Once you are arrested, you will be booked. In Virginia, as most states, booking includes taking your photo and fingerprints. You will be brought before a magistrate who will decide your initial bond, which must be paid for you to be released from jail. The amount will depend on the type and severity of your crime. The magistrate will also decide if you are a flight risk and take that into account. Call for a skilled criminal defense lawyer who can handle every step of the process.
After being arrested, you will face arraignment. The arraignment is a court hearing where the charges are read to you and you are asked if you would like an attorney. If you have not already retained counsel from a lawyer, this is the time to do it. During this process, your next court date will also be set.
During discovery, information available to the prosecutor setting the facts of the case must be revealed to you and your attorney, however in Virginia discovery is very limited. Exculpatory evidence, which is evidence proving you did not commit the crime, must be provided. Some prosecutors may try to hide this evidence, but our skilled attorneys know how to uncover it.
After the initial phases, a trial begins. Nearly all misdemeanors committed by an adult are heard in General District Court (GDC). Initially there is no jury trial, but you may appeal for one later on if you choose. The initial trial is before a judge. Most felonies also begin in GDC with a preliminary hearing. If probable cause is found in the initial hearing, a grand jury will have to certify the case an indictment is often handed down and the case will head to circuit court. If no probable cause is found, the charges will be dismissed. Crimes committed by anyone who is 18 years or younger begin in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
At the end of a trial, a judge or jury will decide a verdict. In Virginia, when a jury trial concludes for an adult, the jury will recommend a sentence to the judge. Oftentimes the judge does follow the jury’s recommendation. In juvenile cases the judge always decides the punishment. After a Circuit Court trial, you have the right to appeal the verdict and / or the sentence.