Arlington County rules on Continuances and Discovery in General District Court

Arlington County rules on Continuances and Discovery in General District Court

Most all attorneys in Northern Virginia practice in all Northern Virginia Courts.  So knowledge of the different procedures in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun, among others, is paramount.  An attorney who does not know the subtle differences between jurisdictions will fail his clients.  This article talks about the Continuance and Discovery procedures in Arlington County.  Your Traffic, DUI and Reckless Driving Lawyer Arlington VA must know these rules.

Continuance:  Fairfax has convenient procedures to obtain continuances.  A continuance is a request by a Defendant or his attorney to delay the current court date to another day in the future.  For most first time continuances, Fairfax does not require it to be granted directly by a Judge.  You can get your continuance by filing with the Clerk.  First time requests for continuances are routinely granted in Fairfax for both the Defense and the Prosecution.  But subsequent requests are frowned upon.  This is because Fairfax in the largest jurisdiction in Virginia and the Judges need to manage their dockets and get cases moving through the system.  So for multiple continuance, Fairfax requires “good cause” (such as illness or lab results not being available).

Discovery:  Virginia is an outlier in the entire U.S. on this issue.  Most states require a lot of information be provided to the Defendant.  In Virginia, all that the law and Court Rules require the Commonwealth’s Attorneys to provide is evidence showing the Defendant’s innocence (such as a witness who can attest to an alibi, or a video showing innocence) or any Defendant’s statement (such as when the Defendant talks to Police after being read Miranda warnings).  The lack of discovery has been a controversial topic for a long time in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate.  What the majority of attorneys desire before a trial is a police report and any statements of witnesses to the crime.  These allow a lawyer to determine if he can win a trial, or, if he can’t win, to begin negotiating a plea.  The problem is that the law does not mandate the Commonwealth’s Attorneys office to give the defendant or his attorney the police report or witness statements.  Bills have been submitted in the State Legislature to require these be disclosed, but they are routinely killed. The good news is that the Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorneys have been willing to let defense attorneys see police reports!  All Traffic, DUI or Reckless Driving Lawyer Arlington VA needs to do is call the prosecutor’s office and set an appointment!

Continuance:

  • By order if agreed by Prosecutor and filed at least 7 days prior to a hearing.
  • By motion if less than 7 days or opposed. Time of the motion varies depending on what  Prosecutors it is.

Discovery:

  • Call Prosecutor to request and view (about 2 weeks prior to a hearing).
  • No motion needed.
  • Done in person.