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Arraignments in District Court- View from a Fairfax criminal lawyer

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Dec 02, 2019 Arraignments in District Court- View from a Fairfax criminal lawyer

Arraignments in District Court- View from a Fairfax criminal lawyer

Arraignments in District Court- View from a Fairfax criminal lawyer

Arraignments in District Court, demystified by Fairfax criminal lawyer

Arraignments in Virginia not need to be an aggravating rather than simplified exercise. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, in this article I address the arraignment process for criminal and DUI cases in the Fairfax District Court. Be aware that procedures for this and other court dates can vary from county to county in the commonwealth.

Handling Fairfax District Court arraignments

Fairfax County General District Court (“GDC”) and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (“JDR”) criminal defendants charged by a misdemeanor warrant of arrest typically will receive an arraignment date (noted on their recognizance) that is set within a few days of arrest. When an arraignment is set so soon after one’s arrest, that can cause concern for defendants who want more time to identify a suitable lawyer, and to have time to pay the lawyer’s fee.

It is not necessary to obtain a lawyer for arraignments, but doing so can provide convenience, avoid stress over arriving timely to the court date, and avoid any risk that the defendant will saying anything in court that might be detrimental to the him or her. Hiring a lawyer before one’s Fairfax GDC and JDR arraignment date enables the defendant not to have to attend the court date, so long as his or her lawyer follows the procedure for making the defendant’s appearance unnecessary. Be aware that some non-Fairfax courts will require the defendant’s presence (sometimes permitting the lawyer to appear instead) at the District Court arraignment no matter what.

What happens at a Fairfax District Court arraignment?

Arraignments need timely attendance. Be ready for the Fairfax courthouse lines to sometimes take over ten to fifteen minutes. If you depart your designated courtroom after your court starting time (for instance for a restroom visit) and before your arraignment is called, you risk being marked as failing to appear and having a bench warrant issued for your arrest.

Arraignments include the judge’s informing the defendant of the criminal charges against the defendant, asking if the defendant understands the criminal charges, and asking whether the defendant plans to hire his or her own lawyer or wants a court appointed lawyer. The judge will tell the defendant his or her trial or preliminary hearing date. The Fairfax judge also will typically announce an attorney review hearing for as early as one or two weeks later, to inform the court of the defendant’s progress obtaining a lawyer, if one is not hired yet.

Arraigning incarcerated defendants

For Fairfax arraignments for defendants on a no-bond or too-high bond status, the criminal defense lawyer can ask for bail / pretrial release to be considered the same date. If the judge declines, the lawyer can timely file a request for a bail hearing to take place as early as the next business morning.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against felony, misdemeanor and DUI prosecutions. To discuss your case with Jon Katz, please call his staff at 703-383-1100 to schedule a confidential consultation. 

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