How long are initial consultations?    Initial consultations usually last no more than one hour, unless more time is specifically requested prior to the consultation or during the consultation.

Is there a fee for a consultation?   No, we do not charge a fee for a consultation with regard to criminal or traffic charges.  There may however be a fee for a consultations with our domestic and family law attorney but please give us a call to discuss.

How do I schedule an initial consultation? Contact our office at (703) 383-0100 and we would be happy to have an initial consultation scheduled for you.

How do I make the most of my initial consultation and what should I bring with me?    You will obtain the maximum information and advice from your initial consultation if you bring the following:

  • A financial statement showing current assets and debts. Note any assets or property which you received through inheritance or by way of gift or bequest from someone other than your spouse, or are derived in whole or in part from pre-marital assets.
  • A short chronology of the marriage (e.g. date of marriage, names and dates of birth of children, purchases of major assets, and how problems leading to the dissolution of the marriage developed over time).
  • Current income information for both parties in the event that there is a spousal support or child support issue which must be addressed and calculated.
  • A list of specific questions that you would like to have answered during the conference.
  • If you have already been served with papers on behalf of your spouse, or if you are presently engaged in a divorce suit, or if you are in a modification or enforcement proceeding, bring copies of all correspondence, court papers, and documents you have received to date.
  • Any signed agreements, particularly pre-nuptial agreements should there be one between you and your spouse.
  • If you provide asset, debt, income, marital chronology documentation, court papers in ongoing suits, and a listing of your specific questions, so the attorney can better determine the issues involved, what will be required, and make sure that all of your questions are answered. Your prior preparation will make an efficient and thorough consultation possible.
  • The original Uniformed Summons
  • Any contracts or documents that are in dispute.

This is not an all-inclusive list. Please be sure to inquire if any additional items are needed when you schedule the initial consultation.[/expand]

Will the attorney that I see for my initial consultation be handling all aspects of my case?  Not necessarily. There are smaller tasks in every case that can be effectively and more economically handled by another attorney, paralegal, or law clerk. Your attorney may assign certain tasks to an assistant attorney, paralegal, or law clerk as he or she deems appropriate. The primary attorney in your case will handle major trials, hearings, and complicated motions, and other matters for which you specifically request his or her presence. The firm clients often have motions and other trial matters that may overlap in the same court or different courts.  For these scheduling conflicts you will be represented by a highly qualified attorney from our firm.

Once I have had an initial consultation with an attorney in the firm, does the firm represent me?  No. You must sign a written agreement and pay the fee or security deposit to our firm to retain our services as your attorney.

If I retain the firm to represent me, how are cases billed?  Cases are billed in increments of one-tenths of an hour at the rate of the attorney, paralegal, or law clerk working on your case at any given time. This is done in accordance with a detailed written contract for services referred to as the retainer agreement. The firm sends monthly statements to clients detailing billable hours charged and costs.

What are examples of “costs”? Costs consist of services requires in your case. This would include, but is not limited to, court reports, copying charges, postage, couriers, private detectives, process servers, experts and court fees.

Who is responsible for paying “costs”?  You are.

How can I make a payment? We have a number of options available to our clients for making a payment.  You can use the “Make a Payment” tab on our website or you can call or email Amber Mitton with your credit card information.  We accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express.  You can also pay with cash, personal check, bank draft or money order by mail or in person.  You can also tender payment by setting up an automatic deduction from your account using your bank’s bill pay service.

My accountant needs the Federal Tax ID number for Dycio & Biggs to complete my taxes.  It is 54-1840178.

How do I prepare for Court?

Most people have not been required to appear in court on a frequent basis, for either personal or professional reasons. We understand that as your court date approached you may not know what to expect and you will naturally be nervous. Don’t hesitate to call your attorney if you have questions after your initial meeting. We are here to represent you and answer your questions.

The person/persons who will decide your case, the Judge or Jury, will make judgments about you based upon your physical appearance and how you conduct yourself in court. As a general rule, you should dress in a neat and professional manner. You should be polite and professional to everyone, even if they are on the other side. If you have any questions during your case, ask your attorney for a piece of paper to jot down your questions. Understanding how your case will proceed once you have arrived in Court will reduce your tension and help you to assist us in achieving the best possible result for you.

Family Law

Can you see me for an initial consultation if you have already seen my spouse? No. If any attorney in the firm has seen your spouse for an initial consultation, we will be unable to meet with you since it will be considered a conflict of interest.

My spouse & I have reached an agreement and need someone to prepare it. Can you represent me & my spouse for this purpose? No. Under no circumstances do we represent both parties. We represent only your interests and act as your advocate.

How do I know if my divorce is uncontested? Agreeing to get a divorce doesn’t make your case “uncontested”.  Rather, it means all issues related to your marriage (such as child custody and visitation arrangements, distribution of assets, and spousal support, to name a few) have been resolved and there is nothing left for the court to do but determine whether you are eligible for a divorce.  In most cases, that will mean you and your spouse have signed a written agreement resolving these issues.

Do I need a lawyer to get a divorce in Virginia? You can file for divorce without a lawyer, but in most cases, our clients have asked for our help because they don’t want to deal with the complexities of getting a divorce on their own.

How long do I need to be separated before I can file for divorce in Virginia? If you have children with your spouse who are younger than 18, you must wait 12 months; otherwise, the waiting period is 6 months.  However, if you do not have a written agreement resolving all your issues (see “How do I know if my divorce is uncontested?” above), you will have to wait 12 months before filing, even if you have children or they are all over the age of 18.

What if I am still living with my spouse?  Can I still get a divorce? The answer depends on several factors, such as whether one or both spouses had the continuous intent to remain separated, how the separation is structured (such as whether you are sleeping in separate bedrooms or separate parts of the home), whether anyone can testify on your behalf to establish the separation, and the court/judge hearing your case.

Can you give me an estimate of how much this will cost? Unless your case is uncontested (see “How do I know if my divorce is uncontested?” above), there is no way to determine how much your case will cost.  Factors include how much is at stake (whether you and your spouse agree about the terms of custody and visitation, for example, or if you have a very complicated estate with many assets or large liabilities) and how much or how little you or your spouse is willing to compromise.  Contested cases that go to trial are nearly always very expensive.  We can talk to you about ways to minimize the cost.

Alcoholic Beverage Control

How do you obtain an ABC license in Virginia? By submitting an application on forms provided by the ABC Department. You may contact any of the ABC Regional and Satellite Offices.

There are two (2) types of applications:

  1. Retail (Permanent license for businesses)
  2. Banquet (One (1) day temporary license)

How long does it take to get a retail license? A banquet license? Retail license applicants should apply at least sixty (60) days prior to the scheduled opening date. Banquet license applicants should apply at least seven (7) days prior to the date of the event.

When it is appropriate to get a one day banquet license? Whenever alcoholic beverages are being sold, dispensed in a public place, where food is sold for compensation, on the premises of a club, and to purchase alcoholic beverages from a wholesaler.

Are ABC licenses transferable? No.

Corporate Law

Does your firm provide registered agent services? Yes, our firm is happy to provide registered agent services to business owners within the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Please call our office for more details about how we can help protect your business.

Civil Litigation

What is a civil suit? In the context of what we do, it is usually involving a breach of contract. A person is compensated for the breach by an award of money in a judgment. It can also involve Injunctions to stop a business or individual from doing something, or ordering them that they must do something.

 What is the jurisdictional limit of General District Court? $25,000.00. Anything above that amount would be brought in Circuit Court.

What is the difference between a class-action lawsuit, civil suit, and criminal suit? A class-action lawsuit is a lawsuit seeking monetary award for damages done to a large number of people. Frequent class-action lawsuits occur against corporations for some product defectiveness or defective drug problem.

A class action lawsuit typically does not get the individual plaintiffs much money in awards, but class action suits are effective in changing a company’s practices or getting faulty products out of the market. Personal injury lawsuits can use the class-action status if many people were injured in the same way.

A civil suit is any lawsuit filed against someone else (or some entity) seeking monetary compensation. Personal injury lawsuits are a type of civil suit, though so are many other kinds of lawsuits depending on the type of redress sought or type of crime committed.
Criminal lawsuits are a kind of suit filed by the government against individuals or entities (such as companies) seeking social redress. Criminal lawsuits seek some form of punishment not limited to monetary fine, including incarceration, probation, or other forms of law enforcement action.

Criminal Law

What is an arraignment hearing and I do I need a lawyer present for it? At an arraignment, the charges that have been brought against you will be read by the Court and you will be offered the option of seeking counsel to represent you.  During the arraignment hearing, the Court will also set a date for your trial or preliminary hearing.  You are not required to have an attorney present at your arraignment hearing but if you’ve already retained the services of an attorney, they may be present.

How can I obtain a certified copy of the final disposition of my criminal case? The Court can provide you with a copy of the final disposition.

If my criminal case is dismissed or nolle prosequi (withdraw) by the Commonwealth, may I have the records expunged? Yes. If the charge has been dismissed or withdrawn by the prosecutor, (nolle prosequi), a person may petition the Circuit Court for expungement of the police records and the court records. Virginia law requires that the petitioner obtain a copy of his/her fingerprints from a law enforcement agency so that a criminal record check can be completed. If it is shown that the dissemination of the criminal record of the dismissal could cause the petitioner an injustice, the court will enter the order of expungement.

What are the penalties for DWI? A number of factors can alter the punishment for a person convicted of a Virginia DWI. Judges will often consider your prior driving record, whether there was an accident, etc. However, certain minimum punishments apply. The minimum punishment for a Virginia DWI depends on how high the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was and whether the driver has prior DWI’s. As with any criminal case, simply being charged in a certain category doesn’t mean you will be found guilty in the same category. We strive to minimize punishments regardless of the category. (Ignition interlock – a device that measures your BAC before you can drive your car – is required for all DWI convictions.)

What happens if I get caught driving while my license is suspended for DWI? If your license is suspended for DWI and you are caught driving, you may be charged with driving on a suspended license. You may be charged under the same section if you are caught driving outside your restrictions or if you are caught driving with any level of alcohol in your blood. This can be a very serious charge. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500.00 fine. Additionally, the DMV will automatically suspend your license for an additional year with no possibility of getting a restricted license. Finally, if you had suspended jail time from a previous DWI conviction, you may be subject to having some or all of your suspended time imposed.

What is VASAP/ASAP? ASAP, or sometimes referred to as VASAP, is the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program. By law, all individuals convicted of a DWI in the state of Virginia are required to complete the program. Additionally, a condition of your restricted license will be full compliance with the ASAP program. The program begins with an initial intake evaluation. During the evaluation, you will be assigned a counselor, who will discuss with you your prior record, your drinking behavior and a number of other factors that impact your risk status. After determining your risk status, your counselor will create a program of treatment. You will be required to comply with all program assignments and maintain contact with your counselor. Violations of the terms of ASAP can result in the imposition of some or all of your suspended jail time.

What’s an ignition interlock device? In simple terms, an ignition interlock device is a type of breath testing device that is installed in your vehicle. Once the device is in place, you will be unable to operate your vehicle until you perform a breath test. If the test reveals that you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02% or more, the engine will lock and the vehicle’s horn and lights will go off.

Of course, your vehicle will remain operable as long as you pass the breath test. However, after starting the engine, you must also take several “rolling retests” while you are driving—this is to ensure you don’t have someone else take the test for you. If you fail the test, you can be called back to court and face additional penalties—including possible jail time—as a result.

If you are ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will be notified and a restricted license will be issued to you. Although this license allows you to retain your driving privileges, it also prohibits you from driving any vehicle that does not have an ignition interlock device installed in it. If you are caught operating a vehicle without the device, you will once again face additional penalties for violating the terms of your sentence.

Why was my license suspended for 7 days when I was arrested? Virginia law requires the automatic suspension of your Virginia driver’s license for 7 days if your breath test result was more than .08, or more than .02 if you are under 21 years of age, or if you refused to submit to the breath test.

Can I get my license back prior to the expiration of the 7 day period? You can challenge the suspension during the suspension period. If your challenge is successful your license to drive will be reinstated immediately. Otherwise, you cannot drive during the 7 day suspension period, and your license will be returned to you at the expiration of the suspension period.

What happens at the arraignment? At the arraignment, the Court will make sure you understand the charge against you, inform you of your right to be represented by an attorney and inform you of your next court date.

How many points will be on my driving record? Understand, the DMV is who will assess points on your driving record, NOT the Court. Please refer to the DMV’s website for further information.

Getting through the criminal justice system For more information, Download this PDF.

Trust & Estate

What is a Durable Power of Attorney? A Durable Power of Attorney can allow you to choose a person you trust to handle as many affairs as you’re designate in that Power of Attorney. Their powers can be very limited or very extensive. As long as you are alive, it will be in full force and effect, unless revoked.

What is an Advanced Medical Directive? An Advanced Medical Directive allows you to designate a trusted person to make decision regarding what level of care you desire, should you be, for example, in grave condition with minimal chance of recovery, or not lucid.

What is probate tax? This is the tax due at the time that executor is qualified before the court, which is minimal. Based on current federal law, the vast majority of the states will not have to deal with the federal estate tax. Income taxes do have to be paid for income prorated by the state from the date of death to when the estate is closed. The executor is closed. The executor is normally responsible for filing a personal income tax return.

What is required of an Executor and Administrator? In sum, they are legally responsible for making sure that all the necessary steps are taken to comply with laws regarding creditors, taxation and distribution of assets to beneficiaries.