Since 1999, Jon Katz has repeatedly defended clients charged with criminal and DWI offenses in the Prince William County court, which is one county away from Jon’s main Fairfax County, Virginia office.
Although parts of Prince William County are more rural and sparsely populated than neighboring Fairfax County, it is the Commonwealth’s second most populous counties nonetheless, and includes such densely populated areas as Woodbridge and Manassas. On top of that, plenty of people pass through the county on such major highways as Route 95 and Route 66. The county’s decades long chief prosecutor, Paul Ebert, unfortunately, has a penchant for pursuing death penalty cases.
Prince William County has had a thriving immigrant community, but the county is far from being at any risk of becoming a sanctuary county nor to have sanctuary cities. This is a law and order county where the chief prosecutor’s campaign themes are sloganed about keeping county residents safe.
Prince William County is three counties away from Washington, D.C., and its jurors are generally law and order jurors. who should not be expected to be initially skeptical about police and prosecutors.
The Prince William County General District Court holds criminal case hearings at 8:30 a.m. Those hearing typically complete by 9:00 a.m., which is great for attorneys needing next to get to Fairfax for that county’s 9:30 a.m. General District Court docket.
Unless the criminal defense lawyer schedules a hearing to obtain discovery in advance of the General District Court trial date, the prosecutors may generally only agree to sign an order to provide discovery on the trial date. By setting a discovery order hearing date, the criminal defense lawyer commonly can obtain a discovery deadline of at least seven days in advance if not sooner. The prosecutor’s office typically will mail the discovery to the defendant when the discovery order requires advance discovery.
Commonly the first trial date can be continued on that date in General District Court.
The Prince William County General District Court case file will include the criminal complaint (sometimes existing for cases beyond DWI’s).
Non-lawyer visitors to the Prince William County courthouse are barred from bringing cellphones (at least those with cameras, which seems to cover all cellphones) into the courthouse. Each Virginia courthouse has its own rules about limiting access to cellphones. Courthouse visitors may leave their cellphones with the Sheriff’s Office to the left of the courthouse entrance (but who would want to leave their cellphone with law enforcement?) or may leave them in their car. At least the second floor has some free phones in the hallway for making local phone calls. Cellphone ringtones and vibrators should be turned off while in the courtroom.
The streets and closest parking spaces fill up quickly in the morning near the courthouse. Usually the farther parking lot spaces west of the courthouse have availability. However, it is best to arrive at least one hour before one’s court time to allow for the days when the parking lot is packed, leaving the driver to seek parking at the lots of other nearby streets and government office parking lots.
If court ends favorably, those who infrequently visit the Manassas to Centreville corridor might be interested in walking around downtown Manassas’s bookstore and other interesting shops, and the area around the railroad station. Also of interest is the concentration in three separate shopping centers of Korean and other ethnic restaurants north of the intersection of routes 29 and 66, as well as the Korean eatery at the Manassas H-Mart. Beyond the courthouses in Arlington and Fairfax — which has its own interesting downtown — the local flavor becomes all the more interesting in many Virginia courthouse areas.