Frequently Asked Questions -
following are answers to frequently asked questions. The
information is not legal advice. The questions are arranged according
to subject matter, and provided for your general information. If you
would like to submit a general question, please feel free to do
so by selecting ask a question. Any answer will be added to the
appropriate category. If you would like to contact us regarding
a specific legal matter, please call 1-757-595-8100, send an e-mail
or use one of our
convenient contact forms. Have a great day.
I get a written fee agreement with my lawyer?
avoid any misunderstanding, always get a written fee agreement that specifies
the fee structure, the terms of service, the scope of
representation, and your financial obligations.
I discuss my case with family, friends and the newspaper?
not talk to anyone except your lawyer.
Do not make any verbal or written statements to anyone,
including the police, regarding any aspect of your case. Anything you
say may be used against you in court. Anything you say can have a
significant impact on your case. One indiscreet word can result in
your conviction. One misplaced confidence can result in your
incarceration. Do not talk
to reporters of news agencies. Any press releases must be done
through our office.
are the steps in a criminal case?
typical steps for most criminal cases include the pre-arrest
investigation by the police; the issuance of a summons, warrant or
indictment; the formal arrest and booking process; the appearance
before a magistrate and the setting of a bond; the initial appearance
before a district judge and determining if the accused will have an
attorney; a preliminary hearings in felony cases when an arrest is by
a warrant; review of indictments by a grand jury in felony cases; the
scheduling of the trial; pretrial motions; arraignment and plea; the
trial; a sentencing
hearing if found guilty; and thereafter the appeal process.
is a felony and a misdemeanor?
is a criminal law that provides for incarceration greater than
one year and the payment of fines. Capital felonies can result in
execution. In Virginia, felonies are classified by the amount of
possible punishment. A misdemeanor
is a criminal law that provides for possible incarceration of up to
one year and the payment of fines. In Virginia, there are four
classes of misdemeanors with varying degrees of punishment.
is a criminal trial?
are judicial proceedings conducted in a court and designed to reach a
decision based upon the facts, common sense, reason and applicable
law. The conduct of a trial is governed by numerous rules,
presumptions, and procedures designed to promote fairness and
justice. Criminal trials involve allegations of a violation of
criminal law. These matters involve the determination of the guilt or
innocence of an accused and the imposition of punishment. The process
usually begins with the institution of a warrant or indictment
against an accused.
are rules of evidence?
rules of evidence control what evidence is material, relevant, and
admissible in court. For example, the hearsay rule generally
prohibits statements by individuals who are not in court.
In addition, certain constitutional requirements may also
determine if certain evidence may be use or if it is to be excluded
from a trial. Application of these rules is within the sound
discretion of the trial judge. The trier of fact, judge or jury in a
jury trial, decides the meaning and relative importance of the
is the presumption of innocence?
being charged with a criminal offense, a defendant
is presumed to be innocent. The
prosecuting authorities have the burden to prove guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt. An accused is entitled to this presumption at all stages
of their case. Generally, if the trier of fact believes the evidence
against an accused is sufficient to prove guilt, the prosecuting
authority will have overcome the presumption of innocence.
is a reasonable doubt?
reasonable doubt is a
doubt based on the judge's or juries sound judgment after a full and
impartial consideration of all the evidence of the case. As such, the
"reasonable doubt" standard is subjective, ambiguous, and
interpretive. It is not an objective standard, and creates
uncertainty regarding the outcome of criminal cases.
is a guilty plea?
plea is an admission that you committed the alleged offense.
The effect of a guilty plea admits all the criminal facts alleged and
waives your right to defend yourself.
No additional facts are needed to reach a verdict.
A plea of guilty waives all but jurisdictional objections,
impermissible sentence objections, and the objection that no offense
is charged. It entirely relieves the prosecution of the burden of
proving any facts. If an accused pleads guilty to a felony, they are waiving
to an appeal except on jurisdictional grounds or the imposition of an
I get a plea agreement?
plea agreement or plea bargain is an agreement with the prosecuting
authority regarding a case. An accused may or may not have the option of
entering a plea agreement with the prosecuting authorities. The
prosecutor may not want to enter a plea agreement. There are
different types of plea agreements. The most common is a plea
agreement for a particular
sentence. In this
situation, the judge may
accept, reject, or defer its decision until a persistence report. The
agreement would not bind a defendant if rejected and they could withdraw
guilty plea. Another judge may then conduct the trial. Other types
of plea agreements include the prosecuting authority’s recommendation
and an agreement not to oppose your request for a particular sentence.
These types of plea agreements are not binding on the court, and a
cannot withdraw their guilty plea. The court could impose a more
makes the decision regarding a plea agreement?
value of entering a plea agreement is dependent upon the particular
facts, merits and circumstances of a case and the risk an accused is
willing to assume. The final decision to enter a proposed plea
agreement belongs to a defendant. Before entering any proposed plea agreement,
an accused should be satisfied that it is in their immediate and long-term
I get a jury trial?
I call witnesses in my behalf?
accused has a right to call witnesses and to present evidence in their
behalf. Witnesses would be subject to questioning
(cross-examination) by the prosecution. The judge or jury decides
whether to believe a witness. The judge or jury can accept or reject
the testimony of any witness, in whole or in part, when considered
with other evidence. An accused
has a right to compel the attendance of witnesses to court by a subpoena. An accused should provide the witnesses' name addresses,
telephone numbers, a written summary of their testimony, and whether
you believe, they will be a favorable or unfavorable witnesse. You
should always timely subpoena any witness. If you do not subpoena
a witness, and they do not appear on the trial date, the judge may
require you to proceed, even though the witness is not present. If
you subpoena the witness, and they are served, and the witness
does not appear, then there is a greater chance that the judge
will continue the case. Always make sure that you give the names,
addresses, and telephone number of any witness to your attorney in
sufficient time to subpoena all necessary witnesses.
accused has the right to testify but
is not required to do so. This is his or her decision. If an accused
does testify, he or she waives the privilege of not giving
evidence against themselves. An
will be subject to all the rules of cross-examination as any
other witness. An accused may not testify just to events and circumstances that
merely supports his or her defense, and selectively suppress other relevant
facts and matters that incriminates them. The trier of fact can view testimony in a positive or negative manner,
and may believe or
disbelieve what is said. The judge or jury will have the opportunity to listen to
what is said, observe the witnesses demeanor, and then decide the significance
of the testimony, within the context of
all the evidence An accuse
should consider the pros and cons of
testifying. His or her testimony could affect a finding of guilt,
innocence, or your sentence.
there other consequences that I should consider
If you are found guilty, including pleading guilty, there can be
significant consequences beyond your immediate case. This can include
important past, present, or future matters .
Such matters may include without limitation civil matters, domestic
matters, military matters, employment matters, prior criminal or
traffic matters, immigration matters, and other rights and privileges
citizenship. Importantly, prior
criminal sentences could be revoked.
an attorney guarantee that he or she will get me off ?
no. There are no guarantees in most human activities, and
regretfully this is true of the criminal justice. Despite
elaborate rules and procedures designed to promote accuracy and
reliability, the judicial process is not perfect and is subject to
the same limitations intrinsic in all human activities.
facts presented at trial may differ with one’s expectations;
witnesses may lie; honest witnesses may not be believed; or judges
or juries may have differing views regarding the law or evidence.
Consequently, there is always an element of risk going to court,
and guaranteed outcomes are generally impossible.
your rights, liberty, freedom, and good name with sound legal
advice from a qualified criminal defense attorney. Just call (757)
595-8100, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or use our secure contact form below. Free
Larry King is
a former state prosecutor and has extensive experience
representing those accused of a crime. He has over to
twenty-five years of criminal defense experience. He has
represented thousands of people for all types of serious
criminal offenses and traffic matters. He urges everyone to obey
the law and to respect law enforcement officers. He knows
however that anyone can be wrongly accused of a crime. He
understands his important role in protecting his client’s
rights and liberty. Mr. King earned his Juris Doctor law
degree from the College of William and Mary in 1974. He is a
member of the Virginia State Bar and is admitted to practice in
state and federal Courts. This includes all Virginia State
Courts, the Supreme Court of the United States, the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, and
the United States Court of Claims. He is a member of the
American Trial Lawyers Association, the Virginia Trial Lawyers
Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense
Lawyers, the Virginia College of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the
Newport News Bar Association, the Williamsburg-James City County
Bar Association, and the York-Poquoson Bar Association.
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