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Consult with a lawyer before your first Virginia criminal court date

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Consult with a qualified lawyer before your first Virginia criminal court date, says Fairfax criminal defense lawyer

Consult with a qualified lawyer before your first date in court for a Virginia DUI or criminal prosecution. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that you likely will thank yourself for doing so. Even for lawyers practicing in neighboring jurisdictions, written and customary practices even for lawyers in Virginia can sometimes seem unusual at best and archaic and unnecessary at worst. This is why it is common for lawyers appearing before a set of judges or prosecutors who are new to the lawyer often engage local lawyers to help them successfully navigate the lay of the land.

Do I need to consult with a Virginia criminal defense lawyer even before my arraignment date?

Some but not all Virginia DUI and misdemeanor prosecutions have arraignment dates, depending on the jurisdiction and other surrounding circumstances. Clearly, a criminal defendant should not be expected to have the time and /or funds always to be able to secure a lawyer before his or her arraignment date, but it is less expensive and often free to consult with a qualified lawyer. At the same, it is good to speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer even before  your arraignment date to help demystify the process and to not do something to blunder in court. As only a for instance, I once had a client hire me who stayed two extra nights in a Northern Virginia hotel in order to attend his arraignment, in a jurisdiction that does not require such a court appearance if the defendant obtains a lawyer who timely and correctly files his or her appearance with the court.

Conversely, in some jurisdictions the defendant has to appear at the arraignment unless excused in advance (living far away would seem to be a good reason, but that does not automatically amount to being excused by the court), which reduces the benefit of obtaining a lawyer beforehand. Finally, a Northern Virginia federal judge — who was among my favorites to appear before in that court before he retired — required my client to fly to court all the way from Florida for his initial appearance / Rule 5 hearing, despite my timely motion to waive his appearance, I figure under the theory that doing so would reduce the risk that he would fail to appear at his trial, and that if he did fail to appear, the record would make it unmistakable that he knew his court date. Choosing to consult with qualified lawyer can provide you essential information about many critical aspects of your defense.

Am I not guaranteed a continuance of my first trial date on that date?

Never get caught with your pants down in court, nor anywhere else for that matter. Do not guess — nor rely on non-lawyers knowledgeable about the court’s rules and practices — about whether you can simply show up in court on your trial date, for instance without a lawyer or having just hired one a day or two before, and be guaranteed a case continuance that day if you do not reach a case settlement that you want, or do not feel ready for trial. Certainly if you have not been arraigned it would seem unjust to be denied such a continuance. However, why risk sweating bullets and twisting in the wind about this rather than simply choosing in advance of court to consult with a qualified Virginia criminal defense or DWI lawyer?

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz pursues your best defense against Virginia DUI, felony and misdemeanor prosecutions. Learn the positive difference that Jon Katz can make for your defense by scheduling a free in-person confidential consultation about your court-pending case, at 703-383-1100.