In Falls Church, what someone should expect after charges are filed depends on the type of case they have and in what jurisdiction their case is being brought. When someone is facing criminal proceedings in Falls Church, they can expect that they will be called into court for an arraignment, at which point they will tell the judge if they have an attorney or if they’d like to hire one. To understand the entire process better and to use it to your advantage, it is helpful to speak with a local attorney as soon as possible.
In some courts there is no separate day for an arraignment. The charges are read against them when they first appear in court on the trial date, and from there their case can be continued or resolved that first day. If charges were filed and there is a warrant out for their arrest, they can expect the warrant to be served on them, the officer to actually arrest them and bring them in for processing and fingerprinting, and then to be released pending their court date. Alternatively, they may be able to facilitate what is called a turn in. This is where the individual turns themselves in, instead of having somebody serve the arrest warrant on them and actually come out to arrest them, and attorneys can help facilitate that process as well.
Then there will be a bond determination if the individual is being held. The magistrate who does the bond determination will make the initial determination on whether someone should be released on their own recognizance, which means they promise to return to court. If they are not released on their own recognizance but can get a bond, they need to pay money to get the bond in order to be released. At that point, they will have a court date set if they are being held. Their attorney can then file to have another bond motion in front of the General District Court judge and they can either make their bond lower, or give them a bond if the magistrate did not do so initially.
Once bond is determined, there is going to be an initial court date. If the individual is charged with a felony, that next court date is going to be a preliminary hearing where the prosecution presents just enough evidence against them to show that there is probable cause to bring the charges. At that point, the case will leave General District Court and go up to the Circuit Court. If it is a misdemeanor, however, it will be set for trial after their initial arraignment or bond hearing, and on their first trial date they will resolve their case, or something will be worked out and they can enter a plea agreement at that time.
If somebody is charged with a misdemeanor in Falls Church, they can expect a few different things. First and foremost, if found guilty there will be a fine of up to $2,500 and a potential jail sentence of up to 12 months, if the prosecution is seeking jail time. If the prosecution is seeking jail time, the individual is entitled to an attorney, so the court will either appoint them an attorney if they cannot afford one, or they will give them some time to hire an attorney on their own.
If the prosecution is not seeking jail time on a misdemeanor, and they are only seeking a fine if they are convicted, they will not be able to have an attorney appointed to them, but they will still be allowed time to go hire an attorney separately if they choose to do so.
The misdemeanor timeline depends very much on the county in which they are being charged. In some counties there will first be an arraignment court date. If they hire an attorney, the attorney can waive the arraignment for them. This means waiving the formal reading of the charges against them and having a court date set in advance. They can then expect a court date for their actual trial. In some jurisdictions this means that any motions the attorney wants to present to the court to suppress the evidence, get evidence thrown out, or make any kind of legal defense, might be done on a separate court date. Whether it is done the day of trial or another day depends on the jurisdiction their case is in.
Their attorney will request the evidence the Commonwealth is going to use against them. In some jurisdictions that evidence is available a few weeks before trial, but in some jurisdictions the day of trial is the soonest it will be turned over to them.
If someone has a case where they need witnesses, the attorney will need to meet with them multiple times, right away, so that they have enough time to issue a legal request for these witnesses to be in court for their trial. This is called a subpoena. Once they have the trial date they can expect that it will be heard by a judge. Should they be found guilty, in most cases they will be asked to serve their sentence right away. Therefore, they will need to arrange in advance with their attorney if they are going to want any kind of delayed sentencing decision or delayed jail turn in, should they get jail time.