Process of a Henrico County Criminal Case

Charged with a criminal offense in Henrico County? Here is what you can expect from the process of your case according to a Henrico County criminal defense attorney. To learn more call and schedule a consultation today.

Step 1: The Arrest

If you’re arrested in Henrico County, you’ll be taken to the Henrico County Sheriff’s office for processing which is located in the Government Complex.  At this location you will be taken before a magistrate where the officer will testify or give a statement as to what brought you to their attention or why they’re charging you.

From there, the magistrate will determine the charge and determine if there is probable cause to charge you. In addition to that, the magistrate will determine at that point in time if you receive bond or bond is to be withheld.  If bond is withheld, what will then happen is you’ll be taken over to the jail, and then usually the following morning or the next time court’s in session, you’ll be taken before a judge for an arraignment.

Step 2: Arraignment

An arraignment in Henrico is where the judge advises you of what you’re charged with, advises you of some of the potential penalties involved and more importantly, the judge advises you of your right to an attorney, your right to request court-appointed counsel or your right to waive court-appointed counsel and obtain your own lawyer.  What the judge will offer to do at the arraignment is to make a finding on bond, and they will also set your case for trial.

When Can I Contact a Lawyer?

Typically, the first opportunity you’d be given to contact a lawyer is after you are brought before the magistrate.  You’ll typically have an opportunity to make phone calls at that point or after your arraignment and/or release. Usually we recommend that the first thing you should do is contact a lawyer.

Step 3: After Charges Are Filed

After charges are filed to the magistrate, you may be released on a bond, whether it’s unsecured or a PR bond, which basically means you decide to appear in court.  If there is no bond, then you’ll be taken to jail and held there until you can go before a judge for arraignment and a possible bond hearing.  At that point in time, the judge will advise you again of the charge and advise you of your right to an attorney.

A court date will be set, and then if you advise the court that you wish to retain counsel, they may also set what’s called an attorney status hearing.  That’s an initial hearing where they determine who your attorney is going to be and what the official trial date will be.  At that point in time, the real process starts for you to interview attorneys, retain your counsel and prepare for trial.

What To Expect From Misdemeanor Charges

If you‘re charged with a misdemeanor in Henrico County, the process moves very quickly.  Typically from the day you’re charged your matter will usually be finalized within 60 to 90 days. All misdemeanor matters are done in the general district court.

What To Expect From Felony Charges

With a felony charge, it differs from a misdemeanor in several ways. A felony charge typically takes usually around six months to finalize. A felony charge also is a multi-step process. The first part of a felony charge is a preliminary hearing which is done in general district court, which is only to determine if there’s probable cause for the charge.

Next your matter will then go before a grand jury to determine again if there’s probable cause, and if there’s what’s called a true bill. A true bill is where the grand jury agrees there is probable cause and sends it up to circuit court. Once your felony charge gets to circuit court it is then tried for guilt or innocence in front of a judge or jury. This differs from a misdemeanor charge in that with a felony you can chose whether you want to have your matter tried before a bench or a jury.

Step 4: Your First Court Date

The first court date in Henrico will often depend on what type of charge it is. Many times your first appearance before a court will be your arraignment. That’s where a judge advises you of what you’re charged with and advises you of your right to an attorney.