“[N]or shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Constitution, 14th Amendment
The Virginia Code contains hundreds of criminal offenses with a punishment that could range from a simple $50 dollar fine to the extent of a death penalty sentence. All criminal charges are serious and your attorneys should take your case seriously.
A conviction could cost you:
Criminal charges can be taken out by an individual or a police officer by going to the local magistrate and describing criminal activity. Alternatively, if the offense is a misdemeanor and the police officer observes the unlawful behavior, the police officer can write a summons in certain circumstances. Lastly, the Commonwealth can direct indict individuals by presenting the facts to a grand jury and, if the grand jury agrees, then an indictment and capias will be issued for the offender’s arrest.
You will either be found and arrested by the police or you can turn yourself in. The magistrate will determine if the offense is one that allows for a bond or not.
At this point, most people are concerned first with whether bond will be set. If bond is denied by the magistrate, the law requires that a bond hearing be set within three (3) days of a written request by the defendant or the defendant’s attorney. At the bond hearing, you will need to present evidence that you are not a flight risk and that you are not a danger to yourself or society. This is usually done by offering family members, friends, employers and/or co-workers as witnesses to testify about your good upstanding character in the community.
If you were charged by the magistrate issuing a warrant of your arrest, then you are entitled to a preliminary hearing in General District Court. The purpose of this hearing is not to determine guilt or innocence. Rather, the purpose is to determine whether probable cause exists to send your case along up to circuit court for a trial. This is the second time probable cause is determined in your case, the first being either the magistrate’s decision to issue the warrant or the grand juries decision to return an indictment.
Next, you prepare for trial. You should give your attorney names and contact information for anyone who has relevant information about the alleged crimes. Provide any documentation in your possession so that your attorney can review it and request any additional documentation that is not in your possession. The investigation stage largely depends on your input. Additionally, your attorney will file a motion for discovery with the court and get an order requiring the Commonwealth to disclose mandatory information provided for in the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Additionally, any exculpatory information, that is information that tends to prove your innocence, must be disclosed by the Commonwealth to your attorney before trial.
At Overbey, Hawkins & Wright, our attorneys have successfully tried hundreds of criminal cases ranging from simple trespassing to capital murder.
Criminal law is very different from many other areas of law. In criminal cases, there is usually much more at stake than money or principle. The Constitution of the United States of American and the Constitution of Virginia both provide you certain rights that you should be aware of. Our attorneys are very familiar with these provisions and are well-versed in them.
If you have been stopped in violation of your constitutional rights, any evidence that has been seized as a result of that stop, is considered fruit of the poisonous tree and inadmissible to prove your guilt.
We understand the stakes you are facing and we are here to help defend you and make sure that your rights are protected. We routinely handle charges including, but not limited to:
Our attorneys will honestly advise you of the law and of the consequences to your actions. Call us or email us today if you need diligent and competent representation on a criminal charge.