Fairfax criminal misdemeanor cases to get prosecutors again
Fairfax criminal misdemeanors for the most part will get prosecutors assigned, when a criminal defense lawyer is involved
For nearly one year, chief Fairfax commonwealth’s attorney Steve Descano made a gambit over being re-electable when he withdrew his office from most Fairfax criminal misdemeanor prosecutions beyond Virginia DUI, assault with intimate partners, and fatal collision prosecutions. His gamble may have paid off, based on a huge influx of cash that the county board of supervisors has approved to increase staffing and funding for the Fairfax prosecutor’s office.
When will this Fairfax criminal misdemeanor prosecution change take effect?
With this May 4, 2021, news release , the chief Fairfax prosecutor announced that the 2022 county budget will allow his office to expand its “caseload to encompass all cases except for minor traffic matters.” It remains to be seen whether “minor traffic matters” includes such lower-level Fairfax criminal misdemeanors as lower-speed reckless driving, driving without a license and driving with a license suspension that does not arise from a Virginia DUI case. My understanding is that this change will take effect by mid-summer 2021, and has started taking place with some more serious Fairfax criminal misdemeanor cases.
How will the county prosecutors’ virtual reversal of non-involvement in most non-DUI misdemeanor cases affect my misdemeanor case?
More funding for prosecutors is a double-edged sword with Fairfax criminal misdemeanor cases. Criminal defendants’ chances of winning at trial are enhanced when no prosecutor represents the other side. A downside of an absence of a prosecutor in a criminal case is the risk of Brady and other obligatory evidence to be less likely to be timely produced to the defense, the risk to the fairness of the trial, the inability to find an opposing prosecutor for signing an agreed order for such relief as rescheduling a court date, and the absence of a prosecutor to enter into a settlement negotiation that can reduce the risk to such collateral matters as security clearance, immigration status, military standing and reputation.
Does the increased Fairfax prosecutorial budget make it more important for me to hire a criminal defense lawyer rather than to go to court alone?
The difference in going to court with a qualified criminal defense lawyer rather than alone can be like the difference between night and day for Fairfax criminal misdemeanor cases and all other criminal cases. Even if the Fairfax prosecutor’s office continues the prior practice of ordinarily not getting involved in misdemeanor cases without a defense lawyer, the Virginia prosecutors are entitled to get involved in cases that have no opposing lawyer, and your chances in court even without a prosecutor can be risky if you proceed without a lawyer.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz has successfully defended thousands of criminal defendants involving dozens of prosecutorial regimes. The key to your best defense is to focus on the challenges at hand and to defend to the hilt. Find out the difference that Virginia criminal and DUI defense lawyer Jon Katz can make in your case by calling 703-383-1100 for a free in-person consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending case.