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Fairfax continuances addressed by Virginia criminal lawyer

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Fairfax continuances can open new doors and sometimes add new landmines

Fairfax continuances are common — but not assured — in that county’s General District Court on the first-scheduled trial date. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that one of four things will happen in this and any other court on a Virginia criminal or DUI trial date: a trial, a case dismissal (usually without prejudice, which enables the commonwealth’s attorney’s office or police officer in the case to recharge the alleged crime(s)); a negotiated settlement (whether a plea or dismissal deal, or a satisfaction and discharge arrangement with a misdemeanor civilian complainant, and in occasional instances a guilty or no contest plea without an agreement (which can be common in some reckless driving cases seeking an amendment to improper driving); and a trial date continuance. All the comings and going and lawspeak can become a dizzying mess for a Virginia criminal defendant, which gets greatly offset when the defendant obtains a qualified lawyer and works closely with that lawyer starting well in advance of the court date.

What opportunities  and risks can arise from Fairfax continuances in Virginia criminal cases?

A Virginia criminal defendant ordinarily needs a qualified criminal defense lawyer to help them identify and consider the opportunities and pitfalls in their cases and in the courthouse. With Fairfax continuances come the following possibilities and possible curses. The Fairfax County General District Court is too busy for one particular judge and (usually) one particular prosecutor to be assigned to a case. This means that your chances are usually less than one in ten that today’s judge will be your judge next time in court, when we have eleven full-time Fairfax General District Court judges, and where sometimes in the courtroom will be a substitute judges (retired judges and private practicing lawyers who preside when a judge has a day off or is ill), which is most common in this county with Virginia DUI and traffic cases, and with felony preliminary hearings. The Fairfax commonwealth’s attorney’s office has many more people than the county District Court bench, which reduces your chance that you will have the same prosecutor on your next trip to court, unless they see special circumstances (for instance special expertise, developing a relationship with the complainant and prosecution witnesses, or complexity of the case that would be a challenge for a colleague to start from square one),  Unless your judge on your first court date is the worst for your case, you may get a worse or better judge next time in court. The same goes for the prosecutor.

Virginia criminal court continuances enable each side to renegotiate strengthen their preparation, secure more evidence and witnesses, but also to miss witnesses the next time in court

Fairfax continuances can present new landscapes for your next trial date. You may learn after the continued trial date that the prosecutor has added new criminal charges against you (whether or not the assistant commonwealth’s attorney warned of that possibility or likelihood if the case was not settled on the first trial date), has brought in new witnesses to make your victory prospects more difficult, or is simply better prepared overall. For you as the Virginia criminal defendant, your first trial date was an extra dress rehearsal, and today is showtime. Your lawyer may have found new evidence and witnesses to benefit you. The prosecutor or case police officer may have overlooked issuing subpoenas to essential witnesses for the court date, or to assuring that those witnesses are available for court. This is an opportunity also to renegotiate your case. It is common for prosecutors to say that the plea offer from the last court date extinguished by not accepting it on that court date, but the corollary to that is to counter to the prosecutor that the last plea offer should therefore not be a ceiling on where negotiations can go on this new trial date.

Do I get to choose my judge for my Virginia criminal trial date?

You do not get to choose your judge, but Fairfax continuances give y0u new opportunities and challenges with your new judge, and sometimes the judge that many criminal defense lawyers stay clear of as best as possible deliver great results for a defendant, whereas the opposite can sometimes be true with the judge who ordinarily puts a big smile on the face of Virginia criminal defense lawyers. Being human, judges have days when they perform great and days when they are out of tune. Having oaths and the governing law to follow, judges who would want to rule in your favor are not allowed to do so when the law dictates otherwise, but, then again, judges who are personally hostile to your position have no choice but to follow the law even if doing so favors your position.

Am I guaranteed a continuance in Fairfax court? Should I appeal?

Fairfax continuances are a subject I have blogged about many times, and you can find out some of the factors that favor and disfavor obtaining a trial date continuance in this courthouse here and by doing a keyword search on this blog. Those with the most burning interest in knowing if they can obtain a continuance are unrepresented criminal defendants, but by definition, their being represented means my fund of knowledge in that area is limited to what I observe in passing. As to whether you should appeal if convicted in District Court, that presents its own possibilities and risks, and you should fully and timely discuss that with your Virginia criminal defense lawyer. It is nice, at the very least, that starting your misdemeanor case in Virginia District Court and having an appeal opportunity for a whole new trial in Circuit Court gives you two bites at the apple to pursue victory, unless the prosecutor decides to avoid that possibility by obtaining a nolle prosequi / non-prejudicial dismissal in District Court and then direct indicts the defendant in Circuit Court.

Being charged with a Virginia DUI, felony or misdemeanor offense can put your back against the wall, at least until you obtain the right lawyer for you. You didn’t ask to be prosecuted, but now you get a chance to fight like hell in your defense, like you have never fought before. Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz has successfully defended thousands of criminal defendants, busting his but in pursuing the best possible results in court. Call 703-383-110o for your free in-person consultation with Jon Katz about your cour-pending case.