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Leesburg Virginia Drunk Driving Defense Law Blog

Study finds some psychology tests used in court may be invalid

People in Virginia who are facing felony charges might be required to take IQ or psychology tests that are not well-regarded by psychologists. According to a study that appeared in "Psychological Science in the Public Interest," around 33% of tests used by courts did not receive a review in major psychological publications. Among those that did, around one-quarter were considered unreliable, and just 40% were favorably reviewed.

The study used data from 876 court cases throughout the country from 2016 to 2018. It found that the most widely used test, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, is largely favorably regarded by psychologists. However, the second most widely applied test is the inkblot or Rorschach test, and many professionals consider it much too ambiguous. One criminal defense attorney pointed out that judges and attorneys rely on psychologists giving expert testimony to provide professional guidance regarding the reliability of these tests.

How to prepare for a divorce or a spouse's death

Virginia residents might be confident that they can handle their finances no matter what happens to them. However, a new survey from TD Ameritrade found that this may not necessarily be the case. The company surveyed 2,000 adults between the ages of 40 and 79 who had at least $25,000 that they could invest. It found that 87% of respondents were sure that they would be financially secure if their partners passed away or if their marriages ended.

Despite that confidence, 41% of respondents acknowledged that they didn't have a plan in place for managing their money if either of those events took place. Data shows that the divorce rate for those 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2015, and individuals may experience a variety of financial challenges if their marriages come to an end. It might be possible to prepare for those challenges by creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Paper offers suggestions for reducing implicit bias

Attorneys and judges in Virginia might be able to reduce the likelihood that jurors will return verdicts based on implicit racial bias by discussing the phenomenon openly. This was one of the conclusions of a paper written by an Arizona assistant federal public defender that appeared in the "Seattle Journal for Social Justice."

The paper suggested a number of different approaches, including that of an Iowa judge who meets with potential jurors before they are questioned by attorneys to give a PowerPoint presentation on implicit racial bias. Before jury selection even begins, attorneys may seek to have some evidence dismissed if racial bias was an issue with the officer or witnesses. Experts witnesses may also be able to testify about the unreliability of cross-racial identifications.

Deciding whether to settle or go to trial

When couples are considering divorce, settling matters themselves may seem like the most logical and amicable solution. However, there may be times when going to trial is unavoidable. Couples in Virginia who are unwilling or unable to reach an agreement, whether over assets or child custody, may have to leave the decision in the hands of a family court judge.

In most cases, going to trial is more expensive than settling out of court. Trials can take a long time, often a year or more. During that time, the stress of dealing with the demands of the trial while working and taking care of a family can be overwhelming. In addition, they are usually more expensive, with child custody and family law cases frequently racking up bills in the tens of thousands of dollars. Attorneys' fees and court costs can accumulate quickly. However, in cases of a contested divorce, annulment, complex property issues, or any sticking point that one party is completely unwilling to compromise on, continuing to pursue fruitless negotiations may end up being more costly and time-consuming than going to trial.

Lawsuit shows tainted evidence may lead to false allegations

When a person is arrested in Virginia, evidence is a key factor in the case. This is true for relatively minor crimes like marijuana possession and for major crimes like murder. During an investigation, law enforcement is required to adhere to certain protocol in evidence collection. If there is a violation, it could be used as part of the criminal defense.

A case in California in which a detective took a suspect's personal items when he did not have the legal right to do so might have negatively impacted the investigation. In court, the detective admitted that he wrongly took the items. The detective, now retired, was investigating a case in which a man who was employed by the police department as a criminalist was accused of murdering a 14-year-old girl. It was a cold case that happened in 1984.

Reasons women file for divorce

Though women are often portrayed in divorce stereotypes as the ones left behind, more than 70% of divorces are initiated by women. Whether they are seeking an annulment, legal separation, uncontested divorce or contested divorce, there are several main reasons women in Virginia give for ending their marriages.

Some women feel that marriage is holding them back. Most women are in the workforce and are contributing financially to their families. In addition, they are often left doing the majority of the household chores after putting in a full day of work. If their careers take off faster than their husbands' do, they can feel like they have to hide their success for the good of their marriage. They are left feeling like they are doing it all anyway, so they may as well do it alone.

Managing emotions during a divorce

For many Virginia couples, divorce can be a challenging and emotionally difficult time. Where people once felt love for their spouse, it can be all too easy for those feelings to be surmounted by anger and even hatred. While these kinds of negative feelings may be natural during a divorce to some extent, it may be wise not to allow them to guide a legal strategy or approach to divorce negotiations. People may want to share their negative emotions with their friends or a therapist while keeping a clearer, more neutral eye on issues related to child custody or property division.

There are a number of reasons to avoid a high-conflict divorce environment, if possible. In the first place, people can help to keep down their own stress by preventing costly escalations in legal bills. Modeling positive, amicable behavior can also help to inspire similar behavior in an estranged spouse, helping both parties to negotiate a settlement. For couples who will need to share custody of their children, maintaining a baseline level of neutral communication can be important in transitioning to a co-parenting relationship.

Studies find some courts skeptical of abuse claims

When parents in Virginia get a divorce, child custody negotiations can sometimes turn unpleasant. In some cases, one parent may accuse the other of abusing the child. The other parent might counter with a claim that the abuse allegation is untrue and that what is actually happening is a phenomenon known as parental alienation syndrome, in which one parent attempts to turn a child against the other parent.

Although PAS is often cited in contentious divorce cases, some experts say it has little basis in fact. The phrase was originally coined by a child psychiatrist in the 1980s who noticed a large number of child sexual abuse claims during custody battles. He theorized that mothers were making it up in order to get custody. While both mothers and fathers claim PAS in custody cases today, one researcher who did a nationwide study found that it is much more common for fathers who say PAS is happening to get custody than mothers. Mothers who said their children were being physically or sexually abused by their fathers sometimes lost custody altogether.

Drugs and weapons seized during Virginia narcotics sweep

A multi-agency narcotics operation in Virginia on Jan. 22 resulted in five individuals being taken into custody and the seizure of guns and illegal drugs according to the Amelia County Sheriff's Office. All five suspects were being detained at the Piedmont Regional Jail at the time of the report.

The arrests were made when deputies, agents and troopers executed search warrants at properties on Amelia Springs Road and Military Highway in Amelia County. Initial reports do not reveal what led law enforcement to believe that the properties were being used to manufacture, store and distribute illegal narcotics, but they do indicate that undisclosed quantities of controlled substances and several firearms were seized. Deputies from the ACSO were assisted during the operation by Virginia State Police troopers and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Drunk driving deaths up, DUI arrests down in Virginia

Drunk driving deaths have been on the rise in Virginia. However, a recent report by a drug testing company shows that drunk driving arrests in the state are going down.

U.S. Drug Test Centers, which is one of the largest drug testing companies in the nation, analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Federal Bureau of Investigation crime reports to establish the drunk driving rates in all 50 states. It found that Virginia had a DUI arrest rate of 253.4 per 100,000 people, which ranked 37th overall in the country. It also found that the state's DUI arrest rate decreased 11.8% between 2014 and 2018 and 31.4% between 2009 and 2018. Virginia's highest arrest rate was in 2009, with 369.2 arrests per 100,000 people.

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