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Judge or Magistrate?

In Virginia, the court has two main judicial officials, the magistrate and the judge. Both are well respected for their authority. Each plays an important role in how the judicial system operates and each one has duties that are individual to their particular office. Learning the role of each one will allow you to better understand the judicial process in Virginia. At County Bail Bonds, our agents have established working relationships with both local magistrates and judges in an attempt to help our clients make their way through the judicial system as smoothly as possible. 

Who Can Set My Bail? 

In Virginia, the court is set up using different levels of authority. Both magistrates and judges are used to speed up the judicial process while making sure each person is treated fairly and their constitutional rights are respected. Within the court system of the Commonwealth of Virginia, both the magistrate and the judge are capable of setting a defendant's bail. The nature and severity of the charges will determine which one a defendant sees at their arraignment and who will set their bail. 

The Role of a Magistrate 

Within the Virginia Commonwealth, there are eight magisterial regions, with each region being made up of three to five districts. Each magistrate is allowed to set bail for certain offenses, issue subpoenas, approve emergency mental or medical custody orders, prepare summonses and issue arrest warrants. The magistrates in each district work under the supervision of the Executive Secretary of the courts and have much the same powers as a judge, only in a more limited capacity. The magistrate can hold bail bond hearings at any time. Individuals who have been arrested and charged with minor or misdemeanor offenses will normally be seen by the magistrate instead of the judge. The magistrate's primary function is to review or evaluate complaints from law enforcement officers from all agents as well as citizen's complaints. 

The Role of the Judge 

Judges within the Circuit Court system are responsible for setting the bail for the most severe criminal offenses. The primary role of the judge is to hold court during trial proceedings and to render sentencing as it is required. In the Commonwealth court system of Virginia, the judge has broader authority than a magistrate and has the power to revoke a person's bond or declare it forfeited. In certain situations, the magistrates may be given this capability if it is warranted. In most cases, however, the final word of law rests with the judge and his decision is the final ruling. While the magistrate operates under the authority of the Executive Secretary, judges within the system, whether they be from the Supreme court, appeals court, or circuit court judges are governed by the Supreme Court of the State of Virginia. 

Arraignment Hearings 

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, in order for a defendant to have bail set, they must be seen by either the magistrate or the judge at an arraignment hearing. During the arraignment process, the magistrate or judge will take into consideration the defendant's past criminal history, their ties to the community, their employment status, whether or not they have any pending cases, and whether or not they are a potential flight risk. For individuals with minor crimes and a minimal flight risk, their bail can be set by the magistrate. If an individual has an extensive criminal history or has skipped on bail in the past, the case may bypass the magistrate and go directly to the judge for a final review. Individuals who have committed violent crimes are normally sent straight to the judge for a bail hearing, bypassing the magistrate, altogether. Bail that is set by the judge is often higher than that which is set by the magistrate. Each case is based on its own merit, however, and will be treated accordingly. 

At County Bail Bonds, our agents know and understand the judicial process. When you call our office we can easily walk you through the arrest, booking, release, and arraignment process. In reality, the judicial system of Virginia is simplified to streamline the arrest and trial processes. Even though the courts may seem threatening, our agents are there to help you make your way through the system. Over the years, we have established a reputation of being knowledgeable and compassionate towards our clients. The experience we have gained by working within this judicial system, allows us to provide insight into what is happening throughout the process. If you or a loved one is facing an arrest or are already in jail, call 703-879-8115 and talk to one of our reputable bail bonds agents. The agents of County Bail Bonds are available, any time of day or night. Our goal is to provide our clients with the most professional service possible, no matter where they are in the tri-state area.

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