Loudoun County rules on Continuances and Discovery in General District Court

Loudoun County rules on Continuances and Discovery in General District Court

You may find it surprising that every Court in Virginia has different procedures for how continuances are granted and how discovery is provided.  If an attorney practices law in Northern Virginia (Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Arlington County and Alexandria City) then he must be aware of the different procedures, or his client’s will be harmed.  This article discusses the process of Discovery and Continuance motions in Loudoun County.  Be sure your Traffic, DUI or Reckless Driving Lawyer Loudoun County knows these procedures in Loudoun.

Let’s look at continuance procedures in Loudoun.  If you or your attorney are unable to make it to the designated court date, a Motion for Continuance must be made in advance.  Some Courts require a Motion to be made only before a Judge and some allows it to be done at the Clerk’s office.  In Loudoun, you must have the Court’s permission to do so. Thus, you need to go before a Judge to get the motion granted.  First time continuances are routinely granted.  Judges and Commonwealth’s Attorneys understand that attorneys more than one case at a time and that Defendants have conflicts caused most often by kids and jobs.  Second or multiple continuances, however, are much harder to get as the Courts are trying to keep cases moving through the system.  To get a multiple continuance, you need to have a really good reason, such as sickness or evidence being unavailable.

Virginia is very restricted on Discovery.  An attorney or a defendant are only entitled to evidence showing innocence (e.g. a video showing that someone else did the crime) and the Defendant’s statements (e.g. a confession).  Most other jurisdictions through America give the defense much much more.  This has been highly controversial in your Virginia General Assembly.  In preparing a defense, the most sought after things a defense attorney wants is the police report and any statements made by people who witnessed the crime.  With these, a lawyer can determine if he can win a trial or if he needs to start plea negotiations.  Unfortunately, the Virginia Code and Court Rules do not require the Commonwealth’s Attorney to give these items.  In the legislature, all law changes to expand discovery have been killed.  The good news is that some Prosecutors’ offices, including Loudoun, provide a Traffic, DUI and Reckless Driving Lawyer Loudoun County more than they are required.

Continuance:

  • Traffic infractions & misdemeanors must be requested at least 10 days prior to court date.
  • Criminal misdemeanors by a 48-hour motion.
  • Traffic and criminal felonies by a 48-hour motion.
  • Motions are heard at 8:30am.

Discovery:

  • File a discovery order with a clerk (must be the form the court provides).
  • Felonies: once the order is signed, contact the Prosecutor to view discovery. Must be done in person. Bring a blank disc. Usually about 2 weeks prior to a hearing.
  • Misdemeanors: once the order is signed, submit an online request to view discovery.
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