Wheeling Criminal Law Blog

Criminal justice reform activities in West Virginia

Residents in West Virginia may be aware of the First Step Act, a recent federal step toward criminal justice reform. However, it is also important to be aware of the many actions currently underway in the state of West Virginia specifically that are aiming to improve the lives of people accused of or convicted of criminal offenses.

As reported by Metro News, the director of the West Virginia chapter of Americans for Prosperity indicates that numerous bills have been introduced into the state legislature that may go a long way toward protecting the rights of defendants and improving their chances for a positive reintegration into society. The bills, it seems, may have support from both conservatives and liberals.

How serious is trespassing in West Virginia?

Like many people, you may think trespassing is not too big of a deal, especially if you are younger or enjoy the activity known as urban exploring. However, you and other West Virginia residents should understand that entering private or commercial property without permission, or remaining on the property after being asked to leave by someone legally in charge of the property, can result in long-lasting criminal repercussions.

Exactly how bad is trespassing, you may wonder? According to FindLaw, most instances of trespassing in West Virginia are considered misdemeanor offenses with varying degrees of severity. For example, the following consequences can apply:

  • You can get a fine of up to $500 for a first conviction of trespassing.
  • A second or third offense come with more serious charges of $1,000 to $1,500 in fines.
  • Jail terms can apply if trespassing results in damage to property, crops or livestock.
  • More serious charges apply if the alleged trespasser carries a weapon with intent to harm another person.

State files unique civil suit against diocese

Many people in West Virginia have watched as scandals surrounding sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church have erupted across the nation and even the world. Certainly, it is important that children are protected but it is also important to note that not every allegation may be true just like with any type of allegation or criminal charge. The state of West Virginia appears poised to try a new approach to pursuing some accountability for alleged improprieties by the church.

As reported by The New York Times, the state's Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the only Catholic diocese in West Virginia that is civil, not criminal. The state is using violation of a consumer protection law as the basis on which to bring the lawsuit, something that is almost never done when a religious institution is involved. These types of laws are generally left for issues involving businesses.

An overview of West Virginia's sex offender registry

Anyone who has been charged with a sex offense in West Virginia will want to learn about the potential consequences of the charges they face. One of the consequences may be the requirement to register as a sex offender. The West Virginia Code explains that a person may be required to register for 10 years or for life depending on the details of their case.

Through the state's Sex Offender Registry program, people can go to the West Virginia State Police website and search for program participants in a variety of ways. They may search by last name, street name, online identity name, email address, county or city. In addition, people can filter search results by registrants deemed wanted or sexually violent.

What is a Ponzi scheme?

Running a Ponzi scheme constitutes one of the federal white collar crime charges you could face in West Virginia.

A Ponzi scheme represents a type of financial fraud, the penalties for which are quite severe if you receive a conviction.

DUI arrest results in dismissal of West Virginia state trooper

Most in Wheeling might expect some sort of consequence to accompany criminal charges. They might think, however, that such consequences will be exclusively limited to one's criminal case. Yet that may not always happen. Allegations of criminal activity can affect those that they are leveled at in a number of different ways. One might see their public reputation sullied, their rights restricted, and even their careers affected. 

Such is the case with a Barbour County man who was recently arrested for driving while intoxicated. The man was a West Virginia state trooper who as recently as last year was recognized for performing exemplary service on the job. However, after authorities in Buckhannon pulled his car over, they noticed him to be acting as though he was drunk. He originally aroused suspicion after authorities that his car was slightly damaged and the tires were covered with mud; an investigation at a nearby business complex revealed that he allegedly drove off the road and struck a fence. Roadside sobriety tests indicated that he was indeed impaired, and he reportedly failed a subsequent breath test. The incident led to him being fired from his job. 

What is constructive possession?

If you face drug charges in West Virginia, this is no fun whatsoever. If convicted, you could spend considerable time in prison. You could also face having to pay substantial fines.

It goes without saying that in order to convict you of any drug crime, however, the prosecutor must prove that you controlled, owned and/or possessed the drugs on which your case is based. Basically, (s)he has two ways to do this. She can prove it by actual possession or by constructive possession.

Defendant enters into plea deal for drug charges

People in West Virginia who find themselves facing serious criminal charges may often feel as if they have few to no options for how to proceed with a defense in their case. Even when circumstances look bleak, however, it is important for defendants to remember that they do have rights and one of these rights is to a fair defense and appropriate process.

When it comes to criminal defense, the situation may not always be as straightforward as either being found guilty of all charges as originally assessed or not guilty. One option that may be a good avenue for some people is a plea deal. In these cases, defendants may end up pleading guilty to some charges but often find that they are then not prosecuted for other charges. A plea agreement may also result in a lesser charge being levied against them than what had previously been entered.

Is mail fraud a federal crime?

In West Virginia, mail-related crimes are treated seriously regardless of what carrier was used by the perpetrator or what fraudulent act was committed. But just how are crimes of mail fraud treated in court? What are the potential consequences you could end up facing if you are convicted of a mail fraud charge?

As FindLaw states, mail fraud is a federal crime. Accordingly, it could come with severe penalties if you are convicted. This can include up to 20 years in prison. If the fraud you were involved in affected a financial institution or was related in some way to a presidentially-declared state of emergency, then this time can raise to a potential 30 years. Additionally, you could end up paying up to 1 million dollars in fines.

The risks of computer hacking for local area teens

Teenagers and computer hacking are almost synonymous; parents in Ohio or West Virginia towns and cities such as Bellaire, Martins Ferry, Moundsville, Saint Clairsville or Akron may view the activity as harmless fun. That may be true, but teens are often unaware that hacking into their friends' computers to prank them is illegal. States and federal law enforcement departments are aggressively pursuing illegal computer access, from simple teen hacking to high-stakes white-collar crime.

Just as milder drugs are sometimes a gateway to powerfully addictive substance abuse, teen computer hacking can provide an entry port to cybercrime. No county is immune, whether Jefferson, Belmont, Brooke, Marshall, or Ohio. Teen hacking is a growing problem across the country.

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