Loudoun County Criminal Lawyer
If you were charged with a criminal offense, you may be overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. In Loudoun County, all criminal charges are taken seriously. Criminal prosecutions are meant to keep the public safe, deter criminal activity, and punish those who step outside of legal societal norms.
As such, a mark on someone’s record may affect their personal, professional, and financial livelihood. Because of this, seeking the services of a Loudoun County criminal lawyer may prove beneficial. A skilled attorney could help to explain your legal options and work tirelessly to get the best possible outcome under the circumstances.
What Rights Do People Have Before and During an Arrest?
If someone is under investigation but has not yet been subject to a warrant of arrest, this means that law enforcement has been investigating the case and is using their resources to determine the extent of a person’s “criminal exposure”—this includes considering the nature of the possible charge and whether or not they can lock in certain pieces of evidence in order to either obtain a warrant from a magistrate or present a potential true bill to a grand jury.
During this time, a person has all the rights of any citizen, resident, or visitor. This means they can travel wherever they like and all of their regular freedoms afforded to them. Furthermore, they can refuse to cooperate with an investigation by contacting an attorney and exercising their rights against self-incrimination.
During an investigation, a person has the right to let an officer know that they do not wish to talk to them if they are contacted. They also have the right to refuse to supply potentially incriminating evidence—whether this means property or information—without a search warrant. Furthermore, if a person has any questions about their rights and legal options, they should consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to discuss the ensuing legal process in Loudoun County.
The Arrest Process
The actual arrest process in Loudoun County varies greatly depending on why, where, and how someone was arrested. Generally, however, a person will be taken through a demonstrative act and the law enforcement agency will then take physical custody of them.
Here, Miranda rights are available to a person once they are in custody or the custodial equivalent of a detention. These rights create an obligation for law enforcement to inform the person of certain statements—including the right to have counsel present, the right to remain silent, the knowledge that their statements may be used against them, and a right to trial. However, being arrested does not mean that the person is convicted of anything—it just means that they are accused of a criminal act.
Most arrests take place at the scene of the alleged crime. From there, the accused will be processed—this may happen at the Metro Washington Authority Police Station or, if they are arrested in the Town of Pureville, for example, they may be taken to that town’s police station. Eventually, however, they will be transported to the local adult detention center in most cases. Typically, this is done at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center for crimes committed within the county.
During processing, a person’s vital information will be taken and entered into local, state, and national databases for cross-referencing. This is to make sure that law enforcement has the right person. Then, they will be fingerprinted and have their photo taken. Depending on the offense for which they are arrested, they may be taken before the magistrate for an initial bond determination at this stage.
Common Misconceptions About Miranda Rights During Criminal Charges
There are many common misconceptions people have about their Miranda rights. For example, many people believe that these rights apply anytime a person talks to an officer of the law. Additional misconceptions include:
- A violation of Miranda rights means a case is automatically dismissed
- These rights apply in DUI traffic stops
- Officers will always read Miranda rights during an arrest
- Miranda rights automatically kick in when someone is being detained
The truth is, in many arrest scenarios, there is no need for Miranda rights. This is because the officers are not going to ask the arrested individual any relevant questions that might go against them. On the other hand, they might ask the person lots of questions before the arrest.
However, once they have made the decision to make an arrest, they do not need to ask any additional questions. This is often the case in drug investigations or traffic stops where drugs are found. Here, the officers may ask lots of questions that are used to gain incriminating information during the course of a traffic stop without implicating Miranda and its warnings. However, after the arrest decision is made, the officer does not need to ask any more questions. Because of the nuances of this process, anyone under investigation might benefit from speaking with a Loudoun County criminal attorney about your legal rights.
The Legal Process in Loudoun County After Being Charged
The way that a case starts in Loudoun County depends largely on what the person is charged with, as well as how they are charged. For example, if they are charged with a misdemeanor offense, this might be the result of an arrest from a warrant, or by being given a Virginia Uniform Summons. If someone is released on a summons for a misdemeanor offense—such as possession of marijuana, reckless driving, or driving without a license—their first court date would be approximately one month or six weeks from the date of the incident, depending on the officer’s calendar.
If they are arrested on a warrant, on the other hand, they may have a date sooner than those listed above. Either way, the first court date that a person has in a misdemeanor case will be an arraignment or an advisement. This is a date where a person must appear before the court so that it can be determined what the accused individual intends to do about their right to counsel.
In other words, the court must find out whether the individual intends to hire their own criminal defense lawyer or if they instead desire the court to appoint one based on their indigent status. During this time, they will not be required to be ready for trial, of course.
What are Indictments in Criminal Cases?
In Loudoun County, indictments for criminal cases include specific steps in which the case is presented to a circuit court grand jury. These juries have two functions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Essentially, they have an investigative function and, more commonly utilized, the ability to be presented potential felony charges and determine whether or not this bill is true.
The most common scenario is one where the court receives a presentation of an indictment from the commonwealth attorney’s office, along with either an officer or a civilian complainant. Then, the grand jury decides whether or not to issue a true bill—meaning a majority decision that the crime meets the elements of the alleged offense— or is not a true bill.
The rate of return for true bills in the Commonwealth of Virginia is extraordinarily high, sitting well above 95 percent. If the grand jury returns a true bill, then the person is instructed to appear at the grand jury return date—which is typically the next day—and have the indictment served upon them. Then, the case can be subject to further scheduling.
Indictments Before Arrests in Loudoun County
The circumstances in which someone is indicted prior to their arrest is often one where a lengthy or detailed investigation into the person’s conduct is ongoing and, while they are not likely a risk to the public by remaining at large, the police do not want to let them know they are the subject of an investigation. The most common offenses for which someone is indicted and then arrested are offenses that are either forensic or financial in nature, or ones that involve a lengthy investigation—such as cold cases.
If someone has been indicted before being arrested, they will first have the opportunity to appear at the grand jury return. At the grand jury return, they will be served with an indictment, and the judge may make an initial bond determination or may require that the person be held for a bond motion, depending on the nature of the charge.
If the person had no idea they were being indicted, there is a good chance that they will fail to appear at the indictment return date—because they have no notice of it. Then, the court orders a capias or a bench warrant, meaning local law enforcement would go to the person’s house, place of business, or whenever they can find them in order to serve that bench warrant. At that time, they would be arrested.
Even when a person is charged with a misdemeanor in Loudoun County, they should expect that the court will handle the case to the fullest extent of the law. Because of this, it is often in a person’s best interests to have an experienced and well-versed attorney in Loudoun County on their side to help them through the criminal defense process.
Some examples of frequent misdemeanors that are charged within district courts include, but are not limited to:
- Assault and battery of a family member
- Disorderly conduct
- Petty larcy—which is larceny of a value of under $500
- Possession of marijuana
- Reckless driving
- Driving under the influence
Felonies are the most serious types of offenses in Virginia, and they are handled very seriously. Therefore, if someone is charged with a felony offense in Loudoun County, they should know that the stakes are raised. Felony offenses are punishable by time in prison and, potentially, time in jail—depending on the nature of the offense. Common examples of felony offenses include:
- Grand larceny
- Breaking and entering
- DUI—for a third or subsequent offense
- Unlawful wounding or violent assault
- Sexual offenses
- Drug offenses
- Attempted homicide offenses
What Does it Mean to be Charged with an Attempt or Conspiracy to Commit a Crime?
To be charged with attempting to commit a crime means that a person has met all the elements of the offense—except for the completed act. There are a variety of scenarios in which someone may be charged with this offense. Furthermore, a person could be charged with conspiracy to commit a serious crime, as well. This means that there was an agreement, either expressed or implied, among persons to commit a crime, followed by acts in furtherance of that agreement.
Attempts and conspiracy charges are often considered in the same vein as the act in question but are not taken as seriously as completed acts. In certain circumstances, someone is charged with one offense and may be subsequently charged with conspiracy and an attempt to commit another, more serious offense. This may lead to implications on the person’s potential criminal exposure, including potential exposure to more jail time, increased charges, and other penalties of that nature.
Mistakes to Avoid When Facing Criminal Charges in Loudoun County
After someone has been told that they are being placed under arrest, many individuals think that they can talk their way out of it. However, it is always in a person’s best interests to remain silent and not offer additional information that might be used in their prosecution.
Another mistake some people facing criminal charges make is to fail to take the charges seriously or to believe they can handle the charges alone. However, there is a complex legal process involved in each step of the criminal prosecution proceedings. Because of this, anyone charged should consider hiring a Loudoun County criminal lawyer for help. In fact, there is an old saying that even an experienced attorney would get a lawyer involved to represent their rights.
How a Loudoun County Criminal Attorney Could Help
Because of the nuances of handling in a minor criminal offense, contacting a Loudoun County criminal lawyer may prove beneficial. However, after an arrest or charge, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed.
By working with a well-versed attorney, you could have help assessing your legal circumstances and decide what options are available to you. To learn more about how a legal professional may help, call today.
By: A. Client
Patrick Woolley represented me in a legal matter in Virginia. I was very pleased with his services. He was very knowledgeable and easy to reach, and kept me updated with the elements of my case. This legal matter ended favorably for me, and I have Patrick Woolley to thank. I would recommend him to people who need a Criminal Defense Attorney.