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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Endgame: Resolving Drug Crime Charges in Virginia

Endgame: Resolving Drug Crime Charges in Virginia


In the early days of the Republic, criminal trials resolved almost all drug crime and other crime charges in Virginia. The landscape began changing in the 1880s. As the nation grew, taxpayers were unwilling to pay for more courts and prosecutors. To speed cases through the system, the plea bargaining system began. As late as the 1980s, drug crime trials were still somewhat common. Today, they’re very rare, although the option is still available.

The same defenses are available in both trial and plea matters. So, a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer can leverage these defenses at trial or during pretrial negotiating sessions. Agreed please resolve most criminal cases, but that’s certainly not the only option available. Only an attorney with significant trial experience can effectively use all three options. An inexperienced lawyer’s options are limited.


These abbreviations are Legalese for trial before the court and trial before a jury. Sometimes, a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer sets a case for trial to pressure the prosecutor into offering a favorable deal. Other times, attorneys set cases for trial because a legal or other defense cannot be resolved during pretrial negotiations.

The waiting time for a bench trial (TBC) is much shorter than the waiting list for a jury trial. So, if time is important, a TBC may be the best choice. A TBC is also a good choice if the defendant has a legal defense that would probably sway the judge. Furthermore, TBCs are procedurally straightforward. Even a complex TBC might only last a half day.

When an attorney sets a case for a jury trial, the trial date might be several months away. Additionally, jury trials require much more preparation. Attorneys must select a jury, a process that usually requires mock juries during the preparation phase. Attorneys must also fine-tune legal arguments and litigate a case that could take several weeks to conclude.

Usually, a jury trial is a better idea if the defendant has an equitable or emotional defense that’s more like a mitigating circumstance.

Agreed Plea

Plea bargain negotiations resemble other negotiations. One side, usually the prosecutor, opens with an offer. The defense attorney makes a counteroffer, usually based on the procedural and/or substantive defenses in the case.

Procedural defenses include Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations, like illegal searches and illegal interrogations. Substantive defenses include unreliable witnesses and other things which make it harder for the state to prove guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. Then, the two sides exchange offers and counteroffers.

Many people criticize the plea bargaining system because, for the most part, it takes place behind closed doors and without judicial supervision. However, it’s the system we have. Furthermore, the judge has the final word. The judge can accept or reject an agreed plea bargain agreement, although judges almost always accept them.

Open Plea

An open plea is a combination of a bench or jury trial and an agreed plea. The defendant pleads guilty and a judge or jury assesses punishment. It’s obviously very risky to throw oneself on the mercy of the court, but this strategy is effective in some cases.

Rely on a Dedicated Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. Convenient payment plans are available.



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