Sep 23, 2020 Fairfax blood DUI defense- Virginia DWI lawyer on preparation & dealing
Fairfax blood DUI trials are on a delayed scheduling track, says Virginia DWI lawyer
Fairfax blood DUI trials — and any Virginia blood DWI defense under Va. Code § 18.2-266 — presents its own unique challenges. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that if one’s blood draw driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs case in this county does not settle on the first trial date, the case will not go to trial that day but ordinarily will be set for trial at least around six months later. (NOTE: Virginia police prefer demanding breath testing over blood testing, because breath testing is cheaper and less time consuming at the outset and in court. Blood draws are sought by police when a defendant refuses a breath test (a blood test after a refusal usually is obtained after a search warrant is sought), is unable to provide a sufficient breath sample, or is hospitalized for a car accident that preceded the drinking / drugging and driving arrest)).
Why are Fairfax DUI trials with blood draws being set so far out?
This county has among Virginia’s busiest criminal court dockets — which includes Virginia DUI cases — and is experiencing not only the uusal bottleneck of scheduling Fairfax blood draw DUI cases far enough apart so that the state forensic toxicologists from the Department of Forensic Science have time also to do lab work and to testify in other courts — but also with the recent delay of many trials in relation to Covid-19. Offsetting that bottleneck is the reduced numberf of DUI arrests at least during the earlier days of the coronavirus, when fewer people were driving, let alone with alcohol in their systems, while awaiting bars and restaurants to reopen and while waiting to be willing to frequent such establishments.
How much longer will my DUI trial in Fairfax County be delayed if I appeal a conviction in the General District Court?
Everyone convicted in Virginia District Court for a criminal offense has a right within ten days to correctly file a notice of appeal for a new jury trial in Circuit Court (unless the defendant and commonwealth / prosecution agree to waive a jury trial). Setting jury trials for Fairfax blood DUI cases and all other felony and misdemeanor cases is heavily backlogged, seeing that the county’s jury trial resumption plan during Covid-19 only recently got approved by the Virginia Supreme Court, with criminal jury trials for non-incarcerated people not likely to resume before May 2021.
What benefit might I get to negotiate a Fairfax DUI or criminal case in the light of the county’s chief prosecutor’s request to fund dozens of new staffing slots?
Being undertaffed, this county’s prosecutor’s office may take that into account for possibly more favorable plea negotiations in Fairfax blood draw and other criminal cases, to free up their time for other cases. This week, Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano asked the county board of supervisors for funding to add dozens more prosecutors and other staff to his office. This comes on the heels of the the Fairfax chief prosecutor’s July 2020 announcement that his prosecutors ordinarily will handle no misdemenaor cases other than DUI, domestic assault involving intimate partners, stalking, sexual assault, motor vehicle misdemeanors with fatalities, firearms violations relating to substantial risk orders, and misdemeanors consolidated with felony charges.
While prosecutors know that a Fairfax blood DUI District Court bench trial will only last a finite period of time, maybe one to two hours at most for most such trials, an appeal from a District Court conviction spells substantial time investment for a prosecutor if a jury trial is not waived. I have had a Fairfax jury deliberate overnight even for a breath test refusal appeal trial, let alone for a more serious case. For a prosecutor, setting aside the extra time to try a jury trial than a case before a judge without a jury — and then dealing with jury deliberation time and any sentencing trial if the jury convicts — takes time from the prosecutor’s other matters, thus possibly helping the defendant with more favorable negotiating a case resolution. On top of that, the jury trial scheduling backlog — addressed above — may favorably assist Fairfax criminal defendants and the accused in all Virginia counties with case negotiations all the more.
Should I wait to hire a Fairfax DWI lawyer in the light of the blood trial scheduling backlog? No.
Even with the Fairfax blood DUI trial scheduling backlog — which only applies after the first post-arraignment court date — it is important timely to obtain a qualified Virginia DWI lawyer, who can start obtaining essential discovery and other evidence, obtain a blood transfer order for a private lab test, and negotiate the case on the first trial date, for starters.
Fairfax DUI lawyer / Virginia criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz has successfully defended hundreds of people charged with DWI and thousands of people charged with this and other criminal offenses. Call 703-383-1100 for a free in-person consultation and tailor-made defense action plan with Jon Katz about your court-pending DUI or criminal case.