Coates & Davenport, P.C.

Richmond Legal Blog

Virginia law takes speeding very seriously

Oftentimes motorists drive faster than the posted speed limit. They may not know what the speed limit is in the area they are driving, they may simply think they are driving the speed of traffic, or they may think that going five to ten miles per hour over the speed limit is no big deal. After all, speeding is something most motorists have done at least once.

As in any state, if a person receives a speeding ticket in Virginia they may be fined. However, in Virginia if a person is caught driving 20 mph over the posted speed limit they may be criminally charged with reckless driving. This is a very serious situation.

A letter of instruction can complement an estate plan

It is important for people in Richmond to have an air-tight estate plan. This may include having a will or trust (or both), power of attorney for health care, a living will, financial power of attorney and more. An estate plan can be complex. To help ensure loved ones fully understand one's intentions for their estate plan, it may help to draft a letter of instruction. While this is not a legally-enforceable document, it can provide clarity.

This letter can include details on medical care, funeral preferences and the distribution of property that the will or other estate planning documents cannot contain. In the end, the plain language in a letter of instruction helps the individual selected to settle the estate know how to proceed.

What types of business entities are there in Virginia?

Forming a business in our state requires choosing a business entity. Of course, some people will go at it alone as a sole proprietorship. However, when two or more people wish to form a business together, they have a choice as to the type of entity they want to form. Today, we will look at corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and limited partnerships.

A corporation is an entity that for legal purposes is considered an "artificial person." It is operated by a board of directors. In our state, there are stock corporations and nonstock corporations. Stock corporations have shareholders how own shares in the business. Nonstock corporations have members, but the members do not have ownership shares. In general, the officers and shareholders of a corporation are shielded from personal liability for the acts of the corporation.

Without a ticket, can an officer prove probable cause in a DUI case?

A police officer pulls you over at 1:30 a.m. He claims you were going 67 MPH in a 55 MPH zone and asks to see your driver's license and registration. You hand it over. The officer goes back to his squad car.

When he comes back, he asks you a few questions and you start to feel like he's looking for something. Sure enough, he eventually asks you to take a breath test, claiming you were slurring your words and that you smell like alcohol. You have been drinking, so you fail the test and are arrested.

When is a dog owner liable for a bite?

No one wants to believe their dog is aggressive. Our dogs are our best friends, travel partners and family members. However, our best friends can make a mistake and bite someone. It helps for owners to know their responsibilities in case of a dog bite.


Football player pulled over by police, accused of drug dealing

Being accused of a crime can damage anyone's reputation, but this damage is only amplified when the accused is a celebrity. Celebrities live their life in the public eye, so any alleged wrongdoing can quickly be blown out of proportion, even if they are innocent. However, should a celebrity claim they were the victim of police misconduct, this too will likely make the nightly news.

For example, Paul Richardson, who is a wide receiver for the Washington Redskins, was pulled over by the police at a Virginia toll lane, and received a citation for having a temporary registration on his new Mercedes. What makes this situation notable, however, is the questions the officer asked him during the traffic stop. Richardson claims the officer asked him if he was a member of a gang. Richardson also claims that the officer told him he believed Richardson dealt drugs. Finally, Richardson claims the officer asked how much he paid for his vehicle. According to Richardson, he has a maximum of two months under Virginia law to register his vehicle.

There are many good reasons, besides taxes, for estate planning

People in Virginia may wonder, "Should I have an estate plan?" After all, thinking about one's death is unpleasant, and some people may want to avoid making the tough decisions that must be made in the estate planning process. Moreover, when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was passed, it increased the federal estate tax threshold two-fold to $11.8 million. As far as estate planning goes, this means that fewer people will be subject to the estate tax upon their death. Some people may think, then, that they do not need a will or trust, because the estate tax will not apply to them.

However, estate planning is still important. First, let's talk about probate. If a person does not have a trust, after they die their property will go through probate. This is the legal process in which a person's property is distributed to their heirs. If a person has no will and no trust, the state decides who will inherit their property, and it may not be to a person's liking. Moreover, the probate process can be lengthy, costing both time and money that diminishes the size of the estate.

Virginia courts may consider certain factors in property division

Some of the hardest decisions a couple going through a divorce in Virginia will have to make have to do with dividing their property. After all, over the course of their marriage they may have accumulated many highly-valuable assets such as a house, vacation home, artwork, investments, retirement accounts and more. Moreover, there are assets that may not necessarily have a high retail value, but have a high sentimental value. While some couples are able to work out their property division issues on their own, others may need to look to the court to determine how some or all of their property will be divided.

With regards to property division, Virginia courts follow the law of "equitable distribution." What this means is that the court will divide the couple's assets in a manner that is fair, even if that does not mean an exact 50/50 split. Once the decision has been made as to what property is separate and what is marital (a topic that goes beyond the scope of this post), the court will consider a number of factors when making property division decisions.

Eight Virginia college students facing drug charges

Many young adults in Virginia take their college studies very seriously. They hope that, by doing well in their classes, they will graduate and be able to find a good job. However, there are certain things that could jeopardize a student's higher education goals. For example, students accused of committing a crime may find their entire future is at stake.

Eight students at the College of William and Mary, along with a college staff member and a visiting professor are all facing criminal charges after police seized what they claimed were illegal drugs. The seized drugs reportedly include marijuana, opioids, cocaine and LSD, among others. These individuals were charged with drug distribution. The arrests came after police received information complaining that an uptick in drug use on campus was leading to unreported sex crimes. The investigation is still ongoing, and hearings have been scheduled.

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