If you believe that you may have been unjustly convicted of a criminal offense in Virginia you may have the right to file an appeal. With this in mind, however, there are a number of things you need to consider and a variety of requirements you must meet. To learn more about filing an appeal for your case call and schedule a consultation with a Virginia Appeals lawyer today.
The appeal process depends on what type of appeal you are dealing with. If you are talking about an appeal for a misdemeanor or traffic matter from the general district court to the circuit court, that is known as an appeal de novo. An appeal de novo means that the judgment of the lower court is completely wiped out and the case proceeds anew from the very beginning. This means that the findings, rulings and evidentiary decisions from the lower court are not considered. You are free to consider a different defense strategy on an appeal de novo or pursue a jury trial even if you had a bench trial at the lower court.
A case that is appealed from the circuit court to the Court of Appeals of Virginia works differently. For a case to have merit in the Court of Appeals, there typically must be error on the record. Error on the record means something more than, “I think the judge got it wrong.” Error on the record might refer to legal rulings regarding entry or prohibition of certain evidence. Alternatively, it might refer to evidentiary rulings regarding motions practiced, such as motions to suppress, or regarding jury instructions or other procedural matters. If the appeal is solely based upon the consistency of the evidence, it must be an extraordinary case for the Court of Appeals of Virginia to overrule the circuit court.
In addition, there is a final appeal from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court of Virginia. In making this appeal, you are essentially making arguments that the Court of Appeals erred in their decision, and that claim must be supported by case law. Appeals beyond the circuit court are largely law-based rather than facts-based and therefore warrant attention from a NoVa appeals attorney.
Time wise filing an appeal depends upon the type of case you wish to appeal. If you are appealing a judgment of the General District Court, that appeal must be filed within ten days of the final order of the General District Court. Typically, in a traffic or misdemeanor matter, you have ten days from your trial date to file an appeal. If you fail to file an appeal within ten days, your appeal rights are deemed to be waived. If you are talking about appealing from the circuit court to the Court of Appeals, there are specific rules governed by Rule 5 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia regarding the filing factors in the Court of Appeals. These appeals must be noted within 30 days of your trial.
The number of appeals allowed depends upon the type of case. Every type of case comes with a different filing process. However, you typically get only one appeal from the general district court to the circuit court, and likewise, one appeal from the circuit court to the Court of Appeals. In extraordinary cases, you may even note an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.
There are many important considerations to take into account when thinking about filing an appeal. One of the important considerations in every Virginia appeal is the appellate costs. Typically, fees from the court’s office will be associated with your appeal unless you are completely successful in your appeal or your case is dismissed. If you are found guilty, then you have failed on the appeal and you may have additional court costs.
Additionally, in an appeal de novo from the General District Court to the Circuit Court, the Circuit Court is not bound by the sentencing decisions of the General District Court. For example, if you feel that the judgment from the general district court is overly harsh for a traffic case or a DUI case, there is nothing to say that the circuit court will not come down with even more strict punishments. This includes punishments decided by a jury in Virginia. Sometimes juries are more lenient and sometimes they are harsher, depending on the unique facts and circumstances of your case. So the possible outcomes are another factor to consider.
You should also consider the representation and preparation costs. Many times, if you have hired an attorney for one court level, you may need to hire that attorney again or hire a different appeals lawyer in Northern Virginia for the appeal procedure.
Due to the various requirements and sometimes complicated process of filing an appeal, it is imperative that you consult with a Virginia appeals lawyer as soon as possible before beginning your appeal. To learn more, call and schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney today.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law