Socrates and Guilty Knowledge (a/k/a . . . In Which Socrates Would be Convicted of Possession in Virginia)

In The Apology, Socrates, on trial for his life, says of an unnamed politician: “This man, on one hand, believes that he knows something, while not knowing. On the other hand, I, equally ignorant, do not believe.” Socrates then concludes that he himself is the wisest man alive because he alone recognizes that he lacks any knowledge.  Socrates believed that people never truly know anything and instead only have a degree of confidence.

Socrates was then then sentenced to death.

According to Virginia Code § 18.2-250(A)(a): “It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled substance.” The Virginia Court of Appeals recently got to test this code section’s definition of “knowingly” in Christian v. Commonwealth, 2012 Va. App. LEXIS 47 (2011).  Did the Virginia Court of Appeals accept the Socratic view of knowledge and undo, in some small part, the injustice once done to the wisest Athenian?  Of course not. That would be silly. Continue reading

Hello Brave New World!

We here at Solan | Alzamora are moving beyond our family law blog at and bankruptcy blog at to the wonderful world of criminal and traffic law blogging here at  We, as always, aim to blow your hair back with our insight, wit and wisdom.

Let’s do this!  Once again!

PUI: Parking Under the Influence in Virginia

Can an intoxicated person be found guilty of DUI in Virginia when the only evidence of his operation of the vehicle is the mere fact that the key is in the ignition?

The Virginia Supreme Court not too long ago addressed when one could be convicted of DUI in Virginia when there is no evidence that the intoxicated criminal defendant found present in the vehicle actually drove the vehicle in Nelson v. Commonwealth, 281 Va. 212 (2011).  The upshot of that case was the establishment of the following rules:

(i) If the engine is running, then guilty of DUI.  See, e.g., Williams v. City of Petersburg, 216 Va. 297 (1975);

(ii) If the engine is not running but the key is in the on/accessory position, then guilty of DUI.  See, e.g., Nelson v. Commonwealth, 281 Va. 212 (2011);

(iii) If the engine is not running and the key is in the off position, then not guilty of DUI. See, e.g., Stevenson v. City of Falls Church, 243 Va. 434 (1992). Continue reading