The criminal process in Virginia should be predictable and consistent. Police and prosecutors are required to follow certain protocols in order to maintain a suspect’s rights and prevent guilty parties from being released on technicalities.
For your own protection, it is extremely important to understand what police and prosecutors can’t do as well as what they should do. If anyone involved in your case fails to follow the proper protocols, you could have grounds for a dismissal, whether you are guilty or not.
From Accusation to Conviction: Virginia Circuit Court Proceedings
The common procedure for criminal cases when it comes to charging, processing, and convicting a suspect of a felony in a Virginia court is as follows:
- If you’re accused of a crime, you’ll be arrested on a warrant and brought before a magistrate. At this point, it is a good idea to contact an experienced defense lawyer to make sure your rights are being upheld.
- The magistrate will then decide whether to place you in jail pending a hearing or release you on bail.
- A preliminary hearing will then be held in district court to determine if there is probable cause that you committed the crime.
- If probable cause is found, the case is sent to the grand jury.
- If the grand jury agrees that there is probable cause, they will issue a formal charge against you, called an indictment.
- The complete charges will then be read to you to make sure you understand exactly what you are being accused of. Your lawyer can also help break down the charges and provide you with legal options to go forward.
- You’ll then have the opportunity to state your plea of guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere (no contest).
- Once you have entered your plea, the prosecution has the opportunity to present you with plea-bargain options. You may have the chance to “make a deal” with the prosecution to settle out of court or bargain for a reduced sentence for pleading guilty.
- If you and your defense attorney cannot agree on a plea bargain, you will then proceed to make your defense in a trial.
Get the Help You Need to Improve Your Outcome
Although the process is fairly rigid, the criminal process can be cut short with the proper defense tactics. Contact us today to see how we can help you change the outcome of your arrest. Simply fill out our contact form, or call us directly at 703-865-6610 to set up an appointment. Remember, it’s your story. How do you want this chapter to end? Call now!