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Anticipating your trial date- Fairfax criminal lawyer weighs in

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Dec 03, 2019 Anticipating your trial date- Fairfax criminal lawyer weighs in

Anticipating your trial date- Fairfax criminal lawyer weighs in- Image of courtroom

Anticipating your trial date- Fairfax criminal lawyer weighs in

Anticipating your trial date – Fairfax criminal lawyer’s insights

Anticipating your misdemeanor or felony trial date should include substantial planning and preparation by you and your lawyer. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I share the following insights about what to generally expect on your first criminal or DUI trial date in the Fairfax County General District Court.

The risks of going to court alone

Some unrepresented Fairfax criminal and DUI defendants might be anticipating to easily obtain a first-time trial date continuance to have more time to find and pay for a lawyer. However, if the defendant already has had an arraignment, such a continuance may not be guaranteed. Furthermore, a Fairfax criminal defendant with no lawyer may mistakenly agree to enter the marijuana 251 program or misdemeanor shoplifting / OAR program (if offered the option by the judge) when a lawyer can be helpful to advise about the prospects of obtaining a better result than that, and about the risks to one’s security clearance, immigration status, and reputation of accepting such a program.

Obtaining criminal case discovery in Fairfax General District Court

As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I obtain discovery orders in advance of the trial date, for me to obtain from the prosecutor the evidence that the prosecution is required to provide me, and I send the commonwealth’s attorney’s office a Brady / exculpatory evidence demand letter, without anticipating receiving discovery before the first trial date. Absent compelling circumstances to do otherwise, Fairfax County, Virginia, General District Court judges ordinarily will not require prosecutors to provide misdemeanor discovery before the first trial date, I suppose under the reasoning that the prosecutors in this county have such a high misdemeanor caseload.

Continuing the first Fairfax General District Court date

In part because prosecutors in Fairfax County routinely provide discovery only on the first trial date for a General District Court misdemeanor trial date, it is common (but not assured) for the judges in this court to grant the defense a first-time continuance on the trial date. Moreover, in the Fairfax General District Court, “the first court date on a charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI) will generally be continued and neither the Commonwealth nor the Defense will need to subpoena witnesses for this date.” GDC Administrative Procedures at 5:25. Criminal and DUI defendants anticipating no further court dates than one should be aware of this procedure.

Anticipating trial for your second Fairfax General District Court trial date

If the first Fairfax General District Court trial date is continued, the second date should be presumed by the criminal or DUI defendant to be the trial date: “The second court date with counsel present is presumed to be the trial date, and no continuance will be granted except for good cause shown.” GDC Administrative Procedures at 5:25. Even if the prosecutor consents to a defense continuance request on the second trial date, that does not automatically guarantee that the judge will grant a postponement. The defense always needs to come to trial dates fully prepared to proceed to trial.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against felony, misdemeanor and DUI prosecutions. Jon Katz will be delighted to discuss your court-pending criminal case with you free through an in-person confidential meeting scheduled through his staff at 703-383-1100. 

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