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Prince William County Post-Convictions and Appeals

The Prince William County post-convictions and appeals processes are nothing something to be taken lightly. Especially for those with a security clearance, the consequences of a failure to overturn a conviction could have long-lasting and life-altering consequences. Because of this, alleged offenders and people convicted to crimes need to take all steps within their power to preserve their ways of life. This includes contacting a respected criminal defense lawyer who could help you by filing an appeal to possibly overturn a conviction.

How the Appeals System Works in Prince William County

Virginia courts and courts in Prince William County have a multi-tiered system. There are the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Court of Appeals of Virginia which are above the Prince William County courts. Prince William County itself has two levels of courts, the District Court and the Circuit Court.

Most cases often originate at the district court level, and decisions on misdemeanor cases in general district court could be appealed to the circuit court in Prince William County. Likewise, cases that originate in the juvenile domestic relations court in Prince William County, such as an assault on a family member, could be appealed from the juvenile and domestic relations court in Prince William County to the county’s circuit court. Appeals from the circuit court are a different matter, but everyone who has a case or who is found guilty in general district court or in juvenile and domestic relations court in Prince William County has a right to appeal that decision to the circuit court as long as their appeal is properly noted in time, within ten days or less.

When A Person May File an Appeal

An appeal from a decision in a case in general district court or in juvenile and domestic relations court has to be “noted” with the clerk within 10 days of the date of the conviction. A person may file their appeal immediately by letting the judge in Prince William County know that they want to appeal that judge’s decision, or they may appeal by appearing at the clerk’s office before the deadline.

How Many Times Could a Person Appeal Their Case?

A case may only be appealed from the juvenile and domestic relations court or from general district court in Prince William County to the circuit court once, but after the circuit court has rendered a decision, some cases may be appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia or the Court of Appeals of Virginia, if there are errors at the trial level. An appeals lawyer in Prince William County could help people make sure their one attempt at lower level appeals is done right.

How an Attorney Files an Appeal in Prince William County

When appealing a decision from the general district court of Prince William County or the juvenile and domestic relations court, an attorney would note an appeal with the judge who rendered the decision if the attorney knows at that time that the client wishes to appeal. If the client has not made the decision to appeal at that time, but later decides to appeal the decision within 10 days, the attorney would appear at the clerk’s office to file paperwork to note the appeal to the circuit court of Prince William County.

Important Considerations when Appealing a Verdict

There are several important considerations to make when deciding whether to appeal a case. The first decision is obviously the penalty rendered by the judge and the likelihood of receiving a better outcome after appealing. It is also important to consider the possibility of exercising the right to have a jury trial on appeal or whether it would be best in a specific case to avoid a jury trial, or possibly to avoid an appeal altogether.

It is also important to consider the increased costs in circuit court. In circuit court, the court costs are much higher than in general district court and juvenile and domestic relations court, and in circuit court, there are several additional costs that clients could be liable for if they are found guilty, such as a jury trial cost. One final consideration that should be made by people considering an appeal of a misdemeanor decision to a circuit court judge is the likelihood of receiving stricter supervision from circuit court probation if found guilty in circuit court.

Circumstances Under Which an Appeal Could Be Denied

When an individual appeals a case from either the general district court in Prince William County or the juvenile and domestic relations court, they are appealing the court’s decision regarding a conviction for a misdemeanor charge. The circuit court in Prince William County rarely denies the right to appeal. Instead, it starts a brand new case and looks at the case from the beginning.

Appealing a decision from the circuit court to the court of appeals is a different situation entirely, and requires a petition. The court of appeals could determine whether it wants to grant the petition just to appeal the decision in the first place, and it applies strict criteria.

How a Criminal Charge Could Affect a Person’s Security Clearance

A criminal charge or a conviction could affect a security clearance in a couple of ways. Prior to receiving a clearance, or prior to a renewal of a security clearance, some criminal convictions could slow down the authorization process or put an end to it all together by making someone ineligible. That is not the case for most offenses, especially lower-level offenses such as reckless driving and, in most cases, even driving under the influence.

In all cases in which an individual holds a security clearance, they are required to report convictions to their supervisor. For many individuals, their reporting requirements are much more stringent because of an agreement they have with their employer. Although employer agreements are different for every employer and there is no way for an attorney to know what those requirements may be for any particular client, it is almost universally required that a conviction for an offense be reported to supervisors, and that often starts inquiries.

The main thing that causes problems with security clearances is any type of conviction that shows a pattern of behavior or something that might compromise integrity or honesty. Most misdemeanor convictions regarding reckless driving or even drunk in public or driving under the influence wouldn’t raise the same level of concern as a crime involving the use of hard drugs or involving some real dishonesty. Those might lead the government to have concerns about one’s trustworthiness with classified information.

Although any type of criminal conviction should be a concern for anyone holding a security clearance, a criminal conviction does not necessarily make an individual ineligible for it. And, if someone holds a security clearance, they should hire an attorney if they face any type of criminal charge.

Worrisome Charges for People with a Security Clearance

Some of the charges that might be more worrisome for someone who is a holder of a security clearance would involve solicitation of prostitution or some other crime or crimes involving theft or use of hard drugs. Any of them may indicate that an individual is susceptible to blackmail or extortion.

How a Client Possessing a Security Clearance Changes the Way an Attorney Handles a Case

Knowing that a client has a security clearance would affect the way a case is approached because it would affect the ultimate outcomes that are acceptable and desirable to the client. Someone who has a security clearance in particular cases may have higher stakes. If they are in a position in which they are trying to impress upon the prosecutor who is assigned to their case that they are doing everything they could to show that they are sorry, someone with a security clearance may want to go that extra mile and put more effort into preparing their case.

It is also beneficial in many cases to discuss with the prosecutors the client’s concerns. When one of those concerns is a security clearance, it is helpful for some prosecutors to have that information and weigh other ways that their concerns can be addressed while also addressing the concerns of the client.

How an Attorney Could Advise Someone Worried About Their Clearance

An attorney would advise someone who is concerned about the status of their security clearance to review all of their disclosure and reporting requirements to make sure they are complying with all of the requirements of their employer. Also, an attorney would advise that the person go above and beyond to prepare for their case in the best way possible. Most importantly, it is important that someone who is concerned about their security clearance approach their defense in the best way possible and not carelessly waive any of their rights concerning their defense.

Contact an Appeals Attorney in Prince William County Immediately

The Prince William County post-conviction and appeals process is something that must be done by an experienced attorney. Not only are there a limited number of times someone might appeal a verdict, but there may be no chances beyond those attempts. Because of this, it is critical for you to ensure that you have an experienced attorney working to preserve your rights and best interests in court. Reach out to an attorney today.


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