The Steps In A Virginia Criminal Defense Case
Here is a breakdown of how the process typically works:
- Accusation: This happens after a police investigation, where officers gather information through interviews with suspects, witnesses, and legal searches.
- Arrest: When police find the alleged suspect, they usually issue a Virginia Uniform Summons before taking the alleged suspect into custody. In some circumstances, officers may believe someone will repeat their alleged offenses, or pose a direct threat to themselves or the public and decide to place them in jail.
- Arraignment: If the defendant is held in jail, they will likely get arraigned the day after their arrest. During an arraignment, a district court typically lists off the charges the defendant faces and asks if they understand the charges, if they have an attorney, and whether they plead guilty or not guilty for those charges. Then, the judge typically sets the defendant’s next court date.
- Preliminary hearing: If the defendant faces felony charges, a district court may conduct a preliminary hearing to discover if there is reason to believe the defendant committed a felony. If the felony charge sticks, the case will likely go to a grand jury. If not, a judge may reduce the charge.
- Plea Bargaining: In some cases, prosecutors may negotiate with the defendant to have them plead guilty to reduce the charges and get a lighter sentence.
- Trial: When a judge hears the case from the side of prosecutors and the defendant’s attorney. If the defendant fails to appear in court for their trial date, they could face arrest and have to pay a fine.
- Exoneration/Punishment: Depending on the outcome of their trial, a jury ultimately determines whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. If the defendant is found guilty, two things can happen: One, the defendant is immediately sent to jail or prison. Two, the defendant remains free until their sentencing hearing. If the defendant is found not guilty, they can walk free and not have to worry about that particular charge ever again.
Seek Help From A Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Virginia’s justice system can be complicated and bureaucratic – you don’t have to navigate it alone. We can guide you through and help you understand the process. Don’t wait to seek legal counsel – call 703-542-3616 or complete our contact form for a free consultation to speak with one of our attorneys.