Prince William County Criminal Cases

An individual arrested in Prince William County is taken to the county jail located in downtown Manassas. Part of the jail is structurally attached to the courthouse, and some of it is located just behind the courthouse.

Police will have confiscated a person’s cell phone upon arrest, so the first chance someone will get to speak to a lawyer will be on a jail phone after the person has been taken to the detention center and appeared before a magistrate. The jail should allow a person to make a limited number of free phone calls before beginning to charge the person money for such calls.

A skilled lawyer who is experienced with Prince William County criminal cases could fight for you if you are facing charges. Call an accomplished defense attorney today.

Posting Bail

Once a judge has granted someone bail, the person needs to sign what is called a “bail piece” to establish sufficient financial collateral. A bail piece is essentially a piece of paper detailing the conditions of bail, which most people refer to as a “bail bond.” Bail tends to be set in some multiple of a thousand dollars, and many people do not have the ability or inclination to pay all of that themselves. So the most common way one goes about posting their bail is to pay approximately 10% of that total to a bondsman, who then comes to the jail and co-signs the bail piece to establish sufficient financial collateral for release of the inmate.

A lawyer cannot help a defendant in a bail hearing that is done before a magistrate judge because those happen inside the jail itself before counsel is usually even hired or aware that someone has been taken into custody. However, if a magistrate judge denies bail or sets bail too high, then a lawyer is the only party who can help a defendant schedule and prevail at subsequent bail hearings that are appealed up to district and circuit court judges who can override the magistrate’s initial denial of bail.

Where are Criminal Charges Tried in Prince William County?

Criminal charges are tried in all three of the trial courts located in Prince William County, which include the General District Court (GDC), the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court (JDR), and the Circuit Court (CC). A lawyer who is knowledgeable about Prince William County cases could advocate for a defendant throughout the trial.


Misdemeanors are primarily tried in GDC and JDR, which are the two lower-level district courts that have original jurisdiction for traffic and misdemeanor charges. However, when someone is charged with additional felonies, or when someone successfully reduces a felony to a misdemeanor before or during the trial, it is possible for misdemeanor charges to end up being tried in the higher trial court. It is also possible for misdemeanors to end up in the higher trial court if a grand jury directly indicts someone on a misdemeanor charge.


By law, felonies cannot be tried anywhere other than CC. Nevertheless, felonies most often start out in one of the two lower district courts to go through what is called a preliminary hearing, which is a hearing in GDC or JDR to determine whether there is probable cause to support the felony charges, such that they should be sent up to CC for trial. It is possible for felonies to be dismissed for a lack of probable cause at these hearings, but that is not considered a trial, and prosecutors can bring the felony charges back through a direct indictment from a grand jury in CC if they wish.

Benefits of Working with a Local Attorney

The legal procedures can become technical and logistical depending on the peculiarities of the local criminal justice system. Local lawyers are the most familiar with these procedures, and the parties that will be controlling them such as particular police officers, prosecutors, and judges. To predict and exploit each procedural phase of the case in a defendant’s favor, an accused person is almost always best positioned by working with a local defense attorney throughout the entire case. A local attorney is experienced with Prince William County cases could fight for you throughout the process.

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