Criminal Appeal Attorney
Virginia criminal appeals system is designed to give a second chance to convicted criminals. Virginia’s criminal appellate courts review other courts’ decisions to overturn convictions or improper sentences. Appealing a conviction to the trial court, the Virginia Court of Appeals, the Virginia Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals or the United States Supreme Court gives a person a second chance to prove innocence of the criminal charge.
A criminal appeal may stem from an error in your original case, such as suppressed evidence, a mistake by the prosecution or a questionable decision by the judge. Appeals may also be triggered by a violation of your constitutional rights, including:
Sometimes innocent people are convicted of crimes they did not commit. Even when the judge, jury and prosecution are trying to uphold justice, mistakes happen. If you have been wrongfully convicted, you may be able to pursue an appeal to clear your name.
No matter how strong your case is, the best way to pursue a favorable result is to work with a lawyer experienced in appeals. I have helped many wrongly convicted people mount successful appeals and return their lives to normal.
Appealing a Misdemeanor
One of the most common appeals in the Commonwealth of Virginia is the Misdemeanor Appeal. A good number of Misdemeanor convictions are Appealed to the Circuit Court where the Defendant has a second chance. While newspapers and media companies only seem to focus on Felony Appeals, a Misdemeanor is the most common appeal. Most people never even know they have a right to appeal or what to do to access that right.
If you need an attorney to help you with your Misdemeanor Appeal or Felony Appeal, call us today to find out how we can help you!
Criminal Appeal Lawyer
The Process of a Criminal Appeal
The duration of a Virginia appeal really depends on the case. It can be as short as a few months. There’s a 30-day deadline to petition for appeal from a Circuit Court judgment to the Virginia Court of Appeals. In criminal cases, there is no right to an appeal from the Circuit Court, and the majority of the petitions to the Virginia Court of Appeals are rejected. Therefore, a lot of appeals are completed within that short period of time.
However, whether an appeal will be taken depends mostly on its merits, as presented to the appellate court by the appellate attorney in written form. Obviously, if there is a stronger argument for the appeal, it is more likely to be taken. If it is, it will take more time.
In some cases, such as death penalty cases and class action lawsuits, the appellate process can continue for decades, but most criminal appeals in Virginia are completed within one year.
Virginia Appellate Courts
The Commonwealth of Virginia has two appellate courts: the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Court of Appeals of Virginia. Both courts are error-correcting courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court in Virginia. It is composed of seven Justices, but also has as many as five Senior Justices who may sit when an active Justice cannot. The Supreme Court hears merits arguments in Richmond for multiple day sessions beginning in September, returning approximately every seven weeks until the end of June. Many civil cases decided in Virginia’s trial courts are appealed directly to the Supreme Court. An aggrieved party must file a petition for appeal asking the Court to consider the case. The Supreme Court has discretion to grant or refuse the petition.
The Court of Appeals was established in 1985. It has eleven judges who sit in panels of three in various regions of the State—most usually, Alexandria, Chesapeake, Richmond, and Salem. The Court of Appeals is Virginia’s appellate court of last resort in domestic relations matters, administrative agency decisions, and final decisions of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Civil appeals may be taken from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court of Virginia in extraordinary cases. For an appellate court to entertain an appeal, the alleged error must be preserved in the trial court or agency from which the appeal arises. If objections were not timely made, if proffers of evidence were not made, or if the trial court or agency did not get a chance to rule on the matter, then the appeal may be barred. An appellant must show where in the record below the issue was preserved. Additionally, Virginia’s appellate courts value brevity and clarity–arguments should be made directly and succinctly, without flourish or fanfare.
When Exactly Does The Appellate Process Begin?
While some may view it as the filing of the notice of appeal, the groundwork for an appeal occurs while the case is in the trial court. This is so because Virginia appellate courts, like any appellate court, will not consider an argument for the first time on appeal. The first step in the appellate process, then, is not the filing of the notice of appeal, but preserving the issue in the trial court.
Robert L. Lichtenstein, Esquire
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Post Office Box 1447
Hopewell, VA 23860
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