If your criminal trial did not end with the results you hoped for, all is not lost. You could file an appeal and ask a higher court to review the proceedings. If they find that an legal or procedural error could have impacted the outcome, your conviction might not stand.
Criminal appeals are complex and require a particular set of skills. Your best chance at achieving a better result is by retaining a seasoned defense attorney with experience handling the appellate process. Contact a NoVa appeals lawyer after your conviction for help through this process.
The law offers very little time to decide to appeal a criminal conviction. The Code of Virginia §8.01–675.3 gives a defendant in a trial court case thirty calendar days to file their notice of appeal. The thirty-day period begins when the trial court enters its sentencing order. The first decision the Court of Appeals makes is whether the appellant raised a valid issue in the petition. If this court decides there is no valid basis for the appeal and the conviction will stand.
A criminal appeal is not a new trial; therefore, an appellate attorney cannot present new witnesses or evidence. Appellate courts defer to lower courts on issues like evaluating the integrity of witnesses or the persuasiveness of evidence. They make their decisions based on the trial record and the legal arguments the appellate attorney presents.
The Court of Appeals will look at the trial court’s procedures and decisions to determine whether there was an error that might have influenced the outcome of the trial and assess the correctness of the lower court’s decisions. If the appellate court agrees that there was an error, it will determine whether the error impacted the fairness of the trial or the verdict.
If the Court of Appeals decides to consider the case, they may hear oral arguments. During this process, attorneys for both sides have a set time to summarize their arguments and answer the judges’ questions. The court will then consider the written briefs and oral presentations and issue a written decision. The decision typically comes within a few weeks of the oral arguments.
There are three possible results of an appeal. The Court of Appeals could overturn the conviction and order a new trial, send the case back to the lower court for further proceedings, or uphold the conviction. If the appellate court upholds the conviction and the individual is incarcerated, they could then appeal that order to the Virginia Supreme Court. A lawyer in NoVa could help an accused individual through the appeals process.
A criminal appeal is an argument that a criminal conviction resulted from unfair decisions or actions at trial that prejudiced the case. They often hinge on technical interpretations of the law.
For example, a NoVa attorney might argue in an appeal that a trial judge allowed a prosecutor to present evidence that should have been excluded. The rules of evidence are complex, and subtle distinctions sometimes determine whether or not a jury should see certain evidence. Trial judges often err on nuanced evidentiary questions, and that could form the basis of an appeal. Similarly, an appellant might argue that the evidence presented was insufficient to establish an element of the crime.
Constitutional arguments also could be presented in an appeal petition. If the police violated the appellant’s rights, their attorney was incompetent, or the trial was not fair for some reason, these could be grounds for a successful appeal.
Criminal defendants have the right to a fair trial. Mistakes in police work, evidence gathering, jury selection, and trial procedures could have an impact on the fairness of the proceedings. When a mistake affects the outcome, the defendant has the right to an appeal. If you want to challenge a criminal conviction, work with one of our experienced NoVa appeals lawyers. You have only a brief time to act, so schedule a consultation as soon as possible.
Do not send us confidential information related to you or your company until you speak with one of our attorneys and get authorization to send that information to us.