If your criminal trial does not end in the result you were hoping for, you may still have some options for overturning the conviction. In Culpeper, you have the right to seek appellate review of your case. The appeals process involves a unique set of rules and procedures that are different from a criminal trial. An experienced criminal defense attorney could provide you with a better understanding of your rights in the appellate system.
If you believe you might benefit from pursuing an appeal of your criminal conviction, there is no time to waste. Contact a Culpeper appeals lawyer right away to discuss your options.
There are two levels of appellate review in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The lower appellate court is known as the Court of Appeals of Virginia. Above that court is the Supreme Court of Virginia.
The Court of Appeals of Virginia was established in 1985 to serve as an intermediary court between the circuit courts of each county and the Supreme Court of Virginia. This court hears appeals of criminal convictions directly from the circuit courts. In total, 11 judges sit on the Court of Appeals of Virginia.
The court will consider each case that comes before it, and in most cases, either uphold the ruling of the trial court or disagree and send the case to be re-heard at the trial level. If the defendant is unhappy with the ruling at this level, they can appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia.
The Supreme Court of Virginia is the highest court within the Commonwealth. Among its other roles, the Supreme Court of Virginia hears criminal cases that were initially appealed to the Court of Appeals of Virginia. As with the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court can uphold the trial court’s decision or remand the case back for additional proceedings. As the highest court in the Commonwealth, it is the final option for an appeal.
The appellate process is not a do-over that gives a defendant a second shot at convincing the court of their innocence. An appeal is only viable if an error occurred at the trial level. For an appeal to be viable, a Culpeper appellate attorney must rely on errors to which the petitioner (defendant at trial) objected. There are two types of errors that can occur in circuit court: plain error and harmless error.
A plain error is a mistake so grave that justice demands a new trial for the defendant. This new trial must occur regardless of the strength of the case against a defendant. Common examples of plain error include:
In contrast, a harmless error is a mistake that occurs at trial that does not require the overturning of a conviction. An error that did not make an acquittal more likely is considered harmless.
If you were convicted of a crime, the appeals process might be your last chance to fight back. Though complicated, the appellate court system could be the ideal venue for remand or another favorable outcome. To learn more about how a Culpeper appeals lawyer might be able to help; call today to schedule an initial consultation.