The court process in Fairfax following a sex crimes arrest can get complicated and lengthy. Therefore if you are facing a sex crimes charge it is imperative you consult with a Fairfax sex crimes lawyer who can guide you through the legal process and help you build the strongest defense possible.
If you are arrested on a warrant, the first thing that’s going to happen is you are going to be brought before a magistrate and the magistrate will hold you without bond until you can appear before a judge in the General District Court at which point the judge in the General District Court will decide whether or not you can be released on bail pending your preliminary hearing.
At that point, you will be advised of your right to have an attorney present. You will be advised of the charge against you and you will be advised of the penalties that you face. The next hearing date will be the – an arraignment date in the General District Court, if you have been released, then you must appear in the General District Court at 10:30 a.m. on the arraignment date. The court then again will advise you your right to have counsel and determine whether or not you are going to apply for a court-appointed counsel or whether or not you will retain a private attorney.
A preliminary hearing date is then set, which is a probable cause hearing and is the phase in which plea agreements are negotiated between the defense and the prosecution to determine how the case is going to go forward.
After that, if the case is going to be prosecuted as a felony, a preliminary hearing is conducted; witnesses are presented to support probable cause of the offense. The defense attorney would then have the ability to cross-examine these witnesses and then the court would make a determination of whether or not there is probable cause to support that the accused was the offender and that a felony had in fact been committed.
If the judge finds that, then the case is certified to the grand jury. The grand jury is a secret proceeding in which 12 people hear the evidence from the same law enforcement officer and again determine whether there i s probable cause to indict the person. The indictment is the formal charge and the indictment is set forth by the grand jury and that is a formal charge that the accused needs to answer to.
Then the next court date is what is called term day, which means the offender appears in court, in Circuit Court at 9:00 a.m. in Fairfax and is again advised of the charge against him or her and a trial date is then set.
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