If you believe your felony conviction was issued erroneously, you may have the right to an appeal. It is vital that you understand exactly what an appeal is and how Virginia courts operate in regard to this legal matter. Just because you are dissatisfied with a conviction, your case may not automatically qualify for an appeal. An appeal must be based on demonstrable legal errors on the record that show a violation of your rights or that your case was somehow otherwise mishandled during the circuit court trial.
I am Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law, and I am an appellate attorney in Fredericksburg who has more than a decade of experience in handling all types of criminal matters, including appeals of court decisions. As your attorney, I can review your case through meticulous research to determine if you have the proper grounds for an appeal to the higher court. Should I believe that you do, I can prepare the petition needed and file it on your behalf with the court.
What Are the Bases for A Petition for Appeal?
During the appeal, you will not be given a new trial. New evidence or new witness testimony is generally not acceptable. An appeal is based on legal errors made by the trial court. Thus, the appellate judges’ job is to review arguments presented about these errors to determine if they were valid and if so, they were significant enough to cast doubt on the decision that was made by the lower court.
It is your appellate attorney’s job to bring arguments before the appellate court that support the fact that such errors and violations occurred. This is done through both written briefs and sometimes in oral arguments before the court. These arguments must be prepared by an intensive review of applicable case law and legal effort. Success depends on an attorney’s ability to present such arguments convincingly.
Violations of your rights or procedural errors that may justify an appeal can include:
- Legal errors such as evidence that should not have been admitted
- Poor or wrong instructions given to jurors
- Lack of sufficient evidence to convict you of the offense
Potential Decisions by A Virginia Appellate Court
After reviewing your appeal petition, the appellate court has the following options:
- Refuse the petition and leave in place the original decision of the lower court. Unfortunately, this is a common conclusion to many appeal cases. If the appellate court decides no significant errors or misconduct occurred in your original trial, you will lose on appeal.
- Remand your case back down to the lower court. This will be done so that the lower court can reconsider the case in light of what the appellate court has ruled. It can mean that the lower court has made mistakes that need to be corrected. The appellate court does not make a new decision of the verdict on the case; that is still the job of the lower court.
- Reverse the final verdict and return it to the lower court for a new trial. This means that your conviction has been reversed by the appellate court because it has been found to be unjust. However, this does not mean you have been absolved of the charges against you. It means those charges will be taken up again at trial.
- Reverse the final verdict and dismiss the charge(s). Under certain circumstances, the appellate court can end the prosecution against you. For example, if the appellate court determines that you received a fair trial without significant errors, but that the evidence was not sufficient to convict you, the appellate court will dismiss the charge.
Want to Learn More About Appealing? Call Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law
Appeal cases are difficult and complex proceedings. They are also subject to time restrictions that will depend on which court held your trial. While General District Courts let you appeal virtually anything, you have 10 days to file your appeal with the clerk of that court. Appeals from a Circuit Court as we are discussing here must be commenced within 30 days from the final order date in a case.
My firm stands ready to help you with your appeal in any criminal case, such as those involving charges based on drugs, theft, sex offenses, or violent crimes. I can determine whether you still have the option for an appeal and, if you do, the next steps that must be taken to proceed.
Contact my firm at (540) 827-4446 or through the online request form for a free consultation today.