Process of An Arrest in Virginia

Despite what you may think based on television or movies, your initial arrest is only the beginning of your interaction with the judicial system. As a result, it is important that you know what to expect at each step and what mistakes to avoid at all costs. To learn more or discuss building a defense, call and schedule a consultation with a Virginia criminal defense attorney today.

Steps of An Arrest

When you are arrested for an offense in Virginia, there are many different things that can happen, but most likely, you will be put in handcuffs immediately and you will be brought before a magistrate, usually in a police vehicle. The magistrate will then hear the charges against you from the police officer and issue a warrant against you.

Then, you’ll be brought over to the sheriff’s office for booking or to the detention center in your county. Throughout the booking process, you’ll have to answer a series of questions. You will be asked about what you do, if you’re taking any medication; you’ll be asked your name and address and they will eventually fingerprint you and take your picture and process you through. After this process, a bond determination will be made, either remotely through a video screen from the magistrate or you’ll be taken back to that same magistrate.

When Will I Have to Return to Court?

Depending on whether or not you are able to be released “on your own recognizance” (which is a promise to appear in court for your court date)  or whether you’re released on bond, you’ll be given your court date by the magistrate and you’ll be told when to come back and where to come back. If you’re not released, then you will be given a chance to call your attorney and let them know that you would like them to file a bond motion on your behalf. You would want to do this to appear in front of the judge and have him or her reconsider the bond that the magistrate put on your case or give you bond if the magistrate, at the time, decided not to give you bond.

Miranda Rights During An Arrest

Miranda Rights refer to certain procedural safeguards that the Courts have put in place to protect your rights against self-incrimination, or giving evidence to police that they can use to convict you at trial.

A common misconception about Miranda Rights is that they always apply to interactions with the police. However, Miranda Rights don’t apply until after you are under arrest. An arrest can happen when the police put you in handcuffs and put you into their vehicle, when they tell you that you are under arrest, or even sometimes when you are just in a situation where you don’t feel free to leave. Miranda rights apply to any of these situations.

Do My Miranda Rights Automatically Apply?

Miranda Rights have to be asserted. So, if you are speaking with police officers about your case and you choose to speak with them without your attorney present, you are considered to have “waived” those rights and anything you say will be able to be brought against you at court.

If you choose to invoke your Miranda Rights, you should do so very clearly. You want to say, “I have the right to an attorney; I do not wish to speak with you However, if you are read your Miranda Rights by police officers and you continue to speak, your rights are considered waived and anything that you do or say will be used by the police as well as the prosecution to help bolster their case against you.

Mistakes to Avoid During The Arrest Process

During an arrest process, you should avoid speaking about any facts or any information about your case whatsoever. It’s never a wise idea, even if the police officers or somebody tells you that if you just explain yourself or give the officers your side of the story, they will let you go  without charging or arresting you. That’s simply not true and in most cases, it’s used as a way to get you to tell the police officers about the case which could then be used as evidence against you, once your case gets into the court system.
Another mistake that should be avoided during the arrest process is attempting to resist arrest or to be anything except polite and cooperative with the police officers. This type of behavior could be considered, by the police officers, to be resisting arrest or even  assault on a police officer, both separate charges that can be brought against you. For example, cursing, struggling, even spitting can be considered grounds for another offense to be brought against you, such as obstruction of justice or even assault on the police officer. You should definitely do your best to avoid this sort of behavior.

Also during the arrest process, trying to prevent the police officers from finding out  your name is something that a lot of people think is the appropriate route to take, but unfortunately, in Virginia, you need to provide the police officers with your full (actual) name. It’s a common thing for people to give the police officer a nickname or their friend’s name because they’re worried about getting into trouble. This constitutes a separate offense in Virginia and can get you into a lot more trouble so make sure that you identify yourself correctly and truthfully, but you do not need to give them any information beyond that.