Ask a Virginia Criminal Lawyer:
Should I Appeal?
Whether or not you are able to appeal a case depends on multiple factors. After talking to a Virginia criminal attorney or a local Ashburn criminal lawyer, you will not only be able to learn why you (or why not) an appeal is possible (or not), but you will be in a better position to understand the legal issues important to the decision to appeal. Here are just a few of the many possible factors:
- what type of case do you want to appeal?
- when was the original case finalized?
- what did the court order?
- have you appealed this case before?
- were any mistakes made, including any deadlines missed?
To find out whether or not an appeal is possible, use our case evaluation form, or call 888.695.6565 or 703.665.3719. It is a better idea to call so you can receive immediate assistance. In Virginia, there are very strict deadlines with regard to the proper notices and petitions.
Appealing a General District Court Criminal Case
Often, our Fairfax criminal defense attorney and Virginia criminal lawyer is consulted by people who want to know whether or not they can improve their lives and circumstances, both legally speaking and not. C
– a note from your local Ashburn, VA Criminal Attorney, Brenton D. Vincenzes –
Sometimes, I have to tell people that they are not able to appeal a case. This is hard, because a criminal record is for life. But often, the reason why a case cannot be appealed is because the person did one or two things wrong.
First, people often wait too long after a conviction to speak to a criminal lawyer about an appeal.
The second thing people do wrong is, they do not hire a lawyer for the original underlying charge. Perhaps it was a class 1 misdemeanor…and the person was found guilty of a seemingly innocuous charge like possession of marijuana in Virginia, a Virginia assault charge, Virginia or Fairfax County reckless driving, and so on.
Depending on the line of work one is engaged in, such records may be particularly troublesome. Although these people never hired a lawyer for the initial case, now they want to know about expungement.
The bad news is, many of these people were found guilty. When a person is found guilty or pleads guilty, they are not allowed to expunge (or seal) the record. But if a person is not found guilty in any way, then expungement is possible.
The moral of the story is to avoid falling into the trap of thinking a misdemeanor is not the type of case for which you need an attorney. Many Northern Virginia criminal defense attorneys will speak with you for free, including ours and our firm.
If you are not happy with the guilty verdict you were handed following a misdemeanor case in general district court, you need to act fast. This refers to the first wrong thing many people do (mentioned above). There are very stringent time requirements, and a lawyer should be called immediately.
For more information about appealing a case from general district court to circuit court, visit our misdemeanor appeals post.
Other Criminal Appeals
The Virginia Constitution, article VI, section 1, tells us about the overall nature of the power or authority of Virginia courts to hear appeals. The Supreme Court of Virginia and subordinate courts of appellate jurisdiction, as established by the General Assembly, have this power.
Circuit Courts hear appeals from the General District Court. Appeals from circuit courts are heard at the Court of Appeals of Virginia. At the top of the ladder is the Supreme Court of Virginia, and of course, the United States Supreme Court. Where your appeal should go next, if you can appeal, is something your Virginia or local Ashburn Criminal Defense Attorney will discuss with you.
For more information about the court structure in Virginia, visit our Virginia courts information page. Or, subscribe to our newsletter for traffic and criminal law tips, news, updates, and interesting cases in Virginia — newsletter is edited by our Fairfax criminal lawyer.
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