Virginia Criminal Defense Attorneys

Our attorneys are admitted to practice in Virginia, and have handled numerous felony and misdemeanor cases in the Northern Virginia area, including Arlington County, Fairfax County, and the City of Alexandria.

Virginia’s judicial branch has many courts, and this system may be confusing to people from outside of the state. Generally speaking, misdemeanor cases in Virginia are tried in the General District Court, and felonies are tried in the Circuit Court. Criminal cases can be appealed to the Virginia Court of Appeals, and also the Virginia Supreme Court. Finally, there are separate Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts, which handle certain types of crimes involving juveniles, as well as adult misdemeanors involving family members (e.g., domestic violence).

The prosecutors are called Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys, who are employees of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.  There is usually one Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office for each county or city, led by a head prosecutor called the Commonwealth’s Attorney. Depending on the size of the prosecutor’s office, the head prosecutor may or may not be responsible for actually handling cases in court.

Most criminal cases in Virginia begin with a summons—which happens in cases involving minor offenses—or an arrest. A summons tells you the date and time you need to appear for your first court hearing. If you have been arrested, you will either receive documentation noting the date and time for your first hearing when you are released on bond, or be brought to the hearing at an appropriate time by the marshals. At your first appearance, the presiding judge will tell you the crime you have been charged with, and ask you if you have an attorney. If you do not have an attorney and cannot afford one, you can ask the judge to appoint an attorney for you.

Resist the urge to speak with the prosecutor or the police to “explain” your case at this first appearance. Not only is the action likely going to be detrimental to you, but a responsible Virginia prosecutor will usually tell you to communicate with him or her only through an attorney. Instead, you should make every effort to consult an attorney before your first appearance, so that you are prepared for the judge’s questions. In addition, your attorney may be able to speak with the prosecutor at this first appearance, and can obtain more information regarding your case than you would be able to alone.

Here are some matters in Virginia that our attorneys have handled.