Every attorney wants to win their case for their client. Every judge wants to make certain justice is delivered and the law is followed to the letter. Yet no one is infallible. Legal professionals can and do make mistakes in judgment and errors in practice. Hopefully, such mistakes will be minimal and nonconsequential, but they can potentially lead to a false or unjust conviction.
When a defendant in a criminal case is convicted under questionable circumstances, it might be possible to challenge the outcome with a criminal appeal. Put into simple terms, a criminal appeal is a post-judgment motion that asks a higher court to review the decisions of a lower court. Each state has a series of courts – beginning at local or county levels and escalating up to the state’s Supreme Court, which is then overseen by the United States Supreme Court – that handle appeals regarding the next lower court. It is a judicial chain that creates the opportunity to appeal a questionable court decision several times, potentially improving or changing the law not only for you but for everyone else.
Here are some basics of criminal appeals you should know:
- Only the defendant can file an appeal after a verdict. The Commonwealth may appeal some pre-trial decisions in a criminal case but may not appeal a verdict of “not guilty.”
- Appeals should be filed when you can demonstrate a clerical or judicial error that actually influenced the outcome of the trial.
- Appeals in Circuit Court cases should never be filed simply if you disagree with a case’s outcome – the Court of Appeals of Virginia and the Supreme Court of Virginia do not overturn verdicts just because they may agree with you; you must demonstrate that the trial court made an error of law that affected the outcome of your case.
- An appeal can result in dismissal of charges, remand for new trial, or remand for a lower court to reconsider its own ruling.
- In virtually every appeals case, you are not permitted to present new evidence. In some cases your lawyer can make new arguments, but not in every case.
Furthermore, criminal appeals are controlled by strict timetables. Failing to file an appeal before the time limit expires can make it impossible to seek justice through an appeal.
How Can You File a Criminal Appeal?
Have you been convicted of a criminal violation but you suspect some sort of error played a significant role in your conviction? You should consider if or how you can file a criminal appeal to set things right.
My name is Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law, and I can help you determine if a criminal appeal is an option for your case. As a Fredericksburg criminal defense and appellate attorney with more than thirteen years of legal experience, I have become well-versed in appellate law and the appellate courts throughout Virginia. You can trust in me and my team of dedicated legal professionals when you need to create a criminal appeal.
Would you like to know more? You can contact me to schedule a free, no-obligation meeting, during which we can discuss your legal options.