Chances are you’ve landed on this page because you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor in Arlington County, Virginia. While this might be a scary time for you, please rest assured, you have options. Here is the process of cases in Arlington County so you know what to expect from beginning to end. The courthouse is located on 1325 N. Courthouse Rd., Arlington, Virginia. The Court is comprised of a General District Court and the Higher Circuit Court. Most criminal cases start in the General District Court. There are circumstances when your case could end up in Circuit Court.


            If you are provided with a summons, chances are you have received a notice to come back to court in the General District Court. The First Court Date is predicated on making sure you know your rights. It is called an Advisement or Arraignment. The Court will then provide you with a Trial date, Preliminary Hearing or further Status (if you need more time to hire an attorney or other impediment to beginning the case).


            The court also will advise if you don’t have an attorney, the court will appoint an attorney for you. This attorney will either be from the Arlington County Public Defender Service or a Private Attorney with offices in Arlington County, Virginia approved by the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission. Either way, you initially won’t have to pay unless your found guilty.


            If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you will have the ability to schedule a trial date at your arraignment. Virginia cases move extremely quickly so make sure you hire counsel immediately or contact your court appointed lawyer. Your date will likely be determined by the arresting Officer’s next available date. 


            For misdemeanors, there are no jury trials in the General District Court. Therefore, your General District Court case will be before a judge.


            Don’t fret. If you lose in the General District Court, you have an automatic right to a new trial in the Circuit Court. You will also be entitled to a 7- person Jury. That would be scheduled at what is called a Term Day.


            You can also elect to be sentenced by a jury immediately after your trial. This is important to note because prior to July 2021, you had no choice but for the emotionally charged jury to sentence you. And get this, they cannot even consider the sentencing guidelines! This previous led to some unpredictable results. This also led to more pleas prior to a trial on a violent crime.


            If you win your trial or your case is otherwise dismissed, great! The court will simply discharge you from any court obligations and send you on your eighth amendment way! Congrats! You defeated the system! Now write a review for that lovely lawyer of yours. Or you can send him/her/them flowers. If you retained the attorney, send a tip j/k. 


            But if your case is nolle prossequi, then the Commonwealth may be able to bring your case back. Consult an attorney on this issue as it is complicated.


            If you are found guilty by jury, the jury will recommend a sentence to the judge, it can only go down but rarely does. The judge will order a pre-sentence investigation, your attorney will file a sentencing memorandum, both of which will then aid the court in determining your final sentence. Once you receive your final sentence, you will have to start your punishment whether it be jail time, probation or a combination of both.


            A. Clarke Law is an award winning Law Firm with offices in National Harbor, MD and Arlington County, Virginia. Our trial teams provide services in Federal Criminal Defense, White Collar Defense, Family Law and Complexed Commercial Litigation throughout the DMV Area. Speak to one of our knowledgeable attorneys to get a deeper knowledge of the legal process in Arlington County, Virginia.