If you are charged with a crime in Fairfax, Virginia the following is what you need to know regarding your arrest, how it may take place, and when you will likely be released. To learn more or discuss your case with an experienced attorney, call and schedule a consultation with a Fairfax criminal lawyer today.
In Virginia, if you’re arrested for an offense, two things can happen. There are certain offenses on which police have to release the person on a summons. These are low level offenses either Misdemeanors or below where if you are arrested, you may not even be placed in handcuffs or formally “arrested” in the classic sense of the term, but rather issued a summons that constitutes an arrest. In these situations, for example simple possession of marijuana, after police conduct their investigation they will ask you to sign the summons promising that you will appear in court. After you do that you will be released and the “arrest” process will be concluded.
If you are actually formally “arrested”, for example in a DUI case, you will be brought to “booking”, which is usually in the local detention center, or jail. In a DUI case, once in booking, police will ask you to blow into a breathalyzer machine to measure your blood alcohol content. After you’ve been searched again, processed into “booking” and the investigation is concluded for the night, you will go in front of a magistrate.
A magistrate is a neutral, detached person who will review the facts of your case to determine whether probable cause exists to issue a warrant. The magistrate will hear the evidence against you as provided by the complaining witness or the police officer. If the magistrate determines that the crime has occurred, they will issue a warrant for your arrest and it will be served on you right then and there. The magistrate is also responsible for setting a bond in your case.
After the court issues their warrants they will make a bond determination based upon your prior criminal history, where you reside, and whether you’re a flight risk. If you can make that bond, you will be released until you will have to come back to court at a later day. However, if you cannot make the bond, you’ll be arraigned in front of a judge in the next day or two.
At arraignment the judge will ask you whether you want to hire your own attorney or whether you want the court appoint an attorney. After making that determination, the following day, after arraignment typically a bond hearing will be set where either a court appointed attorney or your attorney will argue for a reduction in bond so that you’re not sitting in jail pending the next court date.
You are charged when you’re arrested, whether police issue a summons or if they formally arrest you and bring you in front of a magistrate. Both a summons and a warrant can act as the official charging document and once either of those are issued and served on you, you are formally charged with the offense(s).
Once you are arrested, you can request an attorney, but police don’t have to drop what they’re doing and allow you to call one immediately. They should provide you an opportunity to contact an attorney shortly after your arrest, but are not legally mandated to do so. It is ultimately up to the police officers or the jail in determining if you will be allowed to contact an attorney.
You can of course contact an attorney once you are released by police after you’ve been officially charged. If you are held on bond pending arraignment, if you hire an attorney they should be able to get in touch with you fairly easily. If you’re held on some kind of bond and don’t hire an attorney prior to arraignment, you can request an attorney in front of a judge and they will either appoint one or allow you to contact one.