1. Do I need to attend my court date?

Yes. Always plan on attending your court hearings unless your attorney tells you otherwise.

2. I live outside of Virginia – do I need to attend my court date?

Your attorney may be able to have your appearance waived, but it is important to give at least two weeks’ notice to your attorney if your attendance at court will be an issue.

3. My first court date is a month or longer from now, but I want to meet with my attorney to discuss my case. Is this possible?

It is possible, but depends on the jurisdiction in which you received your criminal or traffic ticket. Meeting with your attorney prior to your first court date is similar to setting up a meeting with your doctor before your first doctor’s appointment. In Fairfax misdemeanor cases, your first court date serves as an “information gathering” session between your attorney and the prosecutor – your time standing before the judge will only last a few minutes and your attorney will be standing by your side doing the talking.

4. Is it normal not to hear from my attorney in several weeks?

The evidence-collecting process is lengthy and typically requires several weeks. We begin working on your case as soon as we’re retained, but much of the process is a waiting period. It is important to stay calm and understand that we will notify you as soon as we have updates. The process for evidence collecting varies across each jurisdiction in Virginia, so you must consult with your attorney.

5. What method of contact does my attorney prefer?

Each criminal lawyer has different communication preferences. We prefer e-mails or phone calls over text messaging. If your call is not answered, we kindly ask you to leave a voicemail.

6. I’m anxious about my first court date. What should I expect?

It depends on the jurisdiction where you received your charge. In Fairfax, for example, your first court date for a misdemeanor is for “discovery” purposes. You will not be going to trial (unless told otherwise). Your attorney will sit down with the prosecutor and officer and obtain all related documents in your case. Many of the Fairfax DUI cases that our attorneys handle also have DVD footage.

7. What should I wear to court?

Business casual or a suit is fine – dress as though you’re attending a job interview. We suggest you do not wear flip flops or sandals.

8. Will I have to talk to the judge at my court hearing?

You will stand at the podium with your attorney next to you. It is unlikely that you will have to address the court, as your attorney does the talking for you. However, you must confirm this information with your attorney.

9. Is it okay to post about my case on social media? Can I talk about my case with others?

Our Virginia criminal lawyers strongly advise you not to post any information regarding your case online. We also advise you not to speak with anyone about your case.

10. Someone I know was charged with _______ but their attorney had it amended to _______. Will this happen for me too?

Each case is different with its own set of facts. Your case cannot be compared to any other case.

11. My criminal lawyer told me there is a video of my arrest - will I get to watch it?

Yes. If there is video in your case, we will obtain a copy and set up a meeting for you to come in to our office to view it a few days before your next court date. It is likely that the video and/or audio will be turned over to your attorney at you first court date (after your arraignment).

12. I won’t be able to attend my current court date – can criminal lawyer change the date?

Possibly. A first-time continuance request is usually granted by the court, depending on the jurisdiction. We will file a continuance motion and receive a new court date at the motion date. Your attorney attends the motion for you – you do not need to attend.

13. My attorney told me I need “character letters” or “letters of recommendation.” What does this mean? How many letters do I need? When do I need to have them in?

If we have not told you to obtain these letters, you do not need to obtain them. We do not provide a template for these letters. Each letter can be anywhere from one to three pages. Please have the author address the letter “To Whom it May Concern.” Our clients typically send us one to six letters. We recommend asking previous employers, current employers, teachers, co-workers, and long-time family friends to write these letters for you.

14. My attorney told me I need to get started on community service hours. Does it matter where I complete these hours? How many hours do I need to complete?

You will need to complete the hours within the jurisdiction in which you were charged. For example, if you were charged with larceny in Fairfax County and have been advised to volunteer, you will need to complete your hours within Fairfax County. There are several organizations in Virginia offering community service opportunities. We recommend Googling “where can I do community service in _____, Virginia?” Your attorney will let you know how many hours are needed for your specific case.

15. When I was arrested for DUI/DWI, the officer took my license. How/when will I get it back?

If you’re charged with a first offense, your driving privileges are revoked for 7 days from your arrest date. If you’re charged with a second offense, your driving privileges are revoked for 60 days or until your court date (whichever comes first). If you’re charged with a third offense, your driving privileges are revoked until your trial date. If you’re unsure whether your license will be mailed to you or if you will be required to pick it up at the courthouse, you will need to contact the clerk’s office within the jurisdiction you received your charge.

16. My attorney advised me to sign up for VASAP classes – how do I do this? Can I take the classes online?

Please visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/admin/asap.htm for information on the VASAP program in Fairfax. You will need to complete this program in person. If your attorney did not advise you to sign up ahead of time, you do not need to sign up.

17. My arraignment and/or attorney review hearing have been waived – do I need to meet with my attorney before my discovery hearing in Fairfax?

No. The purpose of your discovery hearing is for evidence gathering. Your case will not be finalized at this hearing. Schedule a meeting with your attorney after your discovery date. This way, your attorney will have information (video footage, police report, etc.) from the prosecutor, which will make for a much more productive meeting. Your attorney won’t know the facts of your case until he has this information. Meeting with your attorney prior to your discovery date is the equivalent of meeting with your doctor prior to your doctor’s appointment.

18. How long will my DUI hearing in Fairfax take?

DWI/DUI hearings in Fairfax are at 9:30 am. You should expect to be out of court between 12:00pm and 1:00 pm. We can never guarantee when you will be out of court, as we don’t know in advance how long the docket (number of cases) is in your specific courtroom.

19. Do I need to arrive early to my DUI court hearing in Fairfax?

No. Your case will not be called prior to 9:30 am.

20. Am I allowed to bring my cell phone inside the Fairfax courthouse? Inside my courtroom?

Yes. You may bring your phone inside the courthouse and courtroom. Please put your phone on silent, but periodically check it in case your attorney contacts you.

21. Where do I park at the Fairfax courthouse?

There is a garage with ample parking.

22. How do I locate my courtroom in Fairfax?

Once you go through security, walk past the escalators/elevators until you see monitors up on the wall. Locate your name and respective courtroom. Or, you can refer to page 7 of this document to navigate the online system (although courtrooms are not always posted online). DWI and DUI cases in Fairfax are on either the 1st or 2nd floor of the courthouse.

23. Do I need to contact my attorney once I’ve arrived at the courthouse/courtroom in Fairfax?

No. Your attorney will locate your courtroom and find you.

24. Will I be required to speak at my hearing in Fairfax?

You will not be required to speak unless your attorney tells you beforehand.

25. At my discovery hearing in Fairfax, my attorney received a video – will I get to watch it?

Yes. If there is video in your case, we will obtain a copy and set up a meeting for you to come in to our office to view it a few days before your next court date. It is likely that the video and/or audio will be turned over to your attorney at you first court date (after your arraignment).