Fairfax County Traffic Court vs. Arlington County Traffic Court
There are over 30 judicial districts in Virginia, which means over 30 different ways of doing things. Fairfax County Traffic Court and Arlington County Traffic Court are but just two jurisdictions; they are important jurisdictions, however.
Virginia statutes (the laws) apply across the board, of course. But did you know that each local court system operates in (sometimes) slightly different ways? Sometimes the differences are non-existent or slight; but when it comes to others, one court may enforce a requirement, or acknowledge some procedure, while the same is not enforced nor acknowledged in a neighboring jurisdiction. Defense attorneys (and all lawyers) must be aware of the local rules where they practice.
Northern Virginia Criminal Lawyer:
“Fairfax County Traffic Court” is where I am most mornings
Our Northern Virginia criminal defense law firm handles many types of cases, ranging from traffic infractions to misdemeanors, to serious felony crimes. But the most frequently handled type of case correlates with the most frequently charged offenses in Virginia: matters involving motor vehicles.
Sometimes traffic matters are infractions, but nonetheless, are very serious because an accident and/or injuries are involved.
For example, if you are the recipient of a minor traffic ticket, but you caused an accident and the other driver or passenger(s) were injured, then a civil lawsuit may be around the corner.
Make sure you take the criminal or traffic matter seriously and hire a local Virginia criminal lawyer who has traffic and criminal defense experience in your local jurisdiction. A Virginia or local Fairfax traffic attorney who is knowledgeable of the local jurisdiction’s rules is very important.
Other times, the traffic-related matter may not be an infraction at all, but rather a criminal offense. Reckless driving is one of the most frequently charged traffic-related criminal offenses; driving without a valid operator’s license is also a common misdemeanor offense. Our Fairfax DWI lawyer and reckless driving attorney has already published lengthy guides to help readers navigate Fairfax County Traffic Court (which is really called Fairfax County General District Court).
On this page, we look at one big way in which the Fairfax County Traffic Court differs from another nearby traffic court. Over time, more comparisons will be added. For now, we discuss Arlington County and Fairfax County traffic courts.
Fairfax County Traffic Court vs. Arlington County Traffic Court
Biggest Difference: how prosecutors and defendants interact.
Fairfax County General District Court serves the most populated county in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Arlington County is much smaller, and as a result, the way these two courts operate differs. Just as a very large company likely carries out a certain function in a completely different way as compared to a small company, courts are no different.
While this page will be updated from time to time to include new important comparisons, the biggest difference in my opinion, is the way prosecutors and defendants interact (or in the case of Fairfax County Traffic Court, the way they do not interact).
To explain this critical point, I explain what a traffic defendant’s experience is like at each court. Then, I wrap things up by explaining the implications of this difference.
Arlington County General District (Traffic) Court
If you are a defendant, you will arrive to the courthouse and find your assigned courtroom. At the appropriate time (at the direction of the judge), you will make your way to the hallway to stand in a line. This line leads to a room where police officers and a prosecutor are gathered. You will talk to the prosecutor with the police officer by his or her side who wrote you the ticket. If the prosecutor sees that your record is not terrible, he or she may offer you a deal. It may be a deal requiring you to complete some program or class, surrender your license, pay a fine, come back to court another day, or a number of other things.
If you accept the deal, you enter it with the court and as long as the judge does not disapprove, you will be on your way. It still is important to hire an attorney for cases before the Arlington County General District Court, because attorneys are in the best position to point out the legal weaknesses of a prosecutor’s case, thus resulting in a better deal in many circumstances. Other reasons to hire a local Arlington traffic lawyer include: preventing DMV demerit points from accumulating; defending a case with an eye towards future litigation and to protect against future lawsuits; to avoid thousand dollar fines; to take a case to trial and have the best chance at winning.
Fairfax County Traffic Court
If you are required (or if you choose) to appear at the Fairfax County General District Court for your traffic matter, you will make your way though the doors and around the hall’s bend to the first floor courtrooms. If you do not have a lawyer, you will sit down in the courtroom with about 100-200 other people and wait for your name to be called. Once your name is called, you will be asked to make a plea. If you plead guilty, you may be given the chance to offer an explanation. This will not allow you to get off of your charge, but if you have a very good reason and the judge agrees, he or she may sentence you accordingly. If you plead not guilty, it will be your word against the officer’s word, and there will be a trial. If you do have an attorney, then the judge will not call your name, and you will be called before the judge only after your lawyer has reached a deal, and you have accepted that deal.
Why does this difference matter?
The difference I just described between Fairfax County traffic court and Arlington County traffic court is important, at least to the extent that a person is considering fighting their ticket alone. In Arlington County, Virginia, the defendant is in a better position without lawyer. Still, as mentioned, an Arlington traffic attorney is recommended to handle the case.
In Fairfax County, police and Commonwealth’s attorneys do not negotiate with defendants to try and reach a deal. The reason may be due to the large number of people who are required to attend a hearing each business day. Negotiation requires a local Fairfax traffic attorney or Fairfax criminal lawyer.
The bottom line is that no matter where your case is to be heard, you will benefit greatly from hiring a Virginia defense attorney. There are all sorts of reasons to hire a local Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, or Prince William traffic lawyer (or a traffic lawyer in your jurisdiction, Abingdon.
We serve most Northern Virginia jurisdictions, so do not hesitate to request a free consultation by calling 703.665.3719 or using our form located here to leave a message for our Northern Virginia Criminal Lawyer.
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