Aug 01, 2020 Case result without a Fairfax prosecutor- Virginia criminal lawyer weighs in
Case outcomes in misdemeanor matters when Fairfax prosecutors waive involvements- Virginia criminal lawyer’s recent experience
Case outcomes for criminal defendants can improve overall when Fairfax prosecutors bow out of most misdemeanor matters. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I recently experienced such benefit. Although a prosecutor can be more reliable for producing discovery in conformity with Virginia Supreme Court Rule 7C:5 and Brady v. Md., and in some instances can be better for negotiating outcomes and arranging trial date rescheduling, for everything else it is ideal for the defendant to have the prosecutor uninvolved.
Getting a Fairfax trespassing prosecution dismissed in the absence of a prosecutor and opposing witnesses
A trespassing case dismissal was my Fairfax client’s recent court outcome when the prosecutor’s office expressly declined involvement, even though a prosecutor was sitting in the courtroom when the judge was considering how to proceed in the case.
When a prosecutor is handling a Fairfax misdemeanor matter, my client and I do not need to be in the courtroom at the posted starting time if the parties have not yet talked about discovery and/or a possible settlement. With my client’s Fairfax trespassing matter that had no prosecutor I made sure to have me and my client in the courtroom for the docketed start time. The judge called our case moments after and recognized that no opposing witnesses were present. The judge mentioned that one of the police officers in the case had called in sick, but the opposing side had no lawyer / prosecutor to move for a case rescheduling. The judge said he was ready to enter the case nolle prosequi, which means a non-prejudicial dismissal, which does not preclude the police officer or a prosecutor from recharging the matter. I pointed out to the judge that without a prosecutor present to move for a nolle prosequi, it made sense either to have a trial (which would have resulted in an acquittal in the absence of opposing witnesses) or else a dismissal with prejudice, precluding any recharging of the matter. The judge then entered a dismissal with prejudice.
Judges and police are not the ones to take over the role left unfilled when Fairfax and other prosecutors decline involvement in a misdemeanor case
Part of me wonders whether Fairfax chief prosecutor Steve Descano’s recent policy change declining involvement of prosecutors in most misdemeanor criminal actions is like the New Coke campaign from years ago, where Coca Cola either miscalculated the adverse results from introducing a new Coke recipe, or else intended public buzz about the change in order to determine whether to return to the former ingredient mix. Perhaps Descano wants this shift to convince the Fairfax County board of supervisors to increase available funding for prosecuting misdemeanor actions. In the meantime, at lease Fairfax judges would probably prefer a return to the status quo, where prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers discussed discovery and case negotiations while the police officers in those cases could be in the courtroom handling matters where defendants appeared without lawyers.
Should Fairfax misdemeanor defendants obtain a lawyer if the prosecutor will be uninvolved? Yes
The Fairfax status quo was for prosecutors to generally be uninvolved with misdemeanor matters that had no criminal defense lawyer. That amounted to an uneven playing field where unrepresented defendants were going up against an experienced police officer before an experienced judge. In order to pursue and exploit every possible advantage in one’s case, criminal defendants should go to court with a qualified lawyer.
Who is the best Virginia criminal lawyer or best DUI lawyer for your Fairfax or Northern Virginia case? While there is no best lawyer in the abstract, you have many highly experienced lawyers to choose from. Criminal defense lawyer Jonathan L. Katz has successfully defended thousands of criminal and DWI defendants. Call 703-383-1100 to schedule a free in-person consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending criminal or DUi matter.