Feb 12, 2020 Prosecution continues fully says Fairfax criminal defense lawyer
Prosecution continues fully in Northern Virginia says Fairfax criminal defense lawyer
Prosecution continues fully in Northern Virginia after vocal reformer chief prosecutors took office in Fairfax County, Arlington and Loudoun. As a Fairfax criminal defense lawyer, I correctly expected that the new chief prosecutors would be no worse for criminal defendants than their immediate predecessors, and significantly better in some important respects.
Assistant commonwealth’s attorneys from the old regimes are still handling prosecution in Northern Virginia prosecutors’ offices
The Northern Virginia chief prosecutors could not have been expected to entirely replace all prosecutors who were working under their predecessors. Engaging in such a complete personnel change would have been chaotic and would have left the new chief prosecutors to play constant catch up with prosecution while interfering with their developing and implementing their own agendas. At the same time, several prosecutors in the Northern Virginia commonwealth’s attorney’s offices have in fact departed either before or upon the new chiefs taking office, being replaced by a combination of private practicing lawyers (some with prior prosecutorial experience), public defender lawyers, and prosecutors from other jurisdictions.
Old habits die hard with, and prosecutors who served under the replaced chief prosecutors are not automatically going to change their approach to prosecution. Of course, if they receive a directive to make certain changes in their prosecutorial approach and do not make the change, they can be at risk of remedial action. Moreover, the prosecutors’ client is the public. Even self-styled progressive or reformist prosecutors are not going to forget that.
Criminal defendants must keep their guards up even if they see better treatment of criminal defendants by Northern Virginia prosecutors’ offices
Even if criminal defendants see improved treatment of criminal defendants by Northern Virginia prosecutors’ offices (for instance with discovery and with the handling of marijuana cases in Fairfax County and Arlington), these are still prosecutors that we criminal defense lawyers are dealing with. It is vital always to be fully prepared for courtroom battle against prosecution, lest the defendant and his or her lawyer gets caught with their pants down, or worse get a broomstick rammed into them.
The new Democratic majority in the Virginia legislature does not spell immediate pro-criminal defendant action
News reports show that simple marijuana possession is not going to get legalized versus decriminalized this year, and numerous key pro-criminal defendant legislation is not going to pass this year. On top of that, it is regrettable that an active prosecutor has been put in charge of a Virginia House subcommittee reviewing criminal statutory law, which makes as much sense as having a wolf guard the henhouse. Legislators deal with many issues beyond criminal law, and if they want to get re-elected and to get their non-criminal law pet projects accomplished, most are not going to put criminal defense-friendly legislation on the top of their agenda at the expense of their remaining key agenda items with prosecution and other items.
Anticipate ongoing criminal defense-friendly changes while fully defending at all times
Certainly, better things will come to Virginia criminal defendants from the 2019 elections for Northern Virginia chief prosecutors and for the state legislature. Nonetheless, the criminal justice system remains fraught with landmines and booby traps. Virginia criminal defendants and their lawyers need to remain fully prepared for courthouse battle against prosecution at all times.
Fairfax criminal defense lawyer Jonathan L. Katz is highly rated and pursues your best defense against felony, misdemeanor and DUI prosecutions. Please call 703-383-1100 to schedule a confidential consultation with Jon Katz