Criminal Misdemeanor and Traffic Cases in Alexandria General District Court
What to Expect on the day of your trial.
If you go to court on your own, with a Misdemeanor and Traffic case, the Prosecutor will likely not even be involved. They usually don’t get involved unless you have an attorney. In fact, even if they do get involved, the Prosecutor will not even look into your file until the day of Court. The big advantage of having a DUI / DWI – Reckless Driving – Criminal Lawyer Alexandria VA is that the Prosecutors will actually give your attorney access to the file in Alexandria. This is not required by law. They do it because they think it is the right thing to do. Thus, unlike other jurisdictions, your lawyer will actually know what the Prosecution’s case will be prior to going to Court. This is a big advantage in case preparation.
In Alexandria, the Prosecutors will be up front in the Court room doing preliminary matters. Your attorney will be able to briefly mention that he/she represents you, and then will be able to step outside the court and discuss your case. Thus, if you have a lawyer, your case will be set off to the side and will not be called by the Judge until your attorney and the Prosecutor are ready. When outside the Court talking to the Prosecutor, plea negotiations will begin. If a deal is offered, your lawyer is required to bring it to you. In the end, whether to accept the deal is not your attorney’s decision — it is your decision alone. If you do not accept the deal, then you will go to trial on this same day. Your lawyer can ask for a continuance, but these are not routinely granted. The DUI / DWI – Reckless Driving – Criminal Lawyer Alexandria VA you have hired, should realize this and be prepared to try the case. Before Court, you will want to have discussed with your attorney whether you should testify or not testify. And if you choose to testify, you should be prepared for the questions your attorney will ask and the possible questions the Prosecutor will ask.
Following the Plea or Trial – what happens?
Before going to Court, your lawyer should explain to you the odds of jail. This is because, if you accept a Plea that includes jail, or if a Judge gives you jail following a trial, you would normally start serving your jail sentence that day.
Sometimes a Judge will allow a Defendant to delay his/her jail start time. But this should not be expected. In other words, be prepared for jail on the day of Court.
Maybe an example would be the best way to explain this. If you have hired an experienced DUI / DWI – Reckless Driving – Criminal Lawyer Alexandria VA, and your attorney and Prosecutor have reached a plea agreement, your attorney will bring that agreement to you. In our example, let’s say that you have a number of charges, and the Prosecutor said, “I will drop all the charges except for one, but in exchange I want 10 days in jail.” You can decide to take it or decide not to take it. If you decide not to take it, you will go to trial that morning on all the charges. If you decide to take that deal, then you and your attorney will go before the Judge. In this example, the Prosecutor will drop all but one charge and then you will plead guilty to one charge. The Judge does not have to accept the agreement, but almost always does. The Judge would then sentence you to 10 days, and the Sheriff will take you into custody in the Court room. You will then be brought from the Court to the jail.
If you do not like the results of the plea deal or the results of the trial, then you have the absolute right to appeal. You would then get a brand-new trial in Circuit Court.
As your DUI / DWI – Reckless Driving – Criminal Lawyer Alexandria VA should explain, the Virginia Code establishes the General District Court as a preliminary court. All rulings by the General District Court can be appealed to Circuit Court! In order to appeal, you MUST note the appeal with the Judge on the trial date or with the Clerk within 10 days of your trial date. So, if you don’t file within 10 days the ruling is final. If you note an appeal and you had a bond, usually, the Judge will just continue the same rules and terms of your bond. Sometimes, though, a bond / bail with stricter terms is required. If new terms are required, you will be briefly taken into custody until you can get the new terms satisfied (e.g. come up with a higher case bond.) Your case will then be set in the Circuit Court. It is usually set in about two months. The trial in Circuit Court is a new trial, as if the General District trial never occurred. (Note: this is called a trial de novo.) It is important to note that a new trial in Circuit Court can result in the same, more lenient or a tougher sentence. Thus, make sure you know the odds of winning on appeal and the possibility of harsher sanctions. You should have a full case analysis with your lawyer. That is why hiring an experienced DUI / DWI – Reckless Driving – Criminal Lawyer Alexandria VA is essential.