Virginia Criminal Case FAQ

Virginia Criminal Case Frequently Asked Questions

Our clients present us with many questions related to Virginia criminal cases. Some of these include:

What is the structure and progression of Virginia criminal case?

What is the bond or bail hearing and how do I know if I will get bond?

Should I plea bargain or go trial?

How do I choose a Virginia criminal defense lawyer?

Should I be tried by a judge (bench trial) or by a jury?

Does my prior criminal record matter for purposes of my current Virginia criminal charges?

Should I testify in my Virginia criminal trial?

If I am convicted of a crime in Virginia, what steps do I take to appeal. Can things get worse if I appeal my conviction?

What is a habeas corpus proceeding in Virginia?

How do I choose a Virginia federal crime defense attorney?

What is the structure and progression of Virginia criminal case? [Back to top ]

A Virginia criminal case usually starts when a citizen or a police officer swears out a criminal complaint and affidavit. Frequently the criminal complaint is presented to a magistrate who determines probable cause. For many Virginia misdemeanor criminal complaints, the magistrate, upon finding probable cause, will issue an arrest warrant against the defendant. For other misdemeanor complaints and frequently for felony complaints, the complaint will be forwarded to a police detective for further investigation.

Sometimes the Virginia police detective will contact the suspect and ask him to come to the station to discuss the matter. Sometimes the Virginia police detective will show up at the suspect’s residence to “talk.” If you re contacted by a police detective regarding a pending investigation it is extremely important that you contact a competent Virginia criminal defense attorney before discussing anything with the police, even if the police indicates to you that “no charges are pending” that “I don’t have a warrant” or that “it is better for you to cooperate now or it might get worse.”

Once a detached magistrate finds probable cause that the suspect committed the offense, an arrest warrant will issue. Bear in mind that a finding of probable cause requires only minimal evidence. It is a far cry from guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard required to convict. If a warrant is issued against you, sometimes the police will contact you to voluntarily surrender yourself. Sometimes the police will show up at your home, work, or any other place you frequent for the purpose of arresting you. In either case, it is important that you contact a competent Virginia criminal defense lawyer for legal advice and to protect your rights. It is extremely important that you are prepared to interact with a highly trained police officer who is on a mission to obtain a “statement” from you. This statement will invariably be used as a confession, whether or not you believe that you actually confessed. A mistake here can land you in a Virginia jail or even worse, in a Virginia prison.

After being arrested, booked, and processed, you will be taken to a magistrate for a bail hearing. At this hearing, you will be asked several questions to determine whether you are a flight risk or a danger to the community. For more details about your bond hearing, please refer to our Virginia criminal law frequently asked question regarding bail determinations and bond hearings. If you don’t agree with the magistrate’s bail decision, you may have bail heard by the General District Court or the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court depending on the type of case. The decision of the Virginia General District or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court can then be appealed to the Circuit Court, then to the Virginia Court of Appeals, and finally, to the Virginia Supreme Court.

What is the bond or bail hearing and how do I know if I will get bond?

Should I plea bargain or go trial? [Back to top ]

During most criminal cases, there will be a time when your Virginia criminal defense lawyer will negotiate with the Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney.  The plea bargain process will result in either an agreed disposition of your Virginia criminal case or a decision to go to trial.  We can provide you with legal advice to assist you in making the decision of whether to plea bargain or go to trial.

How do I choose a Virginia criminal defense lawyer? [Back to top ]

Should I be tried by a judge (bench trial) or by a jury? [Back to top ]

There are many advantages to a trial by a jury of your Virginia peers.  To convict you, the prosecution must be able to convince the jury panel, your faith will not just be in the hands of a Virginia judge.  However, a jury can’t suspend any time of the sentence.  Our Virginia criminal defense attorneys ma assist you in making the decision of whether to choose to be tried by a Virginia judge or  Virginia jury.

Does my prior criminal record matter for purposes of my current Virginia criminal charges? [Back to top ]

Should I testify in my Virginia criminal trial? [Back to top ]

If I am convicted of a crime in Virginia, what steps do I take to appeal. Can things get worse if I appeal my conviction? [Back to top ]

What is a habeas corpus proceeding in Virginia? [Back to top ]

How do I choose a Virginia federal crime defense attorney? [Back to top ]

Contact a Virginia felony defense lawyer


Virginia (VA) criminal defense, divorce, child custody, reckless driving, dui and federal court attorneyrepresenting clients throughout Virginia. Some of the jurisdictions served include:Henrico County VA, Richmond City, Chesterfield County VA, Hanover County VA, Petersburg County VA, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Quantico, Virginia Beach VA, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania VA, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa, Manassas VA, Woodbridge, Charles City, James City, Gloucester, Tidewater, Portsmouth, Shenandoah, Prince George, Sussex, New Kent, West End of Richmond, Glen Allen, Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News Divisions).

By: Dom Rivera

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