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Law Office of James M Johnson, PLLC
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Law Office of James M Johnson, PLLC
James Johnson

4339 Ridgewood Center Drive
Woodbridge VA 22192
(703) 986-0560

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Law Office of James M Johnson, PLLC


The Law Office of James M. Johnson is General Practice firm that believes in treating each individual fairly and in a respectful manner.  As a law firm, we strive to exceed your expectation by providing the best possible legal advice and advocacy. Our firm is prepared to provide our clients with competent legal services in a variety of areas.

Please Call: 703-986-0560

Please Contact us and allow us to help you in your time of need.  We will explain your situation and the legal process to you in a manner that will help you to fully understand all of your legal options.

Local Practice
Woodbridge, Manassas, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Fauguier, and Stafford County.

Federal Practice
Bankruptcy - Eastern District of Virginia
Criminal Defense - Eastern District of Virginia

Please Call: 703-986-0560

Criminal Defense/Civil Litigation

If you are facing a legal matter that requires your presence in court, you should immediately contact an attorney. The only way to insure your rights are preserved is to hire an experienced attorney that will fight for you. Once you have received your FREE book, call us to make an appointment. It is important to gather all information relevant to your case and bring it with you to your appointment.

Criminal Defense Civil Litigation
Misdemeanors  
Felonies

Criminal Defense

An experienced criminal law firm, the Law Office of James M. Johnson has represented clients on a wide spectrum of Misdemeanor and Felony charges. Our firm always puts the client’s best interests and personal liberties above all else. Our law firm will work tirelessly to provide you with the best possible outcome given the facts of the case and criminal charges against you.

In criminal matters, you should make notes of everything that you remember from your arrest.

  • What did the officer say to you?
  • What exactly did you say to the officer?
  • Were you read your Miranda rights?
  • Were there any witnesses?
  • Did you perform Field Sobriety Tests?

WRITE IT ALL DOWN! Do not trust your memory, trust your notes. The officer will have notes regarding their interaction with you during the arrest, so should you.


We have represented clients on all of the following criminal charges:

Illegal Drugs Family Violence
DWI/DUI/Drunk Driving Theft/Extortion/Burglary/Robbery
Assault/Battery Resisting Arrest
Sex Crimes Parole Violations
Traffic Tickets Felonies
White Collar/Money Laundering/Fraud Misdemeanors

 


Misdemeanors

These criminal charges have a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Your trial is typically on the date listed on your warrant/ticket. It is imperative that you contact an attorney as soon as possible so that we can properly prepare your case prior to your court date. The defense is usually only permitted one continuance in a case, so we prefer not to waste it due to a timing issue.

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Felonies

Felony charges can range from 1 year in prison, to life in prison. These charges typically entail a multi-step judicial process. The first step is the Prelimminary Hearing that is heard in the General District Court on the date listed on your warrant. The prosecution need only prove probable cause that the crime charged in the warrant took place. This is a lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that is required at trial. Your trial will take place in the Circuit Court. You have the option of a Jury trial or a Non-Jury trial. We will need to discuss which option will best serve you given the facts of your case.

Felonies are classified by the length of the possible punishment if convicted. There are six classes:

  • Class 1: x to x years $000.00 fine
  • Class 2: x to x years $000.00 fine
  • Class 3: x to x years $000.00 fine
  • Class 4: x to x years $000.00 fine
  • Class 5: x to x years $000.00 fine
  • Class 6: x to x years $000.00 fine


Civil Litigation

In civil litigation, collect all the documentation regarding your case that is possible. Let your attorney sort out what is relevant and what is not. Contracts, leases, emails, phone records, text messages, many different types of documentation and correspondence can be admissible in court. The preservation of evidence can be the key to winning your legal case in court. Evidence is the backbone of every civil litigation. Proper documentation will greatly assist a parent in a custody/visitation matter, or the injured party in an automobile personal injury suit.

Following these simple recommendations will greatly assist your attorney’s ability to represent you and can lead to a more desireable outcome in court.

Personal Injury

 

An experienced Personal Injury legal staff, the Law Office of James M. Johnson will make sure that your case is handled in a professional and caring manner.

Your case will be handled personally by an experienced attorney, not just a paralegal like other firms. We are aware of the frustration of dealing with insurance companies. Because civil and personal injury litigation can be time-consuming and exhausting, our office will handle even the smallest tasks for clients: picking up paperwork, tracking deadlines, updating clients at every step so that no details are lost and all angles are understood.

No one plans for an injury; it just happens unexpectedly and often through no fault of your own. Suddenly, you’re facing medical bills to cover the costs associated with the injury as well as lost wages or lost employment,not to mention pain and disability. It can be overwhelming.

What constitutes a personal injury claim?

The most common grounds, in cases not related to criminal acts, involve negligent torts where the wrongful acts of one person or on the part of a company cause injury to another.

These include accidents of many kinds which cause personal injuries:

  • Auto accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Trucking accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Premesis liability (slip and fall) accidents
  • Boating accidents

Car accidents can cause serious and sometimes devastating injuries. These can range from cuts, bruises, and soft tissue injuries to catastrophic injuries including head, neck, spinal cord and brain injury.

How will I pay my medical bills? How will I support my family while I recover? These are some of the questions people injured in auto accidents ask themselves. Our law office can help by providing answers to these questions and by offering advice regarding your legal rights and remedies when you are involved in a car accident or any other type of accident.

Under Virginia law, you may have the right to recover monetary damages if you have been injured in a car accident through the negligence or recklessness of another person. Damages may include reimbursement or compensation for:

  • Medical costs
  • Property loss
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

Contact us for your free book and put our auto accident knowledge to work for you.

After a car accident, a representative of the negligent party's auto insurance company may call and make a settlement offer in your personal injury case. Please remember that signing a release of your personal injury claim, in exchange for an insurance company check, may extinguish your personal injury claim forever. Also keep in mind that insurance companies are businesses. Therefore, even if the insurance company makes what you believe is a reasonable settlement offer, it may be in your best interest to contact an experienced car accident representative, like the Law Office of James M. Johnson, who will evaluate your case and put your interests ahead of the insurance companies.

Bankruptcy

As As a member of the United States Eastern District of Virginia Bankruptcy Court, James M. Johnson is prepared to advise you regarding your decision to file for federal bankruptcy protection. Guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, Bankruptcy is designed to help individuals and spouses who are over burdened with unsecured debt.

The Law Office of James M. Johnson is committed to helping people struggling to pay their monthly bills. We accept Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filings. Our law Firm offers a free consultation to discuss the options available to you given your financial situation. All information disclosed during the consultation will remain confidential. Our staff is compassionate and responsive to all questions and phone calls from clients. We ask that you read the free book in order to better understand the bankruptcy process. Please printout and complete the initial consultation form prior to our office meeting. This will improve the analysis of your financial situation.

Before we can file your Bankruptcy Petition with the Court, you must complete a Credit Counseling course from an approved provider. We will provide you with the course as part of our representation of your petition.

The Law Office of James M. Johnson is committed to assisting clients in financial hardship. Our legal services, including debt relief agency expertise, will be available to anyone who is over-burdened by debt. If you need legal advice regarding debt relief and bankruptcy, contact our office today.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

“Straight Bankruptcy”

Petitioners who qualify for a chapter 7 Bankruptcy are granted a complete discharge of their unsecured debt at the conclusion of the bankruptcy process. The process is initiated by the filing of the Bankruptcy petition and typically last approximately 3 months.

What is a Chapter 7 “Discharge”

“Discharge” in the bankruptcy sense refers to clearing the debtor’s slate of all, or most, past debts. Although many people expect that filing bankruptcy will wipe out all of their debts, that is not always the case. Bankruptcy only discharges certain debtors of certain debts. The availability of discharge depends on the type of bakruptcy proceeding involved, who the debtor is, and what type of debts the debtor has. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can advise his or her clients as to which debts will be discharged by a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and which debts will remain.

Debts that remain AFTER DISCHARGE

The rules on which debts are discharged, or eliminated, are different depending on which type of bankruptcy is filed. A lawyer experienced in bankruptcy law can advise his or her clients on whether and how particular debts will be affected by a bankruptcy discharge. Generally speaking, in a Chapter 7 proceeding, the following debts are not discharged.

Bankruptcy as a “Last Resort”

Bankruptcy should be used as a Last Resort. In some cases, our law office can negotiate a settlement of the debtor’s debt with their creditors without the need to file bankruptcy. Lawyers experienced in bankruptcy and debtor-creditor law can advise both debtors and creditors on whether a settlement may be their best course of action.

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Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

“Wage Earners Plan”

Petitioners who don’t qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy are typically granted a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy discharge of their unsecured debt at the conclusion of the bankruptcy process. The process is initiated by the filing of the Bankruptcy Petition and typically last several months. The Chapter 13 plan is most commonly known as the “Payment Plan” Bankruptcy. The Petitioner is required to pay back their creditors a portion of the debt through a 3 year payment plan.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcies are only filed when the Petitioner is not eligible for a Chapter 7 filing.

DUI

DUI – Driving Under the Influence

Given the influence exerted by interest groups, the political climate, and the DUI statutes designed for conviction in any situation, your need for an experienced trial lawyer is greater now than ever. The prosecution is less likely to reduce charges against defendants charged with driving under the influence today than ever before. You will need an attorney willing to take the matter to trial if necessary. Often, the prosecution is only willing to discuss reducing the criminal charges to a reckless driving charge when they know that the defense is willing to fight. Be prepared to fight for your driving record.

By statute, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of Virginia while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Under the influence is defined as having a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of .08 or greater. The prosecution can also seek a conviction without having a registered BAC. The court will rely on testimony from the arresting officer as to the Defendant’s condition at the time of the arrest. A strong cross-examination by your attorney is imperative in this situation.

  • If you have a BAC of .15 to .20, there is a mandatory 5 day jail sentence
  • A BAC of greater than .20 requires a mandatory 10 day jail sentence

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Multiple DUI offenses

If you have been convicted of prior driving under the influence charges, you are subject to elevated jail sentences. Consult with an attorney immediately so that your rights can be protected.

Federal DUIs

Because of the proximity to our nation’s capital, Prince William contains a high percentage of federal land, or land owned by the United States government. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a federal crime if it occurs on federal land. Federal land could be a military instillation such as Fort Belvoir or Quantico or in a National Park. When a person is arrested for a DUI on such land, it is considered a Federal DUI. Different laws govern different typed of federally owned land.

  • DUIs on National Park lands are prosecuted by the National Park Service.  Under the laws of the NPS, DUIs are misdemeanors punishable by up to six months in jail, $2,500.00 fine, and probation for up to five years

  • DUIs on military instillations are governed by the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia

Potential Consequences of a DUI Conviction

If you are convicted on a DUI or drunken driving charge, you face the following potential consequences:

  • Suspension or revocation of your driver's license
  • Fines of up to $2,500
  • Loss of security clearance at restricted governmental facilities
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Jail time
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device

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How To Calculate Your Estimated Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

Showing estimated percent of alcohol in the blood by number of drinks in relation to body weight. This percent can be estimated by:

1. Count your drinks (1 drink equals 1 ounce of 100-proof liquor, one five ounce glass of table wine or one 12-ounce bottle of regular beer).

2. Use the chart below and under number of "drinks" and opposite "body weight" find the percent of blood alcohol listed.

3. Subtract from this number the percent of alcohol "burned up" during the time elapsed since your first drink. This figure is .015% per hour. (Example: 180 lb. man - 8 drinks in 4 hours / .167% minus (.015x4) = .107 %

 

DRINKS

Body weight

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

100 lb.

.038

.075

.113

.150

.188

.225

.263

.300

.338

.375

.413

.450

110 lb.

.034

.066

.103

.137

.172

.207

.241

.275

.309

.344

.379

.412

120 lb.

.031

.063

.094

.125

.156

.188

.219

.250

.281

.313

.344

.375

130 lb.

.029

.058

.087

.116

.145

.174

.203

.232

.261

.290

.320

.348

140 lb.

.027

.054

.080

.107

.134

.161

.188

.214

.241

.268

.295

.321

150 lb.

.025

.050

.075

.100

.125

.151

.176

.201

.226

.251

.276

.301

160 lb.

.023

.047

.070

.094

.117

.141

.164

.188

.211

.234

.258

.281

170 lb.

.022

.045

.066

.088

.110

.132

.155

.178

.200

.221

.244

.265

180 lb.

.021

.042

.063

.083

.104

.125

.146

.167

.188

.208

.229

.250

190 lb.

.020

.040

.059

.079

.099

.119

.138

.158

.179

.198

.217

.237

200 lb.

.019

.038

.056

.075

.094

.113

.131

.150

.169

.188

.206

.225

210 lb.

.018

.036

.053

.071

.090

.107

.125

.143

.161

.179

.197

.215

220 lb.

.017

.034

.051

.068

.085

.102

.119

.136

.153

.170

.188

.205

230 lb.

.016

.032

.049

.065

.081

.098

.115

.130

.147

.163

.180

.196

240 lb.

.016

.031

.047

.063

.078

.094

.109

.125

.141

.156

.172

.188

Family Law

Given the increase in marital breakdown in our society, almost everyone has been or could be affected in some way by a separation or divorce. Dissolving a marriage often involves property rights and financial matters and can raise complicated legal problems, especially when children are involved.

Grounds for Divorce Child Support
Spousal Support Property Settlement Agreement
Custody Are Attorneys Necessary?

Grounds for Divorce

Virginia law recognizes two types of divorce: divorce from bed and board (mensa et thoro) and a divorce from the bond of matrimony (a vinculo matrimonii). A divorce from bed and board is a partial or qualified divorce under which a husband and wife are legally separated from each other but are not permitted to remarry. A divorce from the bond of matrimony is a complete and absolute divorce. Any person granted a divorce from bed and board may ask the court to “merge” the decree into a divorce from the bond of matrimony after at least one year has passed from the date the parties originally separated.

The law requires that “grounds” (valid reasons for divorce prescribed by law) for divorce must exist and be proven to the court even if the husband and wife agree that a marriage should end. These grounds are briefly described below.

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Separation divorce—the “No Fault” divorce

While grounds for divorce traditionally implied misconduct by one or the other spouse, modern divorce laws do not require “fault” grounds for a divorce to be granted. A “no fault” divorce from the bond of matrimony may be awarded upon a showing that for more than one year the husband and wife both intended to and have continuously lived separate and apart without any cohabitation. If the husband and wife have entered into a Property Settlement or Separation Agreement and there are no minor children, the time period is reduced from one year to six months.

Although separation provides a “faultless” ground for divorce, fault may still be an issue when spousal support (alimony) is being sought. Further, a judge is free to award a divorce on fault grounds even though “no fault” separation grounds exist.

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Adultery

Proving adultery is very fact-specific. The evidence must be strict, satisfactory and conclusive that the other spouse did in fact engage in sexual relations with another person. While there must be some corroboration of the testimony of a spouse to prove adultery, “eyewitness” testimony as to the adulterous acts is not required. In fact, most cases of adultery are proven without eyewitness testimony by using other evidence of the circumstances involved.

The “guilty” spouse has a number of “defenses” to the charge of adultery, sodomy or buggery. If the guilty spouse can successfully establish any one of these defenses, then a divorce will not be awarded on these grounds.

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Uncontested vs. Contested Divorces

Uncontested divorces typically can be resolved for a reasonable flat fee.

  • 6-month Divorces
  • 12-month Divorces

Virginia statutes now provide for the “equitable” distribution of the marital property between the parties at the conclusion of the divorce. “Marital property” consists of all jointly-titled property as well as all other property, other than separate property, acquired by either or both of the parties from the date of the marriage through the time of the final separation. “Separate property” is property owned by one party prior to the marriage, property acquired after the parties have separated, inherited property and/or gifts to one party from a third person. Where “marital property” and “separate property” are mixed together or where the value of “separate property” is increased through the active efforts of either party during the marriage, then such property may be classified as “marital property” or as “part marital and part separate” property.

In equitably dividing the marital estate, the courts may order monetary awards to one of the parties, divide the property, order the property sold or transfer jointly-titled marital property to one of the parties. Under Virginia's system of “equitable distribution,” the court is not required to divide the marital property on an equal basis. Instead, the court will consider various factors listed in the Virginia equitable distribution statute, including the relative monetary and non-monetary contributions of each of the parties to the well being of the family and to the acquisition and care of the marital property, when determining how to divide the marital assets. Pensions and retirement plans that were accumulated during the course of the marriage are also subject to division by the Court as part of its equitable distribution award. However, by statute, neither party can receive more than one-half of the amount of the other party's pension or retirement plan that accumulated during the marriage.

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Spousal Support

Given the increasing changes to both the law and society, this area of divorce law is in the process of great change. Under recent changes in the Virginia law, the fault of a spouse in causing a divorce may no longer be a complete bar to obtaining spousal support. However, the court will consider the cause of separation as a factor in determining whether or not to award spousal support.

Spousal support is not awarded to punish a guilty spouse. Rather, it is provided to lessen the financial impact of divorce on the party who is less financially independent. The amount awarded for support depends upon such factors as the respective ages of the parties, assets and earning potential of the parties and the duration and history of the marriage. The court may award spousal support in periodic payments and/or in a lump. Periodic payments could be awarded for either a set number of years or an indefinite period of time.

Spousal support does not have to be awarded when the divorce is granted. Instead, the parties may seek a “reservation” of the right to seek spousal support in the future. This reservation will generally last for one half of the length of the marriage.

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Custody

This is the crucial issue in most divorces. In determining the custody of minor (under eighteen) children, the court is guided by one standard‹the best interest of the child. The court may award “joint legal custody"? where both parents have a role in making decisions for the child, or “sole legal custody"? where one parent is ultimately responsible for making decisions in the child's best interests. Custody will not be given to a parent as a reward or deprived from a parent as a punishment. Rather, custody will be awarded to the parent who is most adaptable to the task of caring for the child, and who is able to control and direct the child. Further, custody may be changed if there is a marital change in circumstances after the date of the divorce.

Factors considered by the court when awarding custody may include the age of the parent and child, the physical and mental condition of each parent and child, the relationship existing between each parent and each child, the needs of the child, the role played by each parent in the upbringing and caring for the child, the home where the child will live and the child's wishes if the child is of sufficient age, intelligence, and maturity to make such a decision.

Another important factor to the court in establishing most custody arrangements is which parent will be the most likely to see to it that the non-custodial parent remains a strong part of the child or children's lives. Often the court will fashion living arrangements such that the child, at least during the school year, will reside primarily with one parent. The other parent will receive visitation with the child. Visitation rights will normally be set by the court if the parents cannot voluntarily agree upon satisfactory arrangements.

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Child Support

Normally the party receiving visitation will be called upon to contribute to the support of the minor child. This could be an obligation of the mother, the father, or both, if a third person has custody of the child. The court is guided by the needs of the child and the ability of the supporting parent or parents to pay. The use of the state child support guidelines provides an amount of child support that is presumed to be correct, but the court may deviate from these guidelines in appropriate circumstances. The award is subject to change so long as the obligation to support remains. The child support amount may be increased or decreased if a material change occurs in the circumstances of either or both of the parents or of the child. Non-custodial parents who have their children for more than 90 days per year for visitation have their child support calculated using a different formula that is likely to make the support lower. The court may also require a party to maintain an existing life insurance policy to provide financial security for a child in the event that the parent obligated to pay child support dies.

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Property Settlement Agreement

Rather than having the court rule upon the issues in the case, parties have the option of reaching a voluntary agreement resolving their concerns raised in the divorce. The court will enforce the agreement once it is in writing, signed, sworn to by both parties, and properly notarized. Oral agreements dividing the marital property may also be enforceable, but the terms of oral agreements are very difficult to prove to the court. A Property Settlement Agreement is a written contract between the parties that sets forth their rights, duties and obligations that arise out of their separation and divorce and may include such things as the division of their property, spousal support, attorney's fees, custody of their children, and child support. Such agreements are encouraged since they may amicably settle the rights of the husband and wife in the estate and property of the other. An attorney's skill and experience can be especially helpful in negotiating and drafting a fair, just, and reasonable Property Settlement Agreement for the parties and their children.

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Are Attorneys Necessary?

Although an attorney is technically not required in a divorce proceeding, each spouse should obtain separate legal counsel if there are issues in the divorce that may be contested, property rights need to be determined, or the custody of the children is in dispute. The same attorney cannot represent both sides in a divorce case because there will be a conflict of interest.

A husband or wife who employs an attorney should discuss with the attorney his or her fees and make satisfactory arrangements to pay them. Quite often, a lawyer will require an initial payment made prior to the attorney starting work, called a retainer.

Depending on the circumstances, one spouse may be called upon to pay or contribute to the attorney fees and court costs incurred by the other. Whether either party has to pay all or a portion of the other party's attorneys fees are a matter left to the discretion of the court.


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