If you’ve been charged with a federal felony then your Virginia criminal defense lawyer is likely going to try to settle your case or have it dismissed prior to trial. While your attorney will make sure that your rights are protected, it is important to know the stages of a federal criminal case in Virginia.
Virginia Criminal Case Procedures
As a criminal defendant you should be prepared for:
- An initial appearance. At this appearance you will be informed of your constitutional rights, including your right to counsel. You will also be informed of the charges against you and the maximum sentence associated with those charges.
- A bail hearing. If the federal government wants you detained then bail will be the next matter brought before the court. In some cases it may be raised at the initial appearance, or it could occur a few days later.
- An arraignment. If an initial appearance was not held and you are indicted by a grand jury then you may learn of the charges against you and the specifics of the indictment at an arraignment.
- Pretrial motions. There are many different types of pretrial motions that may be brought in your case. Those motions include motions to dismiss, motions about evidence, and other types of motions that could end, or have a significant bearing, on your federal criminal case.
- Plea Bargaining. You will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Plea bargaining is the equivalent of settlement negotiations in civil cases and may occur during the course of your federal case.
- Trial. It is at trial that arguments and evidence are presented to the court and to a jury by both the government prosecutors and your Northern Virginia defense lawyer. If the case ends in a not guilty verdict then the case is complete. If, however, the case ends in a guilty verdict then your case is not finished.
- Sentencing. A sentencing hearing may be held to determine what the penalties will be for your conviction.
The time line for these steps of a Virginia federal criminal case may differ and you may, or may not, get to all of them before having your case dismissed or a plea bargain accepted.
Criminal Procedures May be Complicated
There are important decisions to make at each stage of a criminal case. Thus, it is important to be prepared, to know your rights, and to fight for justice. For more information about protecting your rights, please contact a Fairfax federal criminal defense lawyer today.