Virginia State Bar

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

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Criminal Law

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Membership Information

Organized in 1967 as one of the largest sections, the Section on Criminal Law broadly represents prosecutors, defense counsel, trial judges and academics concerned with the criminal justice system in the Commonwealth. It also has one of the most active continuing legal education programs. For the past 30 years, the section has held its annual Criminal Law Seminar in February in two locations in the state. Outstanding speakers, including nationally renowned luncheon speakers such as Bobby Lee Cook and Gerry Spence, make this seminar the most highly successful CLE program on criminal law in Virginia. In addition, from time to time the section presents its "Carrico Professionalism Award" to a member of the public or the profession. The section also publishes approximately eight issues a year of the Criminal Law News.

pdf Membership Application


What Does Criminal Law Section Membership Offer You?

Superior Publications

Criminal Law Newsletter

• Published 4 times a year - to keep members current on recent developments in the field of criminal practice in Virginia.

• Each issue contains section news, a letter from the section chair; digests of recent criminal law and criminal procedure decisions by the Virginia Supreme Court; the Virginia Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; a calendar of upcoming Continuing Legal Education programs of interest; and periodic articles on criminal justice topics.

• Also included periodically are summaries of important recent Virginia and Federal legislation in the criminal law and procedure area, and reports of important studies by committees of the section on subjects of interest to members. Reports in recent years have dealt with videotape usage in the courtroom, specialization, indigent defense issues, professionalism, and handling capital cases in Virginia.

Capital Trial Manual

The section was instrumental in the preparation of the Capital Case Trial Manual, originally published in 1991, to aid in the competent and professional handling of cases involving the death penalty. The manual is soon to be published in its fourth edition. An annual supplement is published in between new editions.

Educational Programs

Annual Criminal Law Seminar

The seminar, held in February of each year, features outstanding speakers discussing the "how-to's" of important techniques in the handling of criminal cases. Section membership entitles you to a significant discount on the registration fee for the Seminar

A luncheon speaker of note highlights each program which ranks annually as the best-attended continuing legal education program on criminal law topics in the Commonwealth. Luncheon speakers have included such prominent individuals as Bobby Lee Cook, Gerry Spence, F. Lee Bailey, Janet Reno, Roy Black, Vincent Bugliosi, Professor Michael Tigar, and 'Racehorse' Haynes. A reception for Section members precedes each Seminar.

Virginia State Bar Meetings

Prominent speakers on criminal justice and procedure subjects are also presented at the Annual Meeting of the Virginia State Bar and periodically at the Midyear Legal Seminar.

Criminal Justice Reform

There is no other organization in Virginia that is so broadly representative of prosecutors, defense counsel, and trial judges concerned with the criminal justice system in the state. The section’s Board of Governors includes prosecutors, defense attorneys, a Circuit Court judge, a General District Court judge, a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court judge, a U.S. District Court judge, as well as a representative of the Virginia Attorney General, and a U.S. Attorney. The diversity on the board has been effective in speaking with one voice for the improvement of criminal justice in Virginia.

The section has been involved in many issues important to the criminal justice system in Virginia:

· Establishment of the Virginia Public Defender Commission;

· Improvements in the Indigent Criminal Defense System, including increases in fees for representation of indigent defendants charged with crime; the establishment of a statewide system for the appointment of attorneys in capital cases; and development of a process for seeking waivers for statutory fee caps;

· Statewide Study on Bail Reform;

· Spearheaded efforts leading to the adoption of rules on guilty pleas; and

· Evaluation of use of videotape in pretrial and trial proceedings.

The section has frequently been called upon by the Members and Committees of the General Assembly for its advice on matters affecting the criminal justice system in the Commonwealth. Section members and past chairs also have been called on to sit as citizen members on legislative studies.

Add Your Voice to the Thousands of Other Section Members Who Preceded You!

Annual Section Dues: $20.00 (July 1 - June30)

Dues are waived from April-June of each bar year; dues are waived for judicial members.

To begin enjoying the benefits of membership in the Criminal Law Section, please complete the attached Membership Application and forward it to the Virginia State Bar.


pdf Membership Application