The Virginia Criminal Justice System
Virginia criminal defense attorney Matthew Crowley answers frequently asked questions on the criminal justice system in Virginia. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case call today.
Are There Any Charges That The Court Takes Very Seriously?
Virginia courts take every case very seriously. Every case has the potential to be serious for the accused and it has to be treated as though as it is serious. With that said there are certain things that are taken more serious by some judges than others, it’s an issue of needing to know the judge and what they have done in the past.
There are some judges that are particularly tough when it comes to DUIs or drug possessions. All judges are very tough on, and take very seriously crimes, that involve children as victims whether it’s a DUI with a child in the car or, felony endangerment of a child, or alleged abuse of a child of some kind.
Gun charges are also always taken very seriously by prosecutors and judges in Virginia courts because again it’s a public safety issue and it’s a scenario where there’s the potential for serious injury or loss of life.
What Are Some of The Problems You See With The Court in The Criminal Justice System and How it Currently Operates?
I think there are two main problems that I see. One of them is what’s been referred to as the militarization of the police. It seems to be increasingly true that law enforcement agencies are equipping their officers with military style gear and are using military tactics. I think this has become a problem. I think that the functions of a military and the functions of law enforcement are actually very different and that when officers are equipped to look like soldiers and trained to use tactics that soldiers use, it makes for a less safe public, and more difficult for officers to do their jobs. I think that’s something that the President has addressed, many governors have addressed it. It’s something I think that is being increasingly looked at as something that is of concern.
The other issue is very simply that the criminal justice system is a system that is stacked against the accused. On the side of the government’s ledger is an entire police force, investigators, forensics labs, prosecutors and the backing and the financial wherewithal of the state government or in some cases a federal government. That’s a lot to contend with for one person and I think that there’s also an unfortunate perception out there among many citizens who ultimately become jurors that if someone has been charged, they must have done something wrong.
That it leads to a scenario where the cards are really stacked against someone not only because the resources on the other side are so great, but also because the presumption of innocence isn’t taken as seriously in our society as it should be.
What Are Some Solutions to These Problems in Your Opinion?
Well, as far as solutions to the militarization of police, I think that this is something that simply needs to be studied more that people need to be more vocal. They need to write to their state delegates and senators, their governor, congress person, and senators and ask them to address these issues.
But, in terms of being in a scenario where the system is stacked against you, you have to even the odds and the only way that you can do that is by hiring counsel experienced in criminal defense who has the benefit of significant resources at his or her disposal such as experience, private investigators, other attorneys in the firm, among much else, so that you have then the ability to meet all of the resources arrayed against you with significant resources, experience, and ability on your own side.