Below, a Richmond criminal lawyer answers a series of questions about court proceedings in Richmond. If you are facing criminal charges, it is always in your best interests to contact an attorney as early on in the process as possible. Call our law offices for a free consultation of your case.
After charges are filed, you may be released on bond whether that’s secured or a PR bond. If there is no bond, then you’ll be taken before a judge for an arraignment and a possible bond hearing. At that time a judge will advise you of what you’re charged with, advice you of the possibility of jail and also advise you of your right to an attorney, whether that’d be court-appointed counsel or your own counsel.
At that point in time, you’ll be given a trial date where you’re to appear with your attorney and with any evidence you have and/or with witnesses you wish to subpoena. But that’s the initial process after the charges have been filed is that kind of that process of getting you arraigned, getting a bond set, getting a trial date set.
In Richmond, a Grand jury determines if there’s probable cause for a felony charge to be certified to circuit court. If there is a felony charge filed, it goes to general district court for a preliminary hearing. At that point in time, the prosecution must show the court probable cause exists for the charge and then it could certify that to the grand jury. The grand jury will hear an overview of the evidence, they may hear from one or two of the officers or witnesses and at that point in time they will make a further determination of probable cause to certify that to circuit court for trial in front of the bench or a jury.
What prosecutors can also do is they can bypass the general district court preliminary hearing and move for what’s called a direct indictment. With a direct indictment, the commonwealth will make a presentation of probable cause directly to the grand jury and if a true bill is entered bring the case directly to Circuit Court.
The probable cause standard is rather low so it is rather easy to get a charge certified. Again, it’s not guilt or innocence, it’s just is there a probable cause to charge the individual with the felony offense.
What’s unique about Richmond is that is can be a very tough jurisdiction, both the prosecutors and the judges in Richmond can be very tough in trying and sentencing cases. However, if you can present strong legal issues and mitigating factors can be shown, the Prosecutors will be open to negotiation. So while it can be tough jurisdiction, if you have a strong legal defense you can typically achieve a positive outcome.
The courts also consider substance abuse issues and substance abuse counseling and treatment as options such as the drug court and/or, you know, treatment facilities versus jail and drug offenses.
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