The appeal process in Virginia is fairly complicated because there are so many different levels of appeals and different types of appeals depending on what court your appeal begin in. As a result, it is important you consult with a Virginia appeals lawyer to ensure that you you go about your process in the correct way and put forth the strongest argument possible. To learn more call and schedule a consultation with a defense attorney in Virginia today.
If you are convicted of a criminal offense in the General District Court, you have ten days from the date of your conviction to appeal. These ten days start from the date you appear in front of the judge and the judge enters a guilty conviction in your case.
If you are appealing from General District Court and the judge in your original conviction sentenced you to jail time, then you also have to ask the court for bond when you appeal. You potentially have to sign bond paperwork or have somebody come and bail you out in order for you to be released pending your appeal.
If you are appealing from the Circuit Court – the next court up from General District Court – you are appealing up to the Virginia Court of Appeals and the process is a little more complicated. A person or their Virginia Appeals attorney has 30 days from the date of the final judgment to file an appeal. To file an appeal there are very specific requirements for what you need to put in the notice of appeal and who needs to receive a copy of that. Therefore, it is extremely important to consult an experienced attorney to help make sure that you are filing everything that you need to file within the time limit set by the Virginia court system.
If you miss the filing deadline, it is most likely that your appeal will be rejected, especially when you are appealing to the Virginia Court of Appeals. From the Virginia Court of Appeals, the next step is to appeal up to the Virginia Supreme Court. This appeal has a similar timeline and the process is extremely complicated. Therefore it is important to have a Virginia appeals attorney who can file all the correct paperwork within the correct period.
The number of times you can appeal depends on where your case started. If the case started at the lowest level with a misdemeanor and you are found guilty in the General District Court, then you can appeal once up to Circuit Court. If you are found guilty in Circuit Court, you can petition to the Virginia Court of Appeals to hear your case, but they can decide whether or not they want to hear it. If they decide to hear it, the case is moved up to the Virginia Court of Appeals level. If they reaffirm your guilty finding, then you can appeal up to the Virginia Supreme Court.
Potentially you can appeal your case up to three times after you are found guilty. However, it is extremely unlikely that your case will make it all the way up to the Virginia Supreme Court. It is more likely that you will appeal up to the circuit court level and your case will end there.
When you are appealing from General District Court up to Circuit Court, the most important consideration that you should make is whether or not to have a bench trial or a jury trial. Your appeals attorney in Virginia can explain to you what the risks and what the benefits are of each, but in Virginia, it is important to remember that not only does the jury decide guilt or innocence in your case, but the jury is also able to set the sentence in your case. You should have a talk with your attorney if you are considering appealing about the benefits and the risks associated with a jury trial as opposed to a bench trial in front of a judge.
If you are trying to appeal your case just because you do not like the outcome in Circuit Court, there is a really good chance that your case will not be heard by the Virginia Court of Appeals unless there is a legal issue. It is best to consult with an attorney to decide whether or not appealing up to court of appeals make sense for the specific facts in the outcome of your specific case.
Additionally, you should speak with your attorney about the timelines for filing the appeal in each of the two courts. Filing from General District Court and appealing up to Circuit Court allows only ten days to file and once you have entered your intent to appeal, you might have to pay more cost, so it is important that you speak with your attorney about the timing of withdrawal of your appeal.
If you have entered into a plea agreement with the commonwealth attorney at the General District Court level and have agreed to enter a guilty plea in exchange for a lighter sentence or an exchange for the prosecution dropping some of your charges, you might have also signed a waiver of appeal. This means that you have given up your right to appeal your case. This is something you should discuss with your attorney about as well before entering into a deal with the prosecution at the General District Court level.
It is really important to know how different courts will deal with filing the appeal, so it is important to find an attorney that knows the court system. In criminal and traffic cases, either you or your attorney can sign the notice of appeal, but when you get to the Circuit Court level, every Circuit Court deals with the appeals process differently. Once your appeal is filed, there are some jurisdictions that will schedule a meeting at the Circuit Court to set the court date while some jurisdictions require you to decide while you are filing your appeal whether or not you are going to be asking for a jury trial or a bench trial.
It is important to have an Virginia appeals lawyer that knows not only the appeals process in Virginia, but also the specific process of the court that you are appealing up to and the county that you are in.