Fairfax criminal motions- Insights from a Virginia defense lawyer
Fairfax criminal motions hearings- Insights from a Virginia criminal defense lawyer
Fairfax criminal motions hearing are held for judges to decide on a criminal defendant’s or prosecutor’s request for judicial action prior to the trial or preliminary hearing date. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that some aspects of criminal motions procedural rules and practice may at first seem rigid or strange to a non-lawyer. A good reason for you to obtain a qualified Virginia criminal or DUI defense lawyer is for that lawyer to be comfortable, experienced and effective in handling such motions hearings. Judges want to move litigation matters along, and an effective lawyer will be able to gain the judge’s ear by showing that the attorney is not wasting the court’s time, while still spending the time that is necessary to argue for important judicial relief.
What are some common Fairfax criminal motions that proceed to judicial hearings?
The Virginia trial court system has three courts that all include criminal cases: The General District Court, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, and the Circuit Court. This article will address some common Fairfax criminal motions that are filed and argued in those courts — rather than to be an exhaustive discussion. When you have a qualified lawyer for your Virginia DUI or criminal defense, you may rely on your attorney to advise when and how to argue motions on court. Common Virginia criminal motions include requests for pretrial release, requests to reschedule the trial date, and motions to suppress evidence.
How do Fairfax criminal motions for pretrial release / bond proceed?
When your case is in the Fairfax General District Court or Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, be aware that judges will sometimes consider pretrial release requests on the arraignment date (when the accused has not been released yet, either because the magistrate has denied pretrial release, or because the defendant has not obtained the funds to pay for a bond). However, where the prosecutor asks for an additional day to obtain the defendant’s criminal record or further information about the case, the judge may well grant that extra business day for a Fairfax criminal motions hearing, which can be all the more problematic if the arraignment date is on a Friday, and Monday federal holiday intervenes, which means the following Tuesday will be the bond hearing date, which would be five days after the arrest date.
How close in time to the bond hearing may a Fairfax District Court bond motion be filed?
In Fairfax County General District Court: “All motions for a bond reduction must be filed in writing with the Criminal Clerk’s Office by 3:00 p.m. on the business day prior to the requested hearing date with appropriate notice to the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Court Services Division.” Fairfax General District Court Administrative Procedures at page 42. Filing a bond hearing request — where the hearing will apply Virginia Code § 19.2-120 — past 3:00 p.m. or giving too late or incorrect notice to the Court Service Division (which prepares a bond hearing report for the presiding judge) can result in being denied the requested bond hearing date.
How much time will a Fairfax General District Court judge give to my bond motion hearing?
Fairfax General District Court is typically very busy, handling many cases in a day, let alone in a week. Particularly if the judge wants to move your bond hearing along quickly, your criminal defense lawyer needs to know how to persuade early on and within any short time limitations set by the judge. Your lawyer will want to arrive to the courtroom well before the judge takes the bench, at the very least to make sure that you have been brought to the courtroom for your bond hearing (or that your client will be present by video hookup if not brought live for whatever reason (I request live appearance of my client, but Covid-19 considerations still can affect this aspect of court proceedings). Your lawyer also will wish to arrive early so as to find and review the report prepared by the Court Services Division for the bond hearing, as the judge and prosecutor will have that same report available at that hearing.
What do I do if a Fairfax District Court judge denies me pretrial release or permits too narrow pretrial release?
You have the right to appeal to the Circuit Court from a District Court judge’s denial of your Fairfax criminal motion for pretrial release. Your Virginia criminal defense lawyer will wish to be fully prepared to present a strong pretrial release argument to the District Court and also to the Circuit Court (if a pretrial release request is denied), because appealing a bond denial to the Virginia Court of Appeals or Virginia Supreme Court is less likely to bear fruit, as those latter two appellate courts address whether the trial judge committed any error, and do not proceed with new evidentiary hearings.
How helpful are bond hearing memoranda in the Fairfax courts?
Ideally, your Virginia criminal lawyer will have filed a bond hearing memorandum of law and facts with the court prior to your pretrial release hearing. A well-drafted and argued hearing memorandum starts arguing to the judge before s/he ever takes the bench on the morning of your hearing. However, if you want no delay in holding a bond hearing, your lawyer will have less time to put together a strong pretrial release hearing memorandum. On top of that, it is ideal for you to have at least one or two relevantly persuasive witnesses to testify at your bond hearing. In Circuit Court, your criminal defense lawyer will want to have filed written motions prior to your motions hearing date.
Will your Virginia criminal lawyer’s request be granted for your motion to be heard on the trial date?
In the Fairfax District Court (and in all other Virginia courthouses where I have appeared), judges typically will consider outstanding motions on trial date. In the case of motions to suppress evidence, some Fairfax District Court judge will integrate that motion into the criminal or DUI trial itself, while others will proceed with the motions hearing first, and next continue on to the trial itself.
What is Fairfax court calendar control?
The Fairfax County Circuit Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court ordinarily (at least initially) handle court date continuance requests through the calendar control process. After the pandemic started, both courts handle criminal case calendar control remotely by Webex. Your lawyer will wish to set aside sufficient time for calendar control, because a very busy calendar control day could mean that your case is not called for a substantial period of time. Your Virginia criminal lawyer needs timely and correctly to file the completed paperwork that is needed to schedule a calendar control date.
Virginia criminal court rules and procedures should be seen as stepping stones to opportunity in your case, rather than as pesky minutia
In the abstract, many court rules and procedures seem dry at best and downright boring at worst. However, when applied to your Virginia criminal case, you want your lawyer knowing and having facility with handling those rules and procedures, and not to complain if any of them seem mind-numbing in the abstract. Virginia criminal defense is proverbial war, and the criminal defense battlefield is the place for your lawyer to pursue as much justice for you as possible.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz relentlessly pursues your best defense against Virginia DUI, felony and misdemeanor prosecutions. Call 703-383-1100 for your free initial in-person consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending case.