Best Chesapeake Criminal Lawyers

Best Chesapeake Criminal Lawyers and Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you’re facing criminal charges in Chesapeake, Virginia, having an experienced defense lawyer on your side is crucial. Navigating state and federal criminal cases is complex, and prosecutors typically show no mercy. Just one conviction can derail your life with devastating penalties like jail time, crippling fines, probation, destroyed finances, and a permanent criminal record.

This guide covers Chesapeake’s top-rated criminal defense attorneys. We’ll overview when you need to hire a lawyer, potential legal defenses, key state and federal laws and penalties, and most importantly – what makes certain litigators stand out from the rest. Our goal is to provide the information you need to make the best decision possible if you or a loved one are facing criminal prosecution in Chesapeake. An accomplished lawyer’s skills, knowledge, resources and trial record can make all the difference in achieving the most favorable outcome.

When Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Any time you are under investigation, arrested, charged with or convicted of a crime in Chesapeake, consulting with a criminal lawyer is vital to protect your rights. Specific situations that call for legal counsel include:

  • You are contacted by police or prosecutors regarding an investigation or pending charges
  • You are arrested and jailed, even if no formal charges yet
  • Police attempt to question or interrogate you about alleged crimes
  • Your home, car or possessions are searched
  • You are accused of probation or parole violations
  • There is a warrant issued for your arrest
  • You are charged with traffic violations like DUI or reckless driving
  • You are facing charges of domestic assault, sex crimes or child abuse

Never try to handle criminal cases alone against seasoned police and prosecutors. Experienced legal advice is invaluable.

What Legal Defenses Could Apply in My Case?

Skilled criminal defense attorneys thoroughly examine cases to identify procedural flaws, contest weak evidence and pursue effective legal defenses. Depending on the specifics of your case, potential defenses include:

False Accusations and Mistaken Identity

If you are misidentified or falsely accused, an alibi can prove you were elsewhere and establish mistaken identity. Alibis require solid witness and documentation.

Illegal Search and Seizure

If police lacked probable cause and proper warrants, evidence obtained illegally may be suppressed and inadmissible.


Using reasonable and proportional force to protect yourself or family from harm may be justified self-defense.

Diminished Mental Capacity

Mental defects, lack of intent and inability to form criminal intent could provide defenses. Intoxication may also reduce culpability.


If law enforcement improperly induced you into committing a crime you wouldn’t otherwise, your rights were violated.

Insufficient Evidence

Purely circumstantial, weak or hearsay evidence may not sufficiently prove guilt beyond doubt.

An experienced attorney will pursue every avenue to build the strongest defense.

Overview of Virginia Criminal Laws and Penalties

Potential sentences if convicted of a crime in Virginia vary based on the charges and include:

Larceny/Theft (§ 18.2-95)

  • Petit larceny under $500 – Class 1 misdemeanor, up to 12 months jail, $2,500 fine
  • Grand larceny $500-$1,000 – Class 6 felony, 1-5 years prison, $2,500 fine
  • Felony larceny over $1,000 – Class 5 felony, 1-20 years prison

Harsher charges apply for stealing cars, firearms or through threats/extortion.

Burglary (§ 18.2-89)

  • Simple burglary – Class 5 felony, 1-10 years prison
  • Burglary while armed, with weapon – Class 3 felony, 5-20 years prison
  • Committing assault during burglary – Class 2 felony, 20 years to life imprisonment

Illegal entry with intent to commit larceny or other crime escalates charges.

Assault and Battery (§ 18.2-57)

  • Simple assault – Class 1 misdemeanor, 12 months jail, $2,500 fine
  • Assault and battery – Class 1 misdemeanor, 12 months jail, $2,500 fine
  • Aggravated malicious assault – Class 3 felony, 5-20 years prison
  • Assault on family member – Class 1 misdemeanor or Class 6 felony

Use of a weapon or causing serious injury elevates charges to felony status.

Drug Charges (§ 18.2-247)

  • Marijuana possession under 1/2 ounce – Class 1 misdemeanor, 12 months jail, $2,500 fine
  • Marijuana possession 1/2 – 5 lbs – Class 5 felony, 1-10 years prison, $2,500 fine
  • Cocaine possession over 1/2 gram – Class 5 felony
  • Heroin possession over 1/2 gram – Class 5 felony
  • Intent to distribute Schedule I & II drugs – Class 3-5 felonies

Penalties based on drug type and amount. Trafficking charges are felonies.

DUI/DUID Charges (§ 18.2-266)

  • 1st offense DUI – Class 1 misdemeanor, 12 months jail, $2,500 fine
  • 2nd offense within 5-10 years – Class 1 misdemeanor or Class 6 felony
  • 3rd offense within 5-10 years – Class 6 felony, 1-5 years prison
  • DUI manslaughter – Class 5 felony, 1-10 years prison

Fines, license suspension, jail time, and felonies result.

Sex Crimes (§§ 18.2-61, 18.2-366)

  • Indecent exposure – Class 1 misdemeanor, 12 months jail, $2,500 fine
  • Sexual assault – Class 6 felony, 1-5 years prison
  • Forcible sodomy – Class 6 felony
  • Object sexual penetration – Class 4 felony, 2-10 years prison
  • Rape – Class 2 felony, 20 years to life in prison

Lifetime sex offender registration required upon conviction.

This overview shows the extreme penalties you could face if convicted – so hiring an experienced attorney is critical. Now let’s look at Chesapeake’s top criminal lawyers.

Best Local Criminal Defense Lawyers in Chesapeake, VA

Benjamin Smith

With over 15 years of experience, Benjamin Smith is known as an aggressive litigator who fights relentlessly for his clients. He represents citizens facing charges from DUI and petty larceny to drug distribution, sex crimes, domestic violence, and homicide.

Attorney Smith is respected locally by judges and fellow lawyers for his skilled trial advocacy and litigation skills. He knows how to effectively negotiate with prosecutors by identifying flaws in their case and leveraging defenses. Smith has successfully defended many complex, high-profile cases.

Former clients compliment his honest case assessments, regular communication, and steadfast commitment to their best interests inside and outside the courtroom.

Andrew Hansen

The Law Office of Andrew S. Hansen focuses on providing quality criminal defense representation to locals facing prosecution in Chesapeake courts. Attorney Hansen represents both juveniles and adults facing charges ranging from traffic tickets to misdemeanors and serious felonies.

Hansen is known for thoroughly examining each case’s details both procedurally and substantively to build the strongest defense. He has successfully gotten charges reduced or dismissed for many clients through suppression motions, procedural maneuvers, and plea negotiations. He handles cases efficiently without wasting time or money.

Former clients compliment Hansen’s pragmatism, responsiveness and compassion for clients dealing with stressful legal issues. He provides the personalized attention clients need.

Thomas Meyer

As a former state prosecutor, Thomas Meyer brings a unique perspective to his criminal defense work. He leverages his insider knowledge of prosecutor tactics, police investigative processes and state law. Attorney Meyer represents clients facing DUI, theft, juvenile crimes, domestic assault, drug offenses, violent felonies, and sex-related charges.

Over 20+ years of practice in Chesapeake courts, Meyer has built strong relationships with local judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials. He knows how to craft persuasive arguments and present facts to put clients in the most favorable light. Meyer is praised by clients for always being candid while providing aggressive defense.

Ashley Davis

Ashley Davis is an experienced trial attorney who represents individuals facing misdemeanor and felony prosecutions in Chesapeake and surrounding areas. She is a staunch defender of citizens’ constitutional rights and civil liberties.

Davis handles criminal cases involving charges of DUI, traffic violations, drug crimes, juvenile offenses, domestic assault, larceny, fraud, and more. Her approach combines compassion for clients with relentlessly questioning the prosecution’s version of events and evidence.

Past clients compliment Davis’ honesty in assessing their options while fighting courageously both in court and in negotiations with prosecutors. Her expertise gives clients confidence during stressful times.

Mark Bailey

Mark Bailey is a top-rated defense lawyer who represents people facing federal charges in Chesapeake’s federal court. His experience includes cases involving white collar and financial crimes, healthcare fraud, bribery, public corruption, tax evasion, child pornography, drug trafficking, and other federal offenses.

Over 25+ years practicing criminal law, Bailey has handled over 150 federal jury trials. He aggressively contests evidence and testimony, raises procedural issues, and generally works to prevent successful federal prosecution of his clients by any legal means.

Peers describe Bailey as a brilliant strategist. Former clients praise his responsiveness and legal acumen in navigating complex federal cases. His negotiation skills protect clients.

How to Select the Best Criminal Defense Attorney

When researching criminal defense lawyers, keep these tips in mind:

  • Look for extensive criminal law expertise and focus handling your charges specifically. Avoid dabbling lawyers.
  • Verify lawyers have strong litigation skills and a proven record of positive case results.
  • Seek lawyers respected professionally with great reputations among peers and judges locally.
  • Find lawyers who are candid in initial consultations and discuss defense strategy options realistically.
  • Compare client reviews and ratings on Google, Facebook, Avvo and other sites.
  • Ask about access to resources like investigators, forensic experts and legal support staff.
  • Meet with a few attorneys before deciding – don’t just retain the first one you find.

Vet each option carefully, but a skilled criminal defense lawyer could save your future. Take the decision seriously.


Facing criminal prosecution in Chesapeake can derail and devastate your life if you are convicted. Only an accomplished criminal defense lawyer can protect your rights and interests against tough prosecutors.

The elite criminal lawyers we covered have the skills, knowledge, resources and trial record to build the strongest case on your behalf if you are facing state or federal criminal charges in Chesapeake. For your best chance at avoiding convictions, harsh sentences and wasted money, hire one of these experts to defend you.

Don’t take chances with your future and livelihood. The stakes are immense. Let a top Chesapeake criminal defense attorney stand between you and life-ruining penalties. Protecting client futures at all costs – that is what sets these lawyers apart.