Appealing a Virginia DUI Case
There are many factors to consider when it comes to appealing a Virginia DUI case. When facing the need to make that decision, it is best to work with a qualified lawyer who has experience in appeals and can provide insights as to the likely outcome as well as work to reach the best result possible.
Elements of an Appeal
Appealing to circuit court essentially means getting a second bite at the apple. It is a process whereby the person gets to start from the beginning and try again to get the case dismissed.
The virtue of having a second opportunity to do that is that the person would have already had one experience at trial, will know what evidence is going to present, and will know what their witnesses are going to say particularly under cross-examination, and prepare accordingly.
In some cases, the person will be able to either fix any errors that were made in the first trial or use different strategies and tactics in light of the new information that they learned during the trial process.
Reasons to Appeal
Any time that a person is convicted of a misdemeanor DUI, they have an absolute right to appeal that decision to the circuit court in the same county. It is what is called a trial de novo in Virginia, which means that the prior case and the prior conviction are completely wiped out and the person starts over from the beginning as though that first conviction had never happened taken place.
If a person is convicted of a felony DUI or they have benn convicted again of a misdemeanor DUI when appealing a Virginia DUI case in circuit court, then the person has the ability to appeal that decision to the Virginia Court of Appeals and ultimately to the Virginia Supreme Court.
Basis for Filing an Appeal
In case of appealing a Virginia DUI case, the person will need to be able to articulate to the appellate court that there was some defect in the process that occurred. For example, if a judge allowed evidence into trial that should have been excluded, or excluded evidence that should have been let in, these are bases for appealing a Virginia DUI case.
There are many other things that can be done incorrectly in the course of a trial that will provide a basis for appeal, which may cause an appellate court to order that the person have a new trial. This is something that, if a person is convicted, they should review with an attorney to determine whether it is a possibility in their case.
Important Things to Know
The first thing a person should know about DUI cases in Virginia is that they are all serious. Every one of them comes with serious consequences including the loss of driving privileges, fines, and, in many cases, active jail time.
The second thing people should know, however, is that just because a person is charged with DUI does not mean they are going to be found guilty of DUI. By the same token, if the person is charged with a second or third offense, it does not necessarily mean the person is going to be convicted as they are charged.
There are a number of ways the police can make mistakes during the arrest process. These can benefit the person in ways that will cause the case to be dismissed or the charges to be reduced. Such errors can allow a perceptive attorney to be able to exclude evidence at trial, again, leading to either dismissal or a reduction in the charge.
How an Attorney Can Affect the Outcome
Someone considering appealing a Virginia DUI case would be wise to hire an attorney as a practical matter. While there is no legal requirement that a person uses counsel, these are the cases not only where an attorney is needed because of the seriousness of it but it is also the kind of case where an experienced attorney can make a significant difference in the right case.
It is certainly worth the time and money to invest in an experienced lawyer to try to help the person beat the case or, at the minimum, soften the consequences and guide the person through the process. A qualified attorney will be experienced in the process of appealing a Virginia DUI case, and will, therefore, be your strongest ally in your search for justice.