If you’re convicted of committing a crime in Virginia, you face harsh penalties, including a lengthy prison or jail sentence and a hefty fine. In addition, you will have a permanent criminal record that could have long-term consequences in your life.
You may have options to get your conviction overturned. When deciding on your steps in your criminal case, you need to understand your right to file an appeal. You should also consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer who can advise you on whether you have grounds to file an appeal.
How Long Do You Have to File an Appeal of a Misdemeanor or Juvenile Offense?
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor offense (such as reckless driving or DUI) in General District Court or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, you only have a short time to file an appeal. You only have ten days from the date of your conviction to file an appeal to the Circuit Court.
How Long Do You Have to Appeal a Conviction in Circuit Court?
You have a more extended period to appeal a conviction in Circuit Court. You would have 30 days from the date of your conviction to file an appeal to the Court of Appeals. While you may be able to ask for an extension, there is no guarantee that your request will be granted, so it is best to file your appeal within the 30-day deadline.
Grounds for Filing an Appeal in Virginia
In misdemeanor cases decided in District Court, you have an automatic right to file an appeal to Circuit Court. Once your request is filed, your case would start over, and you would have the right to decide whether you want your case decided by the judge or jury.
To appeal a Circuit Court conviction, you need valid grounds to file your appeal. Being dissatisfied with the verdict is not a good reason to justify a request. Even if the judge made a mistake in your case, you could only appeal the decision if it impacted the outcome of your criminal case.
Here are common reasons that you may be able to use to justify your appeal:
- Evidence was improperly admitted or excluded in your criminal case.
- The judge made a mistake in the jury instructions on how to decide the verdict.
- There is evidence of one or more jurors’ misconduct.
- Your attorney was ineffective or incompetent in defending you. (This is a common reason for filing an appeal.)
- The judge made an obvious factual error.
- The judge made an error in applying the law in your criminal case.
- There was insufficient evidence to support your conviction.
- Your sentence did not comply with Virginia law.
What Are the Possible Outcomes of an Appeal?
When deciding whether it is worth it to file an appeal, you need to understand the possible outcomes in your case. Here is what could happen:
- Affirm the conviction. If the Court of Appeals disagrees that your trial was unfair or a mistake was made, they could affirm your conviction. At this point, you may have the right to file an additional appeal to the Supreme Court.
- Remand your case. The Court of Appeals could send your case back to Circuit Court for additional proceedings on issues where the judges believed a mistake was made.
- Reverse the conviction. If your appeal is successful, the judges could reverse your conviction and order a new trial in Circuit Court.
- Dismissal of your case. It is unlikely that your criminal case would be dismissed on appeal unless the Court of Appeals found insufficient evidence to convict you.
Do you have questions about your right to appeal your conviction in Virginia? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are here to explain your options to you and to file your appeal if this is in your best interests. Call our office at 888-DUI-LWYR or contact us online today to schedule your free initial consultation.