The office of the Commonwealth's Attorney is responsible for the prosecution of all violations of criminal law occurring in New Kent County. In addition the office handles a variety of other public safety responsibilities ranging from training and advice to police officers, to helping victims cope with the consequences of crime.
The office has the duty to prosecute all felonies, and may, in its discretion, prosecute Class 1, 2, and 3 misdemeanors. In the prosecution of such cases, the office of the Commonwealth's Attorney must interview witnesses, including police officers, and subpoena witnesses to court. The office enforces all forfeitures of property or money used in furtherance of criminal activity and in addition the office prosecutes conflicts of interest violations which may be committed by local employees and officials. It renders advisory opinions as to whether the facts in a case would violate conflicts of interest.
Additional prosecution responsibilities may include violations of heath laws and regulations as required by State and local codes and violations of professional and occupational laws and regulations as required by code. The office further provides training to the Sheriff's Office on new statutes and case law and works with the Sheriff's Office and County Attorney on animal control issues, particularly dangerous/vicious dogs.
About the Office
The position of Commonwealth's Attorney was established by the Constitution of Virginia in Article VII, Section 4. The voters of New Kent County elect a Commonwealth's Attorney to serve a four year term.
Because the Commonwealth's Attorney in each locality has the sole discretion as to whether a defendant should be prosecuted and, if so, how the case should be tried, he represents the interests of the people of Virginia. Each Commonwealth's Attorney has the dual responsibility to vigorously prosecute those who violate the law while refusing to prosecute those against whom the evidence does not indicate probable guilt.
Although Commonwealth's Attorneys represent Virginians in court, they do not provide legal counsel to state government. This is the role of the Attorney General of Virginia, who is elected by the state's voters every four years. Commonwealth's Attorneys also do not provide legal counsel to individual citizens on private or civil matters. Citizens in need of legal assistance may call the Virginia State Bar Referral Service at 800-552-7977.