Hampton Roads Robbery Trials


Once an individual has been arrested for a robbery offense, they are typically arraigned and then receive the date of their trial. Hampton Roads robbery trials could have serious consequences for an individual. If a person is found guilty of a robbery offense, they could be incarcerated and have a permanent criminal record. As a result of that record, they might have more difficulty finding employment. With so much at stake, it is vital that charged individuals seek the services of a capable robbery attorney that could build a solid defense for them.

Bench Trials Versus Jury Trials

Typically, the standard trial in a Virginia robbery case is a jury trial. For there to be a bench trial, the prosecution, the defense, and the judge has to agree to waive a jury. About 80% of the time in practice, if the defendant waives a jury trial and wishes for a bench trial, the other parties will agree to that. The rest of the time the judge or prosecution finds whatever reason to refuse to agree to a bench trial.

Most of the time Hampton Roads robbery trials are tried by a judge because technically there is less risk of getting a life sentence. In robbery cases, the maximum sentence is life in prison. A jury will often make sentences without any guidance, so individuals will want to avoid a potential situation where they are sentenced to life in prison and do not have any recourse. These are decisions made based on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding any given case.

When are Robbery Cases Open to the Public?

All circuit court cases in Virginia and in the United States are presumed open. Under very limited circumstances there can be motions to close the court. There has to be a significant reason to close the session. Usually, this is either for security reasons or because the identity of the victim is not allowed to be released. The judge may wish to close the courtroom. However, the default setting is that a circuit court trial is open to everyone.

Difference Between Robbery and Other Criminal Trials

There are two major differences between Hampton Roads robbery trials and all other criminal trials. The first difference is that robbery carries a potential sentence of life in prison. These cases are very serious and are handled in a serious fashion. Secondly, robbery crimes are crimes against the person. This means that the victim is more involved in the cases and their concerns are taken into account more by the prosecution when deciding whether or not to make plea offers.

Duration of Robbery Trials

The length of Hampton Roads robbery trials will vary based on the amount of evidence and witnesses involved. In some cases, the jury selection process will take a long time, so that can add to the length of the trial as well.

There are situations where a person is able to reach a resolution of the case with the prosecution on the first court date. This can happen usually when an individual agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge that is agreeable to the prosecution and the defendant.

Robbery Court Case Process

What happens is once a person’s case gets up to circuit court either by indictment or their case is certified in the district court to circuit court, they appear for an arraignment date. At the arraignment date, a trial date is set by the court. In some jurisdictions, they will ask for either a guilty or not guilty plea. They may also ask if the trial is going to be a bench or jury trial.

After that, it will usually take about six to eight weeks from that arraignment date for the case to be heard. During that time, the person up for trial and the defense attorney work to figure out the best strategy moving forward. At that point when a person gets to trial, the events surrounding the case will be summarized and a sentence will be reached. If a person pleads not guilty then the case will be tried. The Commonwealth will pull evidence, and the defense will also have an opportunity to obtain any evidence they may want.

The process used in Hampton Roads robbery trials does not differ too much from that of other criminal trials.  They are more serious because there is the possible penalty of life in prison. Also, because robberies are crimes against the person, they tend to be more emotional cases. Because the alleged victim is often involved they can have an influence as to how the Commonwealth pursues the case.

Important Aspects of Court Cases

One of the first things someone should know about Hampton Roads robbery trials is that their first court date, they are not being tried. The first court date is usually to ask the accused whether they are pleading guilty or not guilty. They always have the opportunity to change a plea to guilty before trial. If a person asks for a bench trial or jury trial, they can always change when it gets closer to trial. Individuals should try to avoid self-incrimination.

Most importantly, a person must show up to court on time. If someone is late, depending on the judge, they run the risk of having a contempt of court charge. For a first court date, date, an individual will oftentimes enter either a guilty or not guilty plea. It is important to know also that an individual should not talk about their case outside of going to enter their plea. Anything someone says can be used against them later on, so they will not want to open the door to potentially damaging information about their case being exposed. At that stage, it is vital that an individual retain the services of a qualified lawyer that could advocate for them.