person arrested in connection with a raid on a Charleston bar. The raid occurred after a confidential informant delivered stolen beer to the bar. This resulted in both the bar owner and manager being charged with unlawful acts of licensees. The local Alcohol Beverage Control Administration has since suspended the establishment’s liquor license.

Drug diversion in West Virginia

An arrest for a drug-related offense in West Virginia may include a wide range of types of substances as well as other circumstances. From prescription medications like opioid painkillers or anxiety and depression medications to illegal substances like methamphetamines and heroin, people may find themselves accused of criminal activities. These offenses range from possession to distribution and more. For some defendants, the ability to participate in a drug diversion program may be an option.

According to the West Virginia Judiciary, the state's drug court system is focused on taking a nonadversarial approach to select cases involving drug crimes. It seeks first to help people get treatment and rehabilitate so that they are less likely to continue any potential abuse of drugs and also less likely to be involved in future criminal activity relating to drugs.

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