When the police arrest you on a warrant or summons you will be taken before a Magistrate for a Bond Hearing and to determine if you are the one who is being charged and if there is enough evidence to find probable cause to hold/arrest you.
You will appear before a Judge and that Judge will advise you of what you are charged with and advise you to your right to an attorney. After that your Court Date and if you did not receive Bond from the Magistrate a Bond hearing will be set.
You and your lawyer will appear before the Judge and ask that a fair bail is set so that you may be out on Bond prior to your trial. It must be shown that you will appear in court, you will not continue to commit crimes and you are not a danger to society.
Your attorney will work with the prosecutor, if the evidence is clearly not in your favor, to reach an agreement. In a Plea agreement, you may get charges dismissed, reduced or they may stay the same and there could be an agreement to sentencing.
A Preliminary hearing is not a trial. The state only has to prove that is more likely than not that you committed the crime. You can waive this hearing or have a full hearing. If it determined there is probable cause the case will go to the Grand Jury and then Circuit Court for the trial. If it is not proven the charge will be dismissed.
At trial, both sides will have the opportunity to put on witnesses. It may be a trial by a judge or you may choose a trial by a Jury. Once all the evidence is heard then the judge/jury will determine guilt or innocence. The state must prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt – not all doubt. If you are found guilty you will have a sentencing date set by the court. However, if it is a Jury Trial then there will be a sentencing hearing the day of the trial and the Jury will make a recommendation to the court as to what sentence you should receive.
If your trial results in a guilty verdict then a “Pre-sentence Report” (PSR) will be ordered by the Judge. The PSR will include your history, family history, and everything else about you and the criminal acts you were found guilty of, including “guidelines” which recommend a sentence to the Judge. On the day of sentencing, the Judge will determine your sentence, based on the PSR and witness testimony.
You have a right to appeal any guilty finding or sentence to the Virginia Court of Appeals. If the Virginia Court of Appeals does not hear your appeal or does not find in your favor then you can appeal the Virginia Supreme Court. The state does not have the right to appeal in Virginia.
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