West Virginia and Virginia permits DUI arrests on Private Property

DUI on Private Property?

DUI on Private Property?

In Virginia, a person can be charged with a DUI for drinking and driving on private property. Last week, the West Virginia Supreme Court interpreted West Virginia DUI law the same way.

Chief Justice Menis Ketchum wrote in the majority opinion “The Legislature’s definition of the phrase ‘in this State’ … extends the reach of our driving-under-the-influence laws to any individual driving a vehicle within the physical boundaries of West Virginia, even if the vehicle is driven only upon private property not open to the general public.”

In 2012, Joshua Beckett was driving an ATV in a field on farmland owned by his family. After a crash, he was hospitalized and blood was taken. His BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) was 0.17. The legal limit in West Virginia is 0.08.

Beckett’s DUI lawyer argued that his license couldn’t be suspended because he was driving the ATV on private, family-owned land, the Supreme Court opinion states. He argued that there was also no evidence of him driving on a public street or highway.

So please be aware that now, in both West Virginia and Virginia, people can be arrested for DUI or DWI and have their driver’s licenses taken away even if they’re driving on private property.


Alex Gordon The Gordon Law FirmAlex Gordon Fairfax DUI Lawyer
Alex Gordon
Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer

Alex Gordon is a criminal defense attorney that has more than 16 years of experience representing people in Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Prince William County. He has been practicing law for more than 22 years and is member of the Florida, Georgia, and the Virginia State Bar. The Gordon Law Firm has helped more than 2500 people accused of Reckless Driving and DUI in Virginia.

Blatant Racism on a Jury? : Supreme Court to decide if it’s okay

closed mindsThis spring, the United States Supreme Court is considering a case that may determine whether jury deliberations should remain secret, even if the jury includes members that make racist comments to encourage the conviction of a defendant.

In 2007, a Mexican national named Miguel Angel Pena-Rodriguez was convicted of unlawful sexual contact and two counts of harassment after two teenage girls identified him as their assailant. The victims claimed Pena-Rodriguez sexually assaulted them in a bathroom of the accused’s place of employment in Denver, Colorado. After his conviction, Pena-Rodriguez’s lawyers filed a motion for juror contact information.  They believed that some of the jurors used racial slurs during their deliberations. Defense counsel was granted permission to obtain affidavits from the jurors solely to gather information about what the alleged racist jurors had stated.

Two jurors came forward, M.M. and L.T., and claimed that H.C., a former law-enforcement officer, made statements that he thought Pena-Rodriguez “did it because he’s Mexican and Mexican men take whatever they want.” Also uttered by H.C. were statements that Mexican men were physically controlling due to their supposed sense of entitlement, that their “bravado” leads them to take action with women, and that “nine times out of ten Mexican men were guilty of being aggressive toward women and young girls.” Finally, H.C. was alleged to have said that Pena-Rodriguez’ favorable witness was not to be trusted because he was an undocumented immigrant.

Juror H.C. made it through jury selection, a process known as vior dire.   Several questionnaires, submitted by both prosecution and defense, were presented to each juror, including H.C..  They potential jurors were questioned as to whether or not they held any kind of racial bias.  All final members selected to the jury, including H.C., claimed they had no bias.

Pena-Rodriguez moved for a new trial based the information obtained in M.M. and L.T.’s affidavits.   The Colorado Court of Appeals was split. The Court found that CRE 606(b), in its application in Pena-Rodriguez’s trial, was not unconstitutional. CRE 606(b) grants a broad protection to jury deliberations, and any statements or shared thoughts made during the process. However there are three exceptions, two of which apply to this case, according to the three Justices that wrote for the dissent: “[A] juror may testify about (1) whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jurors’ attention, and (2) whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror…”

Is it more important to protect jury deliberations, even if statements made could influence fellow jurors to the point of convicting a potentially innocent person solely based on ethnicity or skin color? Or, is an accused’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair and impartial jury more important? SCOTUS will hear arguments on whether or not the trial court’s application of CRE 606(b) was unconstitutional, and how, or if, it affected Pena-Rodriguez’ Sixth Amendment right. As for now, jury deliberations remain secret. Come fall, however, SCOTUS may rule that inappropriate conduct in the jury room, may allow cases to be re-opened.

Alex Gordon  Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer

Alex Gordon
Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer


Alex Gordon is a criminal defense attorney that has more than 16 years of experience representing people in Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Prince William County.  He has been practicing law for more than 20 years and is  member of the Florida, Georgia, and the Virginia State Bar.  The criminal defense lawyers of The Gordon Law Firm has helped more than 4500 people accused of criminal charges in Virginia.

Werth trial for Reckless Driving scheduled for February 3, 2015 in Fairfax County

Nationals baseball player Jayson Werth appeared in Fairfax County Circuit Court today in order to set a trial date for his charge of Reckless Driving.  The court scheduled the jury trial for February 3, 2015 at 10 AM.  At this time a judge has not been assigned to the case.  Typically judges in Fairfax County are not assigned to a criminal trial until the actual date of the hearing.

Jayson Werth was convicted by a General District Court Judge in Fairfax County of Reckless Driving under Virginia Code Section 46.2-862.  He was alleged to have been driving his sportscar at 105 mph in a 55 mph zone on the I-495 beltway in Fairfax County.  The General District Court judge imposed a 10 day jail sentence and a 6 month loss of license.

In Virginia, a person driving just 20 mph above the posted speed limit or at a speed of 80 mph or greater can be charged with Misdemeanor Reckless Driving.    What many people don’t realize is that a person does not need to drive “recklessly” – switching lanes, tailgating, swerving, or squealing tires- to be charged with Reckless Driving under Virginia law.  All that is required is speed.

In Virginia, a person convicted of a misdemeanor in General District Court may file an appeal.  Once an appeal is filed, whatever punishment was imposed the the lower court judge is eliminated, and the person has a right to a new trial in Circuit Court.  The determination of guilt or innocence is made by a jury or a judge.  Either party, the Commonwealth or the Defendant, may request a jury trial.

If a person is tried by a jury, the panel of jurors first must decide whether there is “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to convict the Defendant of the crime.  If a person is found guilty, the jury issues a recommended sentence.  The potential sentence for Reckless Driving in Virginia can be up to 12 months in jail, a $2500.00 fine, and/or a 6 month loss of his privilege to drive in Virginia.

After a trial and sentencing, a Circuit Court judge may choose to reduce a jury recommended sentence and/or suspend part of a jail sentence and fine.  The judge cannot increase the punishment recommended by the jury.


Alex Gordon  Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer
Alex Gordon
Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer


Alex Gordon is a criminal defense attorney that has more than 15 years of experience representing people in Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Prince William County.  He has been practicing law for more han 20 years and is  member of the Florida, Georgia, and the Virginia State Bar.  The Gordon Law Firm has helped more than 2000 people accused of Reckless Driving in Virginia.


Save it for Festivus — Avoid Fights on Thanksgiving

Debates and arguments around the dinner table are big Thanksgiving traditions with many families.  Here are some tips to avoid having a good-natured discussion become a great deal more serious.

Driving angry after dinner can cause encounters with local law enforcement for speeding and Reckless Driving.  Leaving a dinner party early after drinking too much can lead to a DUI.  Thanksgiving dinner fights can also end tragically in violence.

To try to deal with, mitigate or avoid unwanted political arguments during your Thanksgiving feast, Associate Professor of Psychology Sean Duffy, from Rutgers-Camden has some tips to keep in mind if and when the discussion begins to turn mean and nasty.

1) Discuss any potentially large disagreements before dinner.

First, dinner time is the point where everyone is holding sharp objects which is obviously not a good time to stir up anger and resentment.

“Family members may agree to put their differences aside for the day and just enjoy one another’s company,” said Duffy in an interview with Jason Laday.  “If an argument starts at the table, ask that it be put aside for the day and deal with it on Friday. Thanksgiving should not be the time that grievances are aired.”  The proper holiday for airing grievances is Festivus.   To learn how to properly celebrate Festivus, click here.

Happy Thanksgiving

 Happy Thanksgiving


2) Keep a sense of humor.

“Another strategy is if someone says something you disagree with, count to twenty in your head before responding,” he added. “Usually your first response will be hasty and emotional — give yourself some time to come up with a measured response.”

“For certain situations, I think detached humor is a good strategy,” Duffy said. “Tolerate that uncle with extreme political views as a funny aside to an otherwise good day. Let him call Obama a Kenyan communist, and laugh about it later — at the end of the day they are just silly words.”

It is also fun to look at the dinner as a Saturday Night Live skit, Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer Alex Gordon suggests.  Imagine which comedians, past or present, from SNL would play your relatives.  Check out Thanksgiving dinner with Debbi Downer.

3) Remember that most disagreements — and especially those about politics or money — tend to be pretty small in the grand scheme of life

Life can be fragile and you never know what may happen in the coming months.  Money can be replaced and elections change the political landscape every two years it seems.  Focus on generating fun memories, not on winning or getting your point across.  Save that for emailing on a different day other than Thanksgiving.

4) There is a reason why “Don’t bring up politics or religion” is a saying that has been passed down through generations. The same goes for the credo of “Silence is golden.”

“Thanksgiving is about celebrating the harvest and enjoying the company of family,” said Duffy. “Political or religious debate should be punishable by banishment into the kitchen to wash dishes.”  If a controversial topic arises, if no one responds to the instigator — the discussion ends.  Treat that abrasive political comment like a tree falling in a forest with nobody around.  Let it crash in silence.


Jason Laday originally wrote parts of this article for the South Jersey Times


Judge Cannon remembered by Loudoun Attorneys Carlos Wall and Alex Gordon

On October 17, 2014, the Virginia legal community was surprised to learn of the death of  former Loudoun County General District Judge Julia Cannon.
Judge Cannon served on the bench in Loudoun from the early 1990s until her retirement in 2011.  Judge Cannon had graduated from the University of Virginia Law School.

The lawyers of The Gordon Law Firm, Alex Gordon and Carlos Wall, had appeared in her Loudoun courtroom more than 100 times during their career representing clients accused of misdemeanors such as Possession of Marijuana, Reckless Driving, and DUI.
Loudoun Times reporter Trevor Baratko spoke to Attorney General Mark Herring, who is from Loudoun County.  “Judge Cannon was a wonderful person and a great judge,”  Mark Herring said. “Loudoun was fortunate to have her. She was well-respected by those who entered her court room and well-liked by those who knew her outside of it.”

Leesburg-based attorney John Flannery  also said in an interview with Baratko that “Cannon was an exceptional lawyer and a fair no-nonsense judge who did her homework and came to court ready to discuss what needed to be done — and to get it done promptly,” Flannery said. “Julia was active in the community and popular on and off the bench. It’s a shocking and unpleasant surprise that we’ve lost her.”

Alex Gordon had appeared before her in court when she served as a substitute judge just weeks before she succumbed to her battle with cancer.  “As usually, she greeted me with a smile on her face and treated my client kindly and with respect.”  Gordon said.  “She will be missed for her fairness and good humor.”

We always hope that judges like Judge Cannon get approved by the Virginia state legislature to the bench.  Her respect for professionalism, understanding or reasonable doubt, and her positive demeanor to all lawyers and litigants should be an example to others.  We were fortunate to have the privilege of practicing before her.


Parts of the article was published in the LoudounTimes.com by Trevor Baratko at http://www.loudountimes.com/news/article/former_judge_julia_cannon_dies543

Page 1 of 1512345...10...Last »