What to expect on your Court date at Fairfax County General District Court.
Sometimes, the simplest tips by a top DUI / DWI or Reckless Driving Lawyer Fairfax VA, can help reduce the stress. Court is stressful on its own, and just knowing how to park, get in the building, whether you can bring your cell phone, and where to go in the Courthouse can help eliminate or at least reduce the nervousness. Here are some tips about Fairfax County General District Court.
Location: The Court is located at 4110 Chain Bridge Rd. Fairfax, VA.
Parking: There is public parking at a paid lot just North of the court house main entrance. It is about two – three blocks away from the main entrance. It will take you about 5+ minutes to walk to court. The joke is, “I needed a cab to get from the parking lot to the actual Courthouse!” When you pull in, you will receive ticket at the automatic entry gate. Put this in your purse or wallet. You will want to pay at the end of the day at the payment window prior to getting into your car.
Entry: The main entrance has a number of security personnel and screening machines and metal detectors. Everyone who has a court date in Juvenile & Domestic Relations, General District and Circuit Court are trying to get in at the same time. Get to the entrance about 30-45 minutes before the start of court. At 9:00 to 9:15 a.m. the lines can get very long. (Tip: There is a secondary entrance by the Jail which never has a line.)
Cell phones and lap tops: Recently, Fairfax County Courts changed the rules and they allow you to bring into the Courthouse, cell phones and lap tops. But when you are actually in a court room, you cannot use them. Also, when you are in a court room, be sure to have it on silent or turned off. If it rings, the Bailiff will confiscate it and you can’t get it back until the end of the day.
Location of the Court rooms: To get to the Traffic Court rooms, when you go through security, walk straight back to the opposite side of the building. On the wall, there are t.v. screens with people’s names listed alphabetically, for all Traffic Court cases. Reckless Driving, DUI / DWI, Hit and Run, Speeding, Driving on a Suspended License, and other less serious Traffic Offenses are all heard in these court rooms. Each officer has all his cases in the same room. And usually, there are 5 – 10 officers in each court. Criminal Court is on the second floor, just above the Traffic Courts. The docket t.v. screens are likewise up near the court rooms, but on the second floor.
Where to meet your attorney: Your DUI / DWI or Reckless Driving Lawyer Fairfax VA will explain to you where to meet. We have found it easier to meet outside of the court room door in the hallway. We usually meet people 15 minutes before the Court time starts.
What to expect in court: Each case will be different. In Fairfax, it usually involves a lot of waiting. Remember, Fairfax County has 1,200,000 residents. It is bigger than 8 other states. So imagine everyone in Montana with a case coming to one place every morning. You can expect to be there until 11:30 – noon. If your case goes to trial, it could be later. A good DUI / DWI or Reckless Driving Lawyer Fairfax VA will have only one serious case a day. That is because the plea agreement deals get better as the day wears on. For cheap lawyers who walk into Court with 3-5 files, they usually have to take the first plea deal they get from a Prosecutor so they can get out of that court room and get to the 2 – 4 other court rooms they need to get to. We don’t do that. We do one serious case a day and give our clients our undivided attention and fight for just you – not 4 other people. Most of the day will be waiting for the Prosecutor. Believe it or not, the Prosecutor probably has never looked at your case prior to getting to work at 9 a.m. that day. Usually, the Prosecutor meets lawyers just prior to court and pulls client case files who are represented by attorneys from the judge’s desk and puts them on their own desk. That way the case will not be called until the Prosecutor and Defense Attorney are ready. From 9:30 a.m. to about 10:45, the Prosecutor talks to the Police Officers to get the facts. From 10:45 to about 11:30 the Prosecutors talk to Defense Attorneys to see if a plea deal can be negotiated. If one can be agreed to, and if you decide to accept it, then a plea agreement form will be written up and handed to the Judge. In 99% of the cases, the Judge will accept the agreement. If the Judge rejects it, then the deal is off and you will either have to renegotiate a new deal or go to trial. Your DUI / DWI or Reckless Driving Lawyer Fairfax VA should explain to you the deal and what rights you are giving up in exchange for the deal. If no Plea Agreement is offered by the Prosecutor or if you do not accept the terms of the agreement, then your attorney will either ask for a continuance and schedule your case for another day, or you will go to trial. Trials usually go from 11:30 a.m. to about 1:00 p.m.
Exceptions to the above: In Fairfax County, for DUI and DWI cases, following your arraignment, the next court date is not your trial date. It is the “discovery day.” This is where the Prosecutor will let your DUI Attorney Fairfax VA see the Police Officer’s notes and give him the video, if one exists. The case is the set for trial in about 6-8 weeks from that “discovery day.”
Conclusion: Every Court is different, so make sure that your DUI / DWI Reckless Driving Lawyer Fairfax VA is experienced in Fairfax County. I grew up in Fairfax County and since starting the practice of law in 1988, have been in the Fairfax County courthouse probably 3,000 to 4,000 times.