If you’re arrested in Alexandria, you will be typically charged with an offense under the state code of Virginia and there are several things you can expect. Contact a criminal defense attorney in Alexandria if you have been arrested, to discuss how to go forward with your specific case.
For certain offenses you must be released on a summons, these offenses are numerous and are provided in the Virginia code. That means that you will not be arrested in the traditional sense rather you will sign a summons on which you promise to appear on the court date. You often won’t be handcuffed nor fingerprinted. These are typically more minor offenses, like traffic offenses, or even misdemeanors.
In those instances where you are released on a summons, you will sign a yellow summons sheet which will tell you that you have to appear on a later date. And at that later date, you will go to court, it typically is about a month or so after you are issued the summons. If fail to appear on that court date a warrant will issue for your arrest.
If you are arrested in the traditional sense and brought back to booking, you will go in front of a magistrate who will determine whether probable cause exists to issue a warrant based up the sworn statements of police or other witnesses to what occurred that led you to be in that position.
Additionally, you can be charged in an indictment for a felony. In that case, the state can bypass the warrant requirement and can put a case to a grand jury to obtain an indictment. The indictment would then be your charging document rather than a warrant or a summons. That is a less common way to be charged with a crime but does happen. Any of those three things can be a charging document:
Arraignment in Virginia and Alexandria will happen after you’re first arrested or released on a summons. You will then go in front of a judge and the judge will ask whether you want to hire your own attorney or have one appointed by the court. If you’re asking for a court-appointed attorney, the court will have you fill out some paperwork to see if you qualify financially. If you don’t, you will be asked to hire your own attorney.
Either way, at the arraignment, you do not plead guilty, and there will be a minimal discussion of the charges against you and the facts of your case. It is best not to discuss your charges with the judge at that time, because anything you say can be used against you. The purpose of an arraignment is merely to set the next court date and to determine the status of representation.
Arraignment should be brief and limited in scope whether you’re going to hire an attorney or want one appointed and to pick the next date. The next date will selected by the court will be either for trial if the charge is a misdemeanor or preliminary hearing if it is a felony.
If you are actually formally arrested, what will happen is you’ll be searched, handcuffed and taken back to the booking which is usually the jail or detention center in the county where you were arrested. When you get there you will be searched again because you’re going into a secured facility.
If you’ve been arrested for DUI, that’s where the Breathalyzer machine is and if you agree to provide a sample they will observe you for some period of time and then have you blow into the Intoxilyzer machine.
If you’re not arrested for DUI, you’ll be booked into the jail and go in front of the magistrate. A magistrate is a neutral detached person who will make a determination whether there is probable cause to believe that you’ve committed the offenses that police say you committed.
The magistrate will also set bond or determine that no bond is appropriate. If you are held on some bond or without bond, the next step after arrest will be going to court for arraignment and after that, a possible bond motion.
At arraignment, you will tell the court whether you want a court-appointed attorney, or whether you will hire your own. The only other step that can happen after arrest but before arraignment is that the police can interview you while you are under arrest. If that occurs, police must read you your Miranda warnings and if you request for an attorney they can’t make you answer questions without one. That’s typically what happens after arrest in Alexandria.