Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
The following is information you should know regarding what to expect in court for a Fairfax DUI charge. To learn more call and schedule a consultation with a Fairfax DUI lawyer today.
Fairfax DUI cases are first heard, if they are a misdemeanor, in the General District Court. General District Court is only bench trials which means judge-only, and if you’re unhappy with the result, you can appeal it in the circuit court. If it is a felony DUI offense, the trial will be in circuit court alone and there will be no trial in General District Court. When it’s in the circuit court whether on a felony or misdemeanor, you have a right to a jury trial should you want. You also have the right to not request the jury, however, if the commonwealth attorney or the judge wants a jury there will most likely be a jury.
So whether it’s a jury trial or a bench trial, depends on the wishes of the party. The juries only happen on circuit court either on appeal for a misdemeanor or a first time for a felony. And once it’s in the circuit court, it’s still can be a bench trial depends on what the parties want.
Well, for a trial, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a day or two depending. Jury trials take longer and bench trials are shorter. It depends on the facts of each case, how many witnesses the commonwealth is calling, how many witnesses the defense have. The shortest is 30 minutes and the longest is 2 or 3 days.
Yes, DUIs are prosecuted vigorously all throughout the state of Virginia. Almost every jurisdiction treats them very seriously. They are reluctant to break down the charges to lesser offensive and they are reluctant to dismiss the charges. These cases are absolutely prosecuted vigorously.
The prosecution will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you’re operating a motor vehicle and that you’re doing so either under the influence of alcohol or above a .08 blood alcohol content.
So, in order to do that, the prosecutor will typically rely on the testimony of the arresting officer in addition to other indications that you’re under the influence such as your speech or coordination, your eyes, your ability to follow instruction, your ability to perform field sobriety tests, and eventually, any blood alcohol content that you have from the analysis of your breath or blood.
So, typically, that comes through evidence of the arresting officer, other witnesses to the scene and the person who has run the Intoximeter machine will often be a witness to your case.
Sentencing for DUI can happen one of two ways. First of all, you can have an agreement with the prosecutor before going into court, which is typically honored by the judge. If you have a trial with the judge, the judge will determine the appropriate sentence after argument by the prosecutor and the defense attorney.
If you have a trial by a jury, the jury determines the appropriate sentence after argument by the prosecutor and defense attorney. So, it depends on whether you’re going to trial or whether you have an agreement with a prosecutor. You can also plea to a judge without having a trial with the judge do the sentencing if you feel like the charges are going to be fairer than the prosecutor will be.