Facing criminal charges in Virginia is a daunting experience, especially given the potentially harsh punishments that await individuals convicted of misdemeanors or felonies. However, it’s crucial to remember that you may have viable defenses at your disposal, even if you are guilty of the alleged crime. 

Our experienced Manassas criminal defense lawyers at the Wilson Law Firm can mount an aggressive defense strategy on your behalf that results in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less severe offense. Here, we discuss some common defenses for criminal charges we’ve used that could help you reach a favorable outcome. Common Defenses | Criminal Charges in Virginia

Common Defense Strategies for Criminal Charges in Virginia 

A criminal defense challenges the validity of the charges against you and the evidence the prosecutor is using to try to convict you.

Even if you committed the crime, you could have strong defenses that can result in a not-guilty verdict or convince the prosecutor to offer you a favorable plea agreement

Every criminal case is unique, and defenses that may be successful depend on your specific situation. Here are common defenses that may help you. 

Miranda Warnings 

If law enforcement officials failed to read you your Miranda rights during the arrest or interrogation process, any statements or evidence obtained during that time may be inadmissible in court. Your defense attorney can challenge the admissibility of any statements or confession you made or other evidence obtained, potentially weakening the prosecution's case.

Presumption of Innocence

One of the fundamental principles of the American legal system is the presumption of innocence. It means that you’re considered innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a very high standard of proof they cannot always establish. Our knowledgeable defense attorneys challenge the prosecution's evidence and arguments, highlighting any inconsistencies or gaps that cast doubt on your guilt.


If you were falsely accused of an offense, a strong defense could be that you’re innocent. Your Manassas defense attorney may try to prove this by showing that:

  • The crime was never committed.
  • Someone else is guilty.
  • A witness's testimony is unreliable or untrue. 


It can be a powerful defense if you can provide a solid alibi that establishes you weren’t at the scene of the crime when it occurred. Witness testimonies, surveillance footage, cellphone records, or any other evidence corroborating your alibi can be crucial in establishing your innocence. Under Virginia discovery rules, you must give notice that you plan to raise an alibi defense prior to your trial.


Eyewitness misidentification is a common issue in criminal cases. Your attorney can challenge the reliability of witness identifications, questioning the circumstances under which they occurred and presenting evidence that suggests the witnesses may have been mistaken.


If you committed a crime under duress—meaning you were coerced or threatened into doing so—this can be a valid defense against criminal charges. You would be admitting guilt but claiming you were forced to commit the offense. Your attorney can present evidence to demonstrate that you were in fear for your safety or the safety of a loved one and had no choice but to commit the crime.


If law enforcement officers induced you to commit an offense you wouldn’t have otherwise committed, entrapment may be a solid defense. Your legal counsel investigates the facts surrounding your arrest to determine if you were unfairly pressured or manipulated into criminal behavior. However, this defense can be more difficult to prove if you have prior criminal convictions because the prosecutor could present evidence to this point as a means to fight this defense.


Virginia law allows individuals to use reasonable force to defend themselves. But the amount of force you use to defend yourself must be reasonable in light of the threat of harm you face. If you can show that you acted in self-defense, your Manassas criminal defense lawyer at The Wilson Law Firm can argue that your actions were justified, leading to a potential acquittal.

Unreasonable Search and Seizure

Under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, the police cannot conduct unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement officials obtained evidence against you through an illegal search or seizure, our criminal defense attorneys can file a motion to suppress that evidence, which could lead to the dismissal of charges.

Statute of Limitations

In Virginia, misdemeanor offenses have a statute of limitations, which is the time limit within which the prosecution must initiate legal proceedings. If the statute of limitations has expired for the alleged crime, we can argue that the charges should be dismissed.


In some cases, the defense of insanity may apply if you couldn’t understand the wrongfulness of your actions due to a mental illness when you allegedly committed the offense. To establish this defense, your legal team would need to show that you:

  • Didn’t understand the nature, character, or consequences of the act.
  • Couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong.
  • Were driven by an uncontrollable impulse to commit the crime because of a mental illness. 

A skilled lawyer can work with health experts to establish your mental state during the alleged crime.