Offender Being Questioned and Giving Testimony to Judge

What to Expect at Trial

E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law  Dec. 14, 2023

If you're facing criminal charges, it's natural to feel overwhelmed and unsure about what lies ahead. Understanding the trial process can provide some clarity and peace of mind.  

Speaking with a criminal defense attorney early on is extremely important. They can advise you on your rights and potential defenses and guide you through the entire process. 

If you're in Virginia, reach out to E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law. Gordan has offices in Lynchburg and Blackstone, and he represents clients throughout the communities of Amherst County, Campbell County, Bedford County, Nottoway County, Prince Edward County, and Charlotte County. 

Before the Trial

Arrest and Booking: First, you need to understand the initial stages: the arrest and booking. This is where your journey within the Virginia criminal justice system begins. It's important to know your rights during these initial stages, which include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.  

After being arrested, you will be booked at a police station or jail. This typically involves taking your fingerprints, photographing you, and recording personal information like your name and address. You may also be searched for any physical evidence related to the arrest. 

Bail or Bond Hearing: After being booked, you will have a bail or bond hearing. This is where the court determines whether you should be released before your trial, and if so, what conditions will be imposed. These conditions may include restrictions on travel, drug or alcohol testing, and monitoring by a pretrial services agency. 

Having an experienced criminal defense attorney can greatly increase your chances of being released on bail or bond. They can argue for lower bail or alternative forms of release that are more favorable to you. 

Arraignment and Charges: If you are not released on bail or bond, you will remain in custody until your arraignment. This is where the prosecution formally charges you with a crime and you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. 

During this stage, you might hear legal jargon that's confusing, so it's essential to have someone like Gordon by your side who can prepare you beforehand.  

Preliminary Hearing and Probable Cause: If you’re charged with a felony, a preliminary hearing will be held to decide if there's probable cause to proceed to trial. This is a crucial stage; it's where the court determines if there's enough evidence against you to justify a trial.  

At this point, your attorney can challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution and argue for lack of probable cause. This could result in reduced charges or even dismissal of the case. 

During the Trial

Should your case go to trial, the type of trial you have depends on your charges. Misdemeanor cases are heard in bench trials without juries, while felony cases may be eligible for a jury trial.  

When you're facing criminal charges, one of the most critical stages is the trial process. Whether your case involves a misdemeanor or a felony, understanding what happens during a trial can help alleviate some of the anxiety and uncertainty you may be feeling. Remember, Gordon, from E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law, is here to guide you every step of the way. 

Misdemeanor Trials

If you're charged with a misdemeanor in Virginia, your trial will likely be a bench trial held at the district court level. A bench trial means that there's no jury involved. Instead, a judge will hear your case, evaluate the evidence, and make a decision regarding your guilt or innocence. 

During a bench trial, your attorney will present your defense, which may include:  

  • questioning witnesses,  

  • challenging the prosecution's evidence, and  

  • arguing legal points on your behalf.  

He has years of experience navigating the nuances of bench trials and knows how to effectively present your case to the judge. 

Felony Trials 

On the other hand, if you're charged with a felony, your case may be eligible for a jury trial. In a jury trial, a panel of your peers, rather than a judge, will determine your guilt or innocence.  

Once the trial begins, both the defense and the prosecution will present their cases. This process includes:  

  1. Opening statements - The opening statement is like the roadmap for a trial. It's the first thing the judge or jury hears from the attorney. This is where the attorney, whether it's the prosecutor or defense lawyer, outlines their case. They'll give an overview of what they believe the evidence will show. It's not a time to argue, but rather a chance to sketch out the "big picture" of the case.  

  1. Witness testimonies - Witness testimonies are crucial in any trial. They're the accounts given by individuals who have witnessed events related to the case. A witness could be anyone from an eyewitness who saw the event unfold to an expert who can provide specialized knowledge relevant to the case.  

  1. Cross-examinations - Cross-examinations happen after a witness has given their testimony. This is where the other side gets a chance to question the witness. The aim is often to challenge the credibility of the witness or the accuracy of their testimony.  

  1. Closing arguments - The closing argument is the last chance for the attorney to speak to the judge or jury before they start deliberating. In this stage, the attorney will summarize the evidence and explain why it supports their case. They may also point out flaws in the opposing side's arguments. 

Gordon is a seasoned trial attorney who knows how to construct compelling arguments and challenge the prosecution's case, no matter what gets revealed during the process. 

Verdict and Sentencing

Whether you have a bench trial or a jury trial, the final step in the trial process is the verdict. If you're found guilty, the judge will determine your sentence. This could involve fines, jail time, probation, or other penalties depending on the severity of the crime. 


If you're convicted, it’s not the end of the road. You have the right to appeal your case. Gordon will be there to guide you through this process, helping you understand the grounds for appeal and pursuing every avenue to challenge your conviction. 

Navigate the Criminal Justice Process With Confidence

Being charged with a crime can feel like an uphill battle, but Gordon is committed to being with you every step of the way. Gordon is a master strategist and a formidable presence in the courtroom. He's well-versed in navigating both bench trials and jury trials, ensuring your case is presented in the best possible light. He understands the stress you're under and provides compassionate service throughout.  

In conclusion, understanding what to expect at trial can help reduce anxiety and uncertainty. However, every case is unique, and having a trusted attorney like Gordon by your side can make all the difference. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, reach out to E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law. Let Gordon's experience and dedication work for you.