Home » Blog » Criminal Defense » Handling Virginia Police Encounters – View of a Criminal Lawyer

Handling Virginia Police Encounters – View of a Criminal Lawyer

Call Us: 703-383-1100

Handling Virginia police encounters- View of Fairfax criminal lawyer- Photo of cell bars

Handling Virginia police encounters- View of Fairfax criminal lawyer

Handling Virginia police encounters helps decide how bad things will get or not, says Fairfax criminal defense lawyer

A minor police encounter for an alleged traffic moving violation or for any other police interaction can mushroom into worse. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that skilled police know how to convince even some of the most recalcitrant suspects to talk to them and to consent to searches. The first amounts to waiving one’s Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and the second waives one’s Fourth Amendment right to decline a consent search. A Virginia criminal suspect’s waiver or not of such vital rights can mean the difference between a fatal result and a much better one. Handling this right is essential for a suspect.

What happens in a Virginia police pressure scenario and handling good cop / bad cop situations?

Police have the option to create discomfort and tension in a criminal suspect or arrestee, while being the providers of comfort in exchange for compliance, starting with gestures as small as granting bathroom breaks and providing water. Skilled police are good at playing good cop / bad cop. If the suspect is unsure about whether he wants to answer police questions, the bad cop can yell expressions of irritation down the hall to the good cop for the suspect to hear. Police can pursue confessions with even subtler tactics, for instance by putting the arrestee in a room deprived of all sensory diversions other than having a lightbulb illuminated. By the time one or more of the police come to the arrestee a good time later, this is an opportunity to see if the defendant breaks the silence, and then some. Handling police encounters is as simple as knowing and exercising one’s rights.

What happens when Virginia police arrest a suspect?

Once police have probable cause to arrest a suspect, they are in control about whether to issue a criminal summons or arrest a suspect, how tightly to apply the handcuffs, and when to leave the scene to transport the suspect to see the Virginia court magistrate. The resulting discomfort and feeling of lost control by the arrestee is an opportunity for police to try to break the arrestee’s initial silence or refusal to conduct searches without a warrant. Handling such police behavior remains simply asserting one’s rights to remain silent and to decline consent searches.

Why risk the severe damage that can come from handling talking with the police without the suspect’s or arrestee’s lawyer present?

Police may try to convince a suspect to talk with them in exchange for being released on a summons to return to court, rather than being handcuffed and brought to the court magistrate to receive a warrant of arrest. The police do not need to tell suspects that if they get arrested, they will within a few hours be brought before a magistrate, who will either set bond and pretrial release conditions, or detain the arrestee without bond. (Note that the Fairfax chief prosecutor and some other Virginia commonwealth’s attorneys disfavor cash bonds /bail versus personal recognizance, pretrial supervision, or no bond in certain situations.) Nor do the police have to tell the suspect that any denial by the magistrate to set a bond that the arrestee can afford or to set workable pretrial release conditions, permits the defendant to schedule a bond hearing before a Virginia District Court judge. Handling this stage needs to include the arrestee’s knowing the importance of telling the magistrate the information to help secure bond, while keeping silent about the alleged crime, lest doing otherwise gets used against the defendant.

How does a bond hearing work in Virginia District Court?

If the court magistrate does not grant a reasonable bond, the defendant may schedule a District Court bond hearing in the event that the judge does not set bond at the arraignment date that follows the arrest. The judge can overturn or modify the Magistrate’s bond order, but if the defendant is arrested on a Friday night and a federal holiday falls on the following Monday, the earliest the suspect will see a judge is the following Tuesday. Handling this situation calls for knowing that the Virginia courts do not operate on a daily basis, unlike some states whose courts hold bond hearings even on weekends.

If the judge or magistrate allows the suspect to appear in court on his or her own promise to return to court on the defendant’s own accord, that is great.  If the magistrate sets a bond that has to be paid to get released, the defendant is left to decide whether to pay the bond by cash or 10% to a bail bond company, to seek a lower bond in front of a judge, or to do nothing. Handling bond payment needs to include consideration that a 10% payment to a bail bond company will never be returned to the Virginia criminal defendant, nor anyone paying on the defendant’s behalf.

What do I need to review in a Virginia criminal recognizance?

Upon release after a Virginia arrest, the criminal defendant will be given a document called a recognizance, pursuant to Virginia Code § 19.2-135. The recognizance recites the terms and conditions of the defendant’s release. Two of the most important things to check on the recognizance is whether the defendant is permitted to leave the Commonwealth of Virginia and whether there are is an obligation to be in touch with the pretrial release authorities.  Also essential for handling the recognizance is to check and adhere to the court date, time, and location listed on the recognizance; to know whether the first court date is an arraignment, trial or preliminary hearing; and to know whether hiring a lawyer before any Virginia arraignment date will make unnecessary the defendant’s and defense lawyer’s appearance at that court proceeding.

What do I do to seek an amendment to my Virginia criminal recognizance?

If a Virginia criminal defendant want to seek a beneficial amendment to the case recognizance, s/he may set a hearing with the District Court. Beware any risk, even if low, that the District Court judge may impose worse pretrial release conditions on the defendant than are on the original recognizance. The best approach for handling this is to have a qualified lawyer at any proceeding to seek a bond, reduction of bond, or amendment to pretrial release conditions.

When should I hire a lawyer for my Virginia criminal defense?

If you are facing a jailable criminal charge, the sooner you obtain a qualified Virginia criminal defense lawyer, the sooner your lawyer can get to work pursuing your best possible defense, and the sooner your lawyer can recommend proactive steps that you may take to assist with handling any case negotiations and sentencing. A criminal conviction risks one’s liberty and reputation, so an early full court press is ideal.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jon Katz pursues your best possible defense against Virginia felony, misdemeanor and DUI prosecutions in Northern Virginia and beyond. Call 703-383-1100 for a free in-person consultation with criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz about your court-pending case.

1 Comment

  1. globaltel on September 9, 2020 at 12:55 am

    Absolutely right. A well-trained officer can talk to the suspects and could nail and convenience the suspect. This is why officers should have mandatory updated training. Especially right now for digital ages.