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Tuomey Law Firm Blog

Drug Dealer Sentenced to 41 Years in Prison for 2001 Manassas Murder

On Wednesday, July 20, 2016, Justin Wolfe was sentenced to 29 to 41 years in prison for the 2001 murder of a fellow drug dealer, Daniel Petrole. Wolfe was 19 years old when he allegedly conspired with Owen Barber to kill Petrole, who was a supplier in Wolfe's drug ring. News reports claim Wolfe owed Petrole $66,000, and that the murder was an effort to get out from under the debt. Petrole died after being shot nine times.

For years Wolfe denied he had any part in the murder, but admitted he was a drug dealer. Wolfe only admitted that he was involved in the murder recently, and for nearly 15 years as he sat in prison, had many supporters of his innocence including a federal judge who heard Wolfe's appeal. Wolfe's supporters believed an innocent man was on his way to being executed because of the efforts of malicious prosecutors to hide the truth.

Prosecutors were accused of withholding evidence that could have set Wolfe free in his appeals. The case was re-investigated by a Fairfax County prosecutor when Wolfe was retried on the charges. The prosecutor determined that defense theories implicating a third person in the murder were implausible. Ultimately, a plea deal was secured that required Wolfe to admit to the Petrole family what he did in exchange for removing the death penalty sentence.

The victim was the son of a decorated Secret Service agent; for years Wolfe had maintained the victim's murder was the work of a rogue drug associate. Wolfe often made these claims from death row. His capital murder conviction and death sentence were reversed and he was released in 2012 on a federal district judge's order, however he ultimately pleaded guilty to a drug charge, use of a firearm, and first-degree felony murder. Wolfe will get credit for the 15 years served, which means at the most he may spend 26 years in prison.

While this is an unusual case, it does reflect what can happen when individuals deal in illegal drugs. In most cases a person may be charged with possession, possession with intent to distribute, distribution, manufacturing, etc. The penalties for a drug conviction can be extremely serious depending on the specific charge and other factors. Anyone facing drug charges should consult with an Arlington criminal defense attorney immediately.


Underage Occupants in Vienna Vehicle Stop Charged with Possession of Alcohol

Recently, a vehicle was stopped in Vienna when MPO (Master Police Officer) Smith noticed a traffic infraction. While news reports did not reveal what the infraction was, Smith talked with the driver of the vehicle and as he did, noticed a container of alcohol in the front passenger seat floorboard. According to reports, all individuals in the vehicle were younger than 21.

A passenger in the car allegedly attempted to deceive officers by presenting a fake driver's license. The driver of the vehicle, an 18-year-old man from Madrigal Way, Vienna, is now facing a charge of possession of alcohol underage. A passenger in the vehicle from Fairfax who was 18 years old was also charged with possession of alcohol underage, along with possession of a fictitious (fake) operator's license. Both were issued summons and released on their signatures.

In Virginia, underage possession of alcohol is a Class 1 misdemeanor. While misdemeanor offenses are not as serious as felony offenses, those charged may still face punishment which include up to one year in jail, a maximum of $2,500 in fines, and loss of the privilege to drive for six months. Additionally, while a misdemeanor charge may not seem all that serious, those convicted will have a criminal record and face a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or must perform 50 hours of community service.

Unfortunately, a mistake made by those who are between the ages of 18 and 21 can affect your life indefinitely. For instance, if you're charged with underage possession of alcohol the details will be available to anyone who is checking your background whether you are 25, 40, or 65. This can affect employment opportunities, housing, securing a loan, and many other aspects of your life.

In the state of Virginia, statute 4.1-305 states that any individual listed in Virginia Code 4.1-304 is prohibited from purchasing, possessing, consuming, or attempting to do any of the above in regards to alcoholic beverages. There are a handful of exceptions to this statute, including when an individual is employed and his/her position requires the delivery of alcohol, or a parent requests a child younger than 21 years of age to deliver or carry alcohol. Additionally, a police or law enforcement officer who is younger than 21 may be engaged in a mission (such as an undercover operation) that requires he/she possess alcohol.

Ultimately, if you are between the ages of 18 and 21 and have been charged with underage possession of alcohol it is highly recommended you seek the legal guidance and support of an experienced Arlington criminal defense attorney. Police make mistakes, just like anyone else. Your rights may have been violated, or you may have been pulled over without reasonable suspicion. No matter what the circumstances may be, a skilled lawyer will work to ensure the best possible results are secured in your case.


Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Bank Robbery in MN

Recently, 33-year-old Charles Firebaugh, a Virginia native, pleaded guilty to robbing a Hibbing, MN bank in December of last year. Firebaugh also admitted he threatened to shoot a teller; he entered his guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Authorities claim that on December 23, Firebaugh robbed a bank located inside a Hibbing Walmart, then spent some of the money on lottery tickets.

Firebaugh made his escape with $770 in cash, according to news reports. He was arrested at a later date in Virginia at a relative's home, after surveillance videos were posted on the Hibbing Police Department's Facebook page and family members recognized him. In his plea agreement with prosecutors, Firebaugh tentatively faces prison time of between 37 and 57 months.

In the state of Virginia, those convicted of robbery face a prison term of five years to life, depending on the circumstances. Some factors that impact the punishment a defendant will face if found guilty include criminal history, whether a weapon was used in the commission of the crime, whether a victim was physically harmed or threatened, and more.

Virginia Code Section 18.2-58 is the only statute regarding robbery in the state. All types of offenses are considered robbery, whether a person is accused of armed robbery, robbing a person on the street, strong arm robbery, or even bank robbery. The use of a weapon automatically increases the punishment a person will face under the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines.

Prosecutors must prove very specific elements of a particular crime in order for a defendant to be found guilty. For instance, to prove the crime of robbery, the prosecutor must prove the offender took property or money from a person intentionally and intended to deprive the owner permanently of that money or property. In addition, intimidation or violence in the taking of the property or money must be proven.

The laws regarding larceny and robbery are quite confusing to most people. Anyone who is facing charges of robbery or is under investigation should consult with a skilled Arlington criminal defense attorney immediately. It is important to ensure your legal rights are protected from the start; never answer questions or provide information to police without first speaking with a lawyer. Criminal charges do not always result in a conviction; your attorney will work with you to determine all possible legal options, to develop a solid defense, and in some cases it may be possible to have charges dismissed or reduced.



Robert McDonnell Enters Alford Plea in November 2015 DUI Charges

In November of last year, 23-year-old Robert McDonnell, son of former Governor Bob McDonnell, was charged with DUI and refusing to take a blood/breath test. Now, according to news reports, McDonnell has entered an Alford plea to those charges.

Basically, an Alford plea means the individual charged acknowledges there is sufficient evidence to be convicted, however does not admit guilt. Media reports state that McDonnell was ordered by the judge to pay a $250 fine and be on good behavior for a period of two years. His six month jail sentence was suspended, and his driver's license suspended for one year as well.

In addition, the charge for refusing to submit to a blood/breath test was deferred for one year. As long as McDonnell avoids committing any new DUI or traffic offenses and complies with conditions, the refusal charge may be dismissed when the one year period is up. This is reportedly McDonnell's first DUI offense, and he has no criminal record.

Those convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia face serious consequences, even for a first DUI offense which is a misdemeanor. Penalties may include fines of up to $2,500 along with a one-year suspension of the offender's driver's license. This applies when the accused individual's BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is .08% or higher, however a BAC of 0.15% or more will result in increased penalties including a minimum of five days in jail.

Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is serious, and leaves those convicted facing harsh punishment. A second or third DWI offense will result in increased fines and jail time, along with other possible consequences. A third offense within ten years is a felony charge. If you have been charged with driving while intoxicated, consult with an Arlington DUI defense lawyer right away. It may be possible to have charges dismissed or reduced depending on the facts of your case.