Since 1999, Virginia federal criminal lawyer Jon Katz has been defending federal misdemeanor, felony and DUI clients charged in the United States District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, which is thirteen miles from Jon’s Fairfax, Viriginia office. The Alexandria federal courthouse should not be mistaken with the Alexandria City state-level courthouse around two miles away, where Jon also practices.
Given their druthers, prosecutors would prefer prosecuting terrorism cases and a slew of other cases in Alexandria federal court versus the nearby courts in Washington, D.C., and Maryland (Greenbelt and Baltimore). The jury pool for the Alexandria federal trial court simply brims with more prosecutorial- and police-friendly jurors than in those other courthouses.
This is a formal courthouse, too formal, where lawyers are restricted to the podium when speaking to jurors and examining witnesses. The judicial branch is the most undemocratic of the three branches of government to begin with, and we do not need people charged with such minor offenses as speeding (still jailable up to six months if stopped on the George Washington Parkway) to have their first visit to court be so overly formal.
The Alexandria federal courthouse has four District Court judges, three seniro District Court judges, and five magistrate judges. The judgesl wield tremendous power, including acting on warrant applications for surveillance, searches and seizures; granting or denying bail; and setting sentences under the draconian system of mandatory minimum sentencing and the advisory federal sentencing guidelines.
For misdemeanor cases, the first court date typically is a Rule 5 hearing/initial appearance, where the presence of the defendant is required, even if represented by an attorney and even if the defendant lives far away, unless excused by the court.
Jon Katz has defended in federal court since 1999. To discuss your case with Jon, please call his staff to schedule a confidential appointment, at 703-383-1100.