There are two types of appeals in Virginia. The first kind of appeal is an appeal from a district court to the higher trial court in Virginia known as Circuit Court. The second type of appeal is an appeal from the Circuit Court to the Virginia appellate courts, including the Virginia Court of Appeals and Virginia Supreme Court. An appeal to Circuit Court is essentially a do-over of a case, whereas an appeal to the appellate courts is a conventional appeal where the result stands unless an error is demonstrated by the trial court.
To appeal to Circuit Court from the General District Court or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, a person must note their appeal within ten days of when the final order is entered. To appeal beyond Circuit Court, a person must note their appeal within 30 days of when the final order is entered.
A person can only appeal their case once if it is a post-conviction appeal. However, if the appeal involves a pre-conviction matter like bail or the admissibility of evidence, multiple appeals are possible.
Read below to learn more about appealing a case. If you have any questions, contact a Prince William County appeals lawyer. Let an accomplished criminal attorney advocate for you.
Appeals will demand more time and money from the defendant, and do not always result in a better outcome than what is being appealed. In the case of a re-trial in Circuit Court, an appeal could actually result in a worse outcome than before. All appellants should understand that appeals are hard to win, and that winning an appeal does not automatically mean that the whole case is thrown out. However, appeals are certainly a defendant’s last chance to challenge what has already happened if they want to resist what has happened as a matter of principle or want to file a challenge that has a small chance of succeeding. Appeals can be a useful way to get someone released on an appeal bond for a lengthy amount of time even though they have already been convicted and sentenced. For more information, consult with an appeals lawyer in Prince William County.
The most common reason appeals get denied is that the trial lawyer failed to preserve the arguments made on appeal during the trial as well. The Virginia appellate courts have demanding rules about how the defense must first pose the claim of an alleged-error to the trial court, and then have the trial court consider the issue and side against the defense before moving on to an appeal of the issue. Many lawyers are unskilled or unknowledgeable about preserving errors for appeal, or simply do not realize an error at the time it has happened. Most arguments on appeal cannot be new arguments that were not previously presented to the trial court, so anticipating and panning for grounds of appeal can be a difficult process.
Another common reason that appeals are routinely denied is the harmless error doctrine. In essence, Virginia law allows appellate courts to uphold a trial court’s decision even if the decision was reached through an error, if the error was not significant enough to have ultimately changed the trial court’s guilty verdict or sentence. Of course, it is impossible to know what would have happened if the error had not been committed, but the standard for predicting the impact of the error is very protective of the trial court. Appellate courts are not allowed to second guess or disagree with the trial court’s interpretation of the evidence, and can only grant an appeal if the trial court made a clear, recognized legal mistake which was brought to its attention or should have been known at the time.
A notice of appeal to Circuit Court is filed on a pre-written court form available with the district court clerk’s office, who is also the entity that the notice is filed with. A notice of appeal beyond Circuit Court is prepared by an attorney and filed with both the Circuit Court clerk’s office and the clerk of the particular appellate court involved.
For help with appealing your case, get in touch with a Prince William County appeals lawyer. Let a skilled attorney fight for you.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law