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A lot has changed as of July 1, 2021. New Virginia laws caused a lot of prosecutorial heartache and angst. The balance is slowly shifting towards a more level playing field in criminal justice. Jury trials with judge sentencing, probation violation changes, sentencing guideline modifications, robbery offense levels, limited legalization of marijuana…. most areas of criminal law were touched.

Bail hearings are the first change that most criminal defendants will see.

The Virginia Bail Statute, Virginia Code Section 19.2-120, used to have a litany of crimes and conditions that would require a court to hold someone without bail, unless the defendant could come up with enough evidence to show the court why it should release them. This was known as the “presumption against bail.” The prosecutor would do nothing but point the judge to the charges or to the defendant’s criminal history.

The new bail statute merely states that a court SHALL admit a defendant to bail, unless the Commonwealth can show probable cause that there is either “(1) He will not appear for trial or hearing or at such other time and place as may be directed, or (2) His liberty will constitute an unreasonable danger to himself, family or household members as defined in § 16.1-228, or the public.”

The burden is now “shifted” to the Commonwealth Attorney (prosecutor) to show some evidence other than a mere comment to the judge -  “look at the terrible stuff he’s charged with.”

However, many judges are still living in the old days. Their brains are wired to reject bail for certain crimes and think under the old “presumption against bail” conditions. I find myself reminding judges every week about the new law, their duty to follow it, and the standards that apply.

Most criminal defendants will only get one or two chances at bail. This is an important stage of the trial process and must be approached with strength and confidence. Brian M. Latuga, Esq. is here to help if a friend or loved one is in jail in Virginia. Call Brian directly (757-687-3657) for a free consultation; or, call his assistant, Heather, to make an appointment. Our contact information is here


We fight beginning to end.


Not every case is the same, and all have numerous factors that must be analyzed. By no means is this a full legal analysis of Bail or Bond Hearing law. This short article is not legal advice nor should it be considered legal advice. The sole purpose is to shed some light on your bail hearings and Virginia Statute 19.-2-120.

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