Fairfax County Prosecutor Places Limits on Cases Will Prosecute

By now, I’m sure you know my areas of practice are Traffic & Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, and Bankruptcy. This post pertains to the defense portion of my practice immensely because Fairfax County’s top prosecutor Steve Descano, known as the Commonwealth’s Attorney (aka the District Attorney “DA” in other states) put out a formal notice to the public about their new policy regarding what cases they will now prosecute.

Here’s the link to the official statement: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/commonwealthattorney/current-caseload-capacity

The change is significant in that there is much unknown as to what happens now with misdemeanor offenses in Fairfax County. Although the statement is recent, the practice has been going on since last week, July 13, 2020, when attorneys found themselves with various cases but with no prosecutor to discuss the cases. Essentially, the prosecutors are not prosecuting the cases with which officers are charging people. There is no prosecutor for the defense attorney to discuss the facts and legal issues to reach a resolution without a trial.

While I handle many cases in other counties in Northern Virginia, my office is located in Fairfax, Virginia and things have changed greatly for the practice of law and defense of individuals charged with crimes in this area. Not just because of COVID-19 or the new Commonwealth Attorney, but because Arlington, Prince William, and Fairfax Counties also have new county prosecutors who are implementing a new way of operating their offices.

During these times of change, being respectful to law enforcement and maintaining professional relationships are proving to be beneficial to our clients. Despite prosecutors excusing themselves from many misdemeanor cases, you should still consult a lawyer as jail or other consequences remain a possibility. We’ll see how these changes pan out in the future.