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Fairfax first criminal and DUI court dates- What to expect

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Fairfax first criminal and DUI court dates are best preceded by a full debriefing by a qualified attorney

Fairfax first criminal and DUI court dates can involve many procedural aspects, sometimes procedures that are not obvious or seem archaic. As a criminal defense lawyer headquartered in Fairfax County, Virginia, I urge that it is ideal for defendants to consult with a qualified lawyer before their first court date, ideally with a lawyer you have already hired to defend you in court. At the same time, if your first court date is an arraignment date, you do not need a lawyer on that date, but you do need to know whether this date is actually an arraignment date and not a trial date.

What happens if I am not in the courtroom when the judge calls my arraignment or attorney review hearing on my Fairfax first court date for such proceedings?

If you obtain a qualified lawyer for your Fairfax first criminal arraignment or attorney review date, ask your lawyer if you need still to appear for that date. Once I am hired, I avoid both my client and my needing to appear at both the Fairfax arraignment and attorney review date by timely and correctly filing my written appearance with the appropriate court personnel. (Note that some courts require Virginia criminal defendants to appear for their arraignment dates even after they have a lawyer hired.) If you do not have a lawyer hired before your Fairfax arraignment or attorney review date, make sure to appear at the courthouse well before your court time, to provide for possibly heavy traffic, slowness in the court parking garage (my clients receive complimentary dashboard parking passes to park at my office lot across the street from the court’s rear entrance), sometimes long lines to enter through courthouse security, and finding your courtroom. If the judge calls your name when you are not in the courtroom (even if you are in the restroom, unless you have a friend or relative to say so), you can expect the judge to mark that you failed to appear, and to issue a new criminal charge against you for failure to appear in court (which is a felony if your underlying criminal charge is a felony). If you learn that you have a failure to appear charge against you, the sooner you obtain a qualified lawyer to request that any open arrest warrant against you be withdrawn, the better.

How much time and how many dates do I need to set aside for my Virginia DUI and criminal court dates?

Your Fairfax first criminal or DUI trial date may conclude in the morning or maybe later in the day, and may or may not continue to a later date. If you have a lawyer, your attorney can explain all that to you. You have a Sixth Amendment Constitutional right to a lawyer. However, whether a judge gives you more time to hire a lawyer depends on such factors as whether this is your first time appearing before a judge, the period of time passing between your arrest or criminal charging date and the first court date, and whether you already have a lawyer whose appearance is entered with the court. One of three things typically will happen on your first non-arraignment / non-attorney review Fairfax District Court date- the case gets settled or dismissed; your case proceeds to trial; or your case gets rescheduled. Here is more on what to expect for your Fairfax DUI case procedure.

What happens if my witnesses and/or I fly or drive from far away and learn on the trial day that the prosecutor is seeking a scheduling postponement?

Sometimes for Fairfax first trial dates, criminal defendants go to great expense of time, travel expense, and/or expert witness appearances only to learn not until the trial date that the prosecutor is seeking to reschedule the court date. Remember that it is the judge who decides on such requests, not the prosecutor. When the prosecutor seeks a same-day postponement, I advise my client whether to object or not, and when I do object, I have such arguments ready as questioning when the prosecutor or their witness knew of the circumstance that led to the trial date postponement request, why the prosecutor was not notified earlier (if s/he was not so notified), and why I was not notified earlier. When a Fairfax or other Virginia criminal or DUI defendant has such extra expenses as plane travel or an expert witness, their criminal defense lawyer can put the court and prosecutor on written notice of that, to help blunt any prosecution efforts to obtain a postponement on or near the trial date.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz fights for your best defense and great results against Virginia DUI, misdemeanor and felony prosecutions. Call 703-383-1100 for your free in-person confidential consultation with Jon about your court-pending case.