Virginia DUI Courts
Virginia DUI courts can be harsh on charges. If a person is from out-of-state, the best action for them to take is to hire an attorney to represent them for a DUI. Most judges are understanding that coming back to Virginia for a trial date is an inconvenience and if the court date is close to the date a person was arrested, most courts would understand that people cannot travel at a moment’s notice. Most of the time, a court will allow for a person’s lawyer to move the date to another time further down the line to give that person time to plan for the trip back to Virginia. If you are facing DUI charges and have questions about the courts, contact an experienced Virginia DUI lawyer today.
Consequences of Missing Court Date For Those Out-of-State
If a person is out-of-state, to the court will issue a bench warrant for that person’s arrest unless their lawyer can provide a valid reason as to why the person was not there. A valid reason does not include missing a flight or failing to secure travel or being generally unable to come. A valid reason does include a hospitalization, a death in the family, or something that is significant and severe. If that bench warrant is issued and the individual fails to return to Virginia to turn themselves in, the court may not come for that person right away or even at all. However, if that person is ever pulled over or if they encounter law enforcement in any way, they are going to come up as a person who is wanted and they will arrest that person out-of-state. If a person gets arrested out-of-state on a warrant in Virginia, that person has got a whole different set of problems to deal with.
General District Court
General District Court has final jurisdiction of all misdemeanors, which includes almost every DUI. They also conduct preliminary hearings of felony DUIs. They treat DUI charges very seriously in the Virginia court. Judges are very strict on DUIs and while they are certainly aware of the problems that DUIs face, they also are bound by the Constitution and by the laws of Virginia to ensure that the conviction is fairly and correctly attained. General District Court judges are chosen by the Virginia Legislature and they are elected by the legislature to six-year terms, which is different from some other states.
Circuit court will hear all misdemeanor appeals and all felony trials. If a person has a trial for their misdemeanor in General District Court and the judge finds that person guilty, they have an automatic right to appeal that case to the circuit court to let another court have a look at that person’s case. Generally speaking, very few people appeal from the General District Court, but when they do, those cases are heard in circuit court. If a person is charged with a felony DUI, then the General District Court lacks the jurisdiction to hold a trial and will certify the case to the circuit court after a preliminary hearing if the General District Court finds there is probable cause. Once that case is certified to the circuit court, then the circuit court will schedule that person’s case for trial.
All judges treat DUI charges the same, which is with a great amount of concern and care. They want to make sure that the government proves their case beyond a reasonable doubt and they want to make sure that all constitutional protections are upheld and all statutes are met. If the government proves their case, they will find that person guilty and they will sentence that person accordingly. Virginia DUI courts are serious.
Practices of Circuit Court Judges
Circuit court judges are chosen by the Virginia Legislature as opposed to the general public. Many of the judges who sit in circuit court were judges in General District Court or in Juvenile Domestic Relations District Court. Those who come straight out of practice generally come from successful practices. Usually, circuit court judges have dealt with some high-level cases and have taken some cases to the appellate courts in Virginia, such as the Court of Appeals or the Virginia Supreme Court. Circuit court judges are highly qualified and highly respected members of the legal community before they take the bench. For more information on Virginia DUI courts, contact a competent lawyer.