Virginia Criminal Charges & Out-of-State Individuals

If someone is charged with a crime while visiting Virginia and they live in another part of the state, or in another state, the first thing they should do is call a local Virginia criminal defense attorney to find out the expectations of the person by the court in that particular location.

For a person from out-of-state, sometimes the charge requires they appear before a judge, where other times a Virginia criminal defense lawyer can appear in their stead with what’s called a waiver of appearance. It is important that a person charged with a crime in Virginia contacts an attorney, finds out where they need to appear, when they need to appear, and if an attorney can appear for them.

Unique Aspects of the Virginia Judicial System

People who are from out-of-state and are charged in Virginia may not know about the Virginia justice system. The most common misconception concerns reckless driving in Virginia, When someone is charged with reckless driving by speeding in Virginia they do still have to appear in court for that charge, they cannot simply pre-pay the ticket and avoid court.

Because reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense, a person charged with reckless driving must appear in court. In some circumstances, a defense attorney can appear for them, but the person cannot simply pre-pay the offense and not show up in court. If a person fails to show up, the court issues a capias, which means they send a show cause to the sheriff. This means that a warrant is issued for the person’s arrest and they must come to court and explain why they did not attend court the first time. This can differ slightly depending on the location of a person’s court date, but generally this is how it works.

Additionally, the person in this situation will be charged with failure to appear, another misdemeanor offense in Virginia. Not showing up for a court date is probably the most common mistake an out-of-state defendant will make. In Virginia a person can’t pre-pay a misdemeanor offense even if it is for something like reckless driving by speed.

Most Important Steps to Take

The top three most important things a person can do after being charged with a crime are first, to call a Virginia criminal defense attorney. It’s extremely important to call and have an attorney involved in the case right away. The local Virginia criminal defense attorney can advise a person on how to proceed, who to talk to, and who not to talk to about their case. An attorney can find information, evidence, and witnesses to help prepare the most comprehensive defense of the case.

The second most important thing a person can do after being charged with a crime, is to write down everything they remember about the case. They should write down anything they remember that somebody said, or any facts that come to mind while it’s still fresh in their memory. This is something that should be done immediately after calling an attorney so the person doesn’t forget very important things to bring to their attorney’s attention.

Finally, the third and most important thing that the person should remember to do after being charged with a crime is to not talk to anybody else about the case. It is common that somebody wants to tell their parents or a friend, or talk about what might happen to them based on the facts of their case. It is important to understand that anything a person says to somebody who isn’t their attorney could potentially be used against them later on. It might be found out by the police and might ultimately result in their conviction.