When an individual is arrested for a DUI in Manassas, they should understand and start preparing for their first court date, and the whole court process. Working with a Manassas DUI attorney can be extremely helpful in this regard.
There are a couple of places that an individual can find information regarding their DUI court date. The first, which is among the paperwork that they received during the arrest process, is a bond form or a recognizance release. The date when the individual is required to be back in court is typically at the top of that form. Another way to get this information is by utilizing the Virginia case information website. Almost all general district courts in Virginia participate in this site. If a person goes to the site, selects their jurisdiction, and searches by their name, they will be able to get current information about their court date.
In some circumstances, an individual can change their court date or get a continuance. In most cases, getting a continuance will need to be processed by an attorney. There is a motions docket in Prince William County that is heard every day where continuances can be requested. A first continuance will usually be granted for almost any reason, including that there is a scheduling conflict for either the defendant or their lawyer. Subsequent continuances typically need to be either by agreement with the Commonwealth or for a good reason, which the judge has to approve.
If an individual pleads not guilty in their case, they are letting the court know that they are contesting what they have been charged with. A plea of not guilty will typically mean that there is going to be a trial to determine guilt or innocence. Under certain circumstances, a not guilty plea may be tendered along with a stipulation that the government’s evidence is sufficient. When determining whether to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest, it is important for the individual to factor the particular facts of the case and tactical considerations of their case, and to do so in consultation with their attorney.
In most cases, it is necessary for an individual to appear at court, even if they have a lawyer, although there are limited exceptions to this. An attorney will review the exceptions with their client before the hearing. An individual should always appear in court and assume that they have to appear in court unless their lawyer tells them otherwise. Generally, if a person fails to appear in court, there are consequences.
The first consequence to failing to appear for a hearing is that the person has committed an independent misdemeanor offense under Virginia law, failure to appear, and that can be punishable by up to 10 days in jail. The second consequence is that the judge will issue a bench warrant for the individual to be arrested and brought to court. Depending on the circumstances, the individual may be held without the ability to get admitted to bail or to get a bond if they did not appear in court the first time. Consequently, it is always important to appear unless an attorney has made it clear that it is not necessary.
If someone is from out-of-state and they are charged in Virginia, it is possible to get their court date moved in order to accommodate travel. An attorney would need to file the motion with the court and in most cases it is relatively easy to have that approved. The individual simply needs to discuss it with their lawyer, file the proper paperwork, and have them adjust the date with the approval of the court.
The consequences for missing a court date are the same for out-of-state, as for in-state. There will be a bench warrant that commands any law enforcement officer, who encounters the individual, to place them under arrest and bring them to court. There is a nationwide database for warrants, particularly arrest warrants, which means that even if someone is pulled over for a speeding ticket in a separate state, they run the risk of being placed under arrest and extradited back to Virginia to face trial.
In the most serious cases, the state of Virginia can even contact the Governor’s office of the state where the driver is from and ask that an extradition warrant be issued. This means that local law enforcement may come to the individual’s home to arrest them and hold them until Virginia law enforcement comes to bring them back to court.
Some of the important things that an attorney will tell clients before their court date is to make sure that they appear and make sure that they are appropriately dressed. They also emphasize the importance that they appear on time, conduct themselves respectfully in the court room, and make sure that they pay attention so that they follow the directions of their attorney throughout the process.
One of the best ways to prepare for a court date, is to attend court beforehand. This will give the individual an idea of what the court really looks like, how matters proceed, and how people act or dress in a court room.
Beyond that, consulting with a lawyer, making sure that all of the individual’s questions are answered, and understanding the possible outcomes in the case are the best ways to have some confidence about what is going to happen during and after the hearing. There is always some uncertainty that accompanies court. One of the most pressing concerns about the process is the uncertainty, but working with a lawyer can go a long way to relieving this uncertainty.
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