What to expect for a Criminal Case in Loudoun County, Virginia
The Loudoun County Virginia Courthouse is located at 18 E Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia. The Loudoun County Courthouse includes the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, General District Court, and Circuit Court. If you have a criminal case in Loudoun County, Virginia, read below on their procedures.
Loudoun County Criminal Process
A typical criminal case in Loudoun County, Virginia start either when you are arrested or given a summons to appear in court. A summons is simply a piece of paper that requires you to come to court to answer for your charge at a hearing in the courthouse. Your summons will have critical information such as officer’s name, your next court date, your charge, and location of the courthouse. The officer or trooper issuing the summons will ask you to sign the summons to acknowledge you received it. Typically you will receive summons without an arrest for certain types of misdemeanors such as reckless driving, disorderly conduct, trespass, and drunk in public.
If your charge is more serious, the officer will take you into custody or arrested instead of just a summons. Once you are arrested, the officer will take you you to the police station in the Alexandria Detention Center and in front of a magistrate. The magistrate is a judicial official who will issue warrants for arrest and make the initial finding about whether to release you on bond. Charges that result in arrests can include DUI, Larceny, and any serious drug charges.
What happens after I am arrested or given a summons?
If you are arrested and released or given a summons, you will be given a date to return to court–usually just a few days following your arrest in Loudoun. Make sure to show up on that date and time. If you do not, there are several potential consequences. They include losing any bond you posted, an additional charge of Failure to Appear, and a bench warrant for your arrest.
What generally happens at a first appearance in a misdemeanor case?
Yours will not be the only case, as Loudoun County is a very busy courthouse. You will be waiting with many others. If you have not hired an attorney at this point, you will have to wait in the courtroom until the judge calls your case. At that point, the judge will inform you of the charges and your right to an attorney.
The judge will then give you a court date at which to appear with your attorney. And often in Loudoun County, the judge will give you a separate date prior to the trial date at which time you need to notify the court of who your attorney will be. You should find an attorney right away, do not wait until a week before your next court date. You can also ask for a court-appointed attorney if you cannot afford one.
In order to get a court-appointed attorney, you must be facing charges for which you might receive a jail sentence and you must be unable to afford one. After you make your request, the judge will have you go to court services to fill out forms so that he or she can determine whether you qualify for a court appointed attorney. Note that if you are ultimately found guilty, you will have to repay your attorney fees to the state.
What if my case is a felony case?
Felony cases are more complex. If your case is a felony case, your first court date will usually be an arraignment, which will be similar to a first appearance on a misdemeanor.
After that you will have a preliminary hearing date. You should retain an attorney immediately upon being charged with a felony to allow your counsel sufficient time to prepare your defense.
If you do not waive the preliminary hearing, and you usually should not, the prosecutor will try to put on enough evidence for a judge to find “probable cause” that you committed the felony crime you are charged with. If the judge finds probable cause, the case will then go to a grand jury for indictment. If the grand jury returns an indictment as a “true bill,” then the case will proceed to Circuit Court.
After the case proceeds to a grand jury, and if an indictment is issued, then a trial date will be selected.
Loudoun Civil Process
A civil case in Loudoun County may be started through civil complaint or through a summons or other similar type of civil filing–such as a warrant in debt or an unlawful detainer. The initial paperwork will be served on the opposing party, who then must decide how to respond.
Loudoun General District Court
The Loudoun General District Court has jurisdiction on civil cases up to $25,000.00 in controversy, civil protective orders, and a range of other civil matters. A civil plaintiff will file a warrant in debt, unlawful detainer, or other civil filing in General District Court to initiate the. This document will include a return date and it will be served on the defendant.
This return date is the date at which the defendant must appear in court and inform the court whether they agree or disagree with the allegations. If the defendant does not show up, then the court may grant default judgment against the judgment. Likewise, if the defendant appears and agrees with the allegation, then the court will grant judgment for the plaintiff.
If the defendant appears at the return date and disagrees with the plaintiff’s allegation, then the court will generally require that each side submit pleadings–a bill of particulars by the plaintiff and answer and defenses by the defendant–by certain dates. Unlike many other jurisdictions, the judge will then usually order an intermediate status date, at which point the parties must appear again to set a trial date.
At the trial date the court will hear testimony, review evidence, and issue a ruling (assuming the defendant appears at the return date and disagrees with the allegations).
Following a trial in General District Court, the losing party has ten days to appeal the matter to Circuit Court.
Loudoun County Circuit Court
The Loudoun Circuit Court has jurisdiction on civil disputes over $25,000.00, appeals from General District Court, and numerous other civil matters. Most circuit court civil cases are initiated through a civil complaint. This complaint is served on the defendant, at which time a defendant generally has 21 days to file a responsive pleading with the court.
The civil process in Circuit Court may involve in-depth discovery, motions, and procedural requirements that are more complex than general district court. Following this process, if the case is no dismissed, then the case will proceed to a judge or jury.
Whether the case is in General District Court or Circuit Court, there are numerous deadlines and important procedural requirements in each case. In addition, the local procedures and rules change frequently, so always consult with an attorney regarding your rights and obligations.
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If you have a case in Loudoun County, contact the office today to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney.