What to Expect At a DC Burglary Trial

In DC courts, you can expect to see police officers in uniform with firearms on their hip. Many courthouses do not allow that, but DC still does. Do not be nervous, they are not responding to an emergency event. In many jurisdictions, police officers and armed officials have to check their guns at the door, so if you see a group of police officers inside the courtroom with guns on their hip do not get worried that something is happening, because in DC, that is still normal procedure.

Upon entering the courthouse you are going to have to go through metal detectors to get inside the court. These are the same metal detectors that are utilized in airports and large public event spaces, so make sure you do not have anything that could be considered a weapon or used as a weapon. This cannot be stressed enough. Under absolutely no circumstance should you bring anything that can even be confused as a weapon with you when you go to court.

They do not allow cameras in court, and some courthouses do not allow cell phones. Washington, DC courts do allow you to have a cell phone, but you must turn the phone off when you go inside the courtroom.

You can expect that there will likely be some waiting involved in getting through security, and once you do you will go through the metal detectors, and place your belongings through a magnetometer, or x-ray machine.

You should also expect to have to wait once in court. Court is oftentimes a lot of “hurry up and wait,” where your case may be heard in a courtroom that has 20 or 30 other matters on the calendar set at the same time as yours. You may likely be sitting there for a while until the court is ready to call your case. If your case is set to be heard at 9:30, you should budget more than half an hour or an hour, because even though the hearing itself may only take a couple of minutes, you might be there for a couple of hours. You would talk to your attorney about what to expect for a particular hearing.

Length of Burglary Cases

Burglary cases, as all felony cases, should be expected to take several months and may even take over a year, depending upon the specific circumstances of the case. If an individual who has been charged with a felony, such as burglary, is out of custody, the government may take up to nine months to secure an indictment and trial would occur thereafter. That is why it might take a year or more.

Usually, a felony case takes on average, five to seven months. Some might be handled faster, depending upon what happens in the case and what the outcome is. As far as taking a case to trial in a felony case, if a person is out of custody it could take up to a year. If they are in custody, they have a right to a speedy trial, which would mean a trial would happen within 100 days of when they were first put in custody. Because burglary is a felony, the defendant has the right to have a jury trial.

Case Resolution

A burglary case is almost never resolved on the first court date. The only time a case can be resolved on the first court date is if it refers to an arraignment in a misdemeanor case or a presentment in a felony case where the government elects not to proceed with the case. They like to dismiss it because they have realized there is some fatal flaw in the case or maybe they intend to bring it again later on once they have gathered more evidence or more information. Nonetheless, in some circumstances a case will be resolved on the first date because the government elects not to go forward. That is not the usual circumstance. Usually, on the first court date initial release conditions will be set and the court will be setting a person’s next court date.

Where Trials Are Held

All adult criminal prosecutions are open to the public in DC Superior Court. They are public matters, where the public can come in, sit down, and watch the proceedings in the courtroom. The information about the case can also be obtained online, as can some limited information from that court docket. A member of the public can go to the court and request copies of certain documents, such as motions, that are in the court file and that have not been filed under seal to be kept from the public.

Publicity of Burglary Trials

A burglary case, like any other criminal case involving adults, is going to be open to the public. As far as going to court, you always want to be presentable. It is good to consider the term, “Wear your Sunday best.” You want to dress to show that you are showing respect for the court, because you have limited opportunities to make a good impression upon someone who may later be making important decisions about you and your future. It is critical that they have a good impression of you. You want to always be 100% stone sober, look presentable, and show respect for the proceeding.

Burglary Cases Process

Because burglary is a felony, it differs from misdemeanor cases in that the government needs to secure an indictment from the grand jury to proceed with the case. It also involves a preliminary hearing to have a judge decide if there is probable cause for the case to proceed. Those are additional steps that a misdemeanor case does not involve.

The jury pool in a burglary case would be the same jury pool as any other jury pool in the District of Columbia Superior Court.