As a criminal defense lawyer, sometimes you have to give prospective clients a little tough love. I’ve had to tell people, “Ignorance of the law is not a viable defense.”
Didn’t know the speed limit was only 35 miles per hour and you were driving 60? That won’t stop a cop from giving you a ticket
. Didn’t know that it isn’t legal to drive with snow and ice piled atop your vehicle?
The fact that you weren’t aware you were breaking a law won’t stop you from being prosecuted for it.
With all that said, now seemed like a good time to repeat that statement as a general heads-up, considering that it’s a new year, with laws enacted in 2014 effective now.
West Virginia, specifically, has some new laws of interest to criminal defense lawyers like myself – ones that should also be of interest to all residents.
What kind of new laws, you ask? Well, for one, a law banning the sale of electronic cigarettes and other so-called alternative nicotine devices.
One newly enacted law restricts parental rights of child custody and visitation when the child was conceived as result of a sexual assault or sexual abuse, while another expands the definition of financial exploitation of the elderly.
Of particular interest to this criminal defense lawyer who routinely represents folks charged with DUI deals with the revocation period associated with that offense. The law, which allows DUI offenders to forgo a license suspension and waive DMV hearings in order to enter the ignition interlock program more quickly, has already been lauded by the state Division of Motor Vehicles.
One new West Virginia law bans the sale of synthetic hallucinogenic drugs, while another modifies the definition of battery and domestic battery.
The takeaway? In the words of G.I. Joe, knowing is half the battle. But if you end up getting charged for being in violation of one of these new laws and need a West Virginia criminal defense lawyer to help with the other half of the battle, just give me a call.