If you’ve been arrested for felony sex crimes in Virginia, you’re no doubt aware that these charges are serious and carry extremely harsh penalties for a conviction. However, even when your outlook seems grim, you must always remember the most critical principle in criminal law: You’re innocent until proven guilty and you do get your day in court. There are many stages of any criminal case, with multiple opportunities to defend your interests along the way. You can rely on your Virginia felony sex crimes defense attorney for legal support and assistance throughout the process, but the timeline of the proceedings can provide some insight.
Your Arraignment: Your first court appearance in a criminal case is likely to be your arraignment, where you go before the judge to hear the official charges. This is not your trial and you should not make any statements, other than answering the questions posed by the judge. Importantly, this is the proceeding which determines whether you will be held in custody or be released under Virginia’s statute on bail and recognizances. For felony sex crimes, it’s possible that you will remain in jail until your trial. However, your chances of being released on bond increase if you have an attorney to represent you and argue in your favor.
Depositions and Discovery: Your arraignment kicks off the pretrial process, including discovery – a process by which you gain access to evidence, witness names, documents, and other information that the prosecutor may use at trial. Your lawyer will issue discovery requests, including the deposition of witnesses, to gather details and support the strategy for your defense.
Ongoing Court Appearances and Motions: Throughout the pretrial process, there may be opportunities for either side to request the court to take a certain action. These court proceedings are called motions. Your criminal defense attorney may file motions to:
- Compel the prosecutor to turn over evidence;
- Suppress evidence against you that was unlawfully obtained by police; or,
- Dismiss the charges, because the prosecutor doesn’t have sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Your Trial Date: Assuming your case wasn’t dismissed during pretrial phases, the final stage of the criminal trial process is the trial itself. Both sides will present opening arguments, and then the prosecution will present all of the evidence and witness testimony that supports a conviction for felony sex crimes. Your defense attorney will have the chance to cross-examine. Once the prosecutor rests, it’s your turn to present all facts and evidence that either:
- Supports a defense that you’ve claimed; OR,
- Attacks weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.
At the conclusion of the trial, the judge or jury will make a determination on whether you’re guilty or not guilty. If convicted, the judge will also determine your sentence.
Trust Your Defense to a Virginia Felony Sex Crimes Lawyer
No matter where you are on this timeline of a felony sex crimes case, retaining solid legal representation is essential. You face serious criminal penalties if convicted, including the requirement to register as a sex offender. To schedule a consultation with a skilled attorney, please contact Leary Law at our offices in Manassas or Fairfax, VA.