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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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What to Know about Plea Bargains in a Virginia Criminal Case


The use of plea agreements in Virginia criminal matters is quite common. It is preferable to resolve a matter through a plea bargain for a number of reasons. One of these is reducing the risk for both the prosecution and defendant. Plea bargains can also help ease the backlog of cases in an overburdened court system, making room for more serious matters that need the court’s attention.

What is a Plea Deal? 

As the name suggests, a plea deal is a deal between the Commonwealth of Virginia, who is represented by a prosecutor, and the defendant, who is likely represented by a Virginia criminal defense attorney. Typically, the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest in order to obtain a reduced charge and/or sentence.

Jury decisions are unpredictable, and the plea bargain brings certainty and control to that situation. In addition, the courts don’t necessarily have the resources to try every case that is filed. By offering plea deals in appropriate cases, it can reduce both the time and expenses involved in taking a case to trial.

Plea Bargaining in Traffic Matters 

A traffic violation is a common criminal matter that is resolved with plea deals. Because there are so many traffic violations filed, they are a low priority for the courts to hear each and every one. Prosecutors try to work a deal, which often ends up being favorable for the driver. By agreeing to a plea deal, you may still have a fine, but reducing the number of DMV points is a huge incentive. A plea bargain can help keep the violation from having a worse impact on your driving record and your insurance premiums.

Plea Deals on Misdemeanor Cases 

Plea deals involving misdemeanor charges typically fall into two categories. One is deferred disposition, which means the attorneys may reach an agreement that includes dropping the criminal charges, provided you agree to certain terms. This might be community service, some type of education program, and/or probation.

Another option is a deal that could eliminate or reduce jail time. If deferred disposition is not an option or your situation doesn’t qualify due to prior history, there may still be options that can help reduce your jail time.

Should You Agree to a Plea Deal? 

It’s important if you have been offered a plea deal that you discuss it with a Virginia criminal defense attorney prior to accepting. Do some innocent people plead guilty? In some cases, an innocent person may plead guilty to a lesser charge rather than risk losing on a more serious charge at trial.

Retaining a Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, you need a Virginia criminal defense attorney who will fight for you and negotiate the best plea deal if that is an option. The attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC have experience handling a variety of criminal matters, including DUIs, traffic violations, drug crimes, theft, suspended license violations, and more. Contact us online or call our office at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.

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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!