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If a criminal case does not go your way, you do not have to simply accept a bad outcome. In fact, there is a very specific set of procedures and guidelines in place to help individuals in just this situation. A Virginia appeals lawyer can provide you with legal advice about whether you can appeal the outcome of your criminal case and can represent you during the appellate process. Call and schedule a consultation with a Virginia criminal lawyer today to learn more.
Following an unsatisfactory case outcome, many clients make the decision to appeal. Basically, an appeal means that you ask a higher court to consider setting aside the decision made by the lower court. When an appeal is filed, the court can either send the case back for a new trial, uphold the decision made, or reverse the outcome of the case.
Before filing an appeal, your trial attorney must make sure to preserve the record during your trial to make sure an appeal is possible further down the line.
There are many different grounds for appeal—from an argument that the wrong jury instructions were given to a claim you had ineffective counsel in your first criminal trial. However, in order for you to successfully appeal, there must have been some problem, mistake, or legal error with the way the prior proceedings went. An appellate court isn’t just going to substitute their own reasoning or decisions on facts for the judgment made by the jury, but the appellate court will take action on certain bad decisions that can be shown to have affected your case.
Appeals are very complicated because you need to identify all of the specific technical problems that occurred in your lower court case, and you need to make strong and compelling arguments about why the appeals court should act. You need to speak with a Virginia appeals attorney who has experience appealing cases in your jurisdiction if you want to maximize your chances at success during this legal process.
If you identify grounds for appeal, you must file a petition for appeal. You have a limited period of time in which to appeal a decision, so it’s important to act quickly. The decision about your case is going to be made based on the appellate brief submitted to the court, as well as based on information presented in a legal argument made by your attorney.
Unlike in your first case, there are no witnesses or evidence presented—the entire strength of your case is determined by the arguments made by your attorney and the law you provide to back up those arguments. The Virginia Court of Appeals hears appeals from the circuit courts. Should you decide to appeal a decision from the circuit courts, it will be helpful to understand what the case process looks like and how to approach it..
The court will review your petition for appeal, as well as any opposition filed by the government. If your Virginia appeals attorney chooses to submit a written reply to the government’s opposition, the matter will then be referred to a judge on the court who will determine whether or not to take the appeal. If no written reply is submitted, the matter will be scheduled for oral argument in front of that judge. If the judge denies the appeal, your attorney can request that a “writ panel” of three judges review the decision.
If any of those three judges agrees to hear the appeal, the appeal is granted. If all three judges on the writ panel agree to deny the appeal, the appeal is denied. If the judge or the writ panel grants the appeal, it proceeds to a panel of three judges of the court, to whom both parties direct their written briefs. Oral argument can be requested, but is not required.
If you are still not satisfied with the outcome at the conclusion of the appeal, you can appeal again to the Supreme Court of Virginia. However, the Supreme Court takes only a limited number of cases, so there is no guarantee you will have the chance to overturn a decision you believe is a bad one.
The stakes are high when filing a motion to appeal your case outcome. In a situation where speed and accuracy are extremely important, it’s crucial to work with an experienced local attorney who truly understands the Virginia appeals process. Someone who has experience dealing with appeals will provide added benefit to your appeals process. He or she will be able to provide much needed information on the process and explain to a client what certain terms, like de novo, mean. If you run into any issues in your appeals case, having an experienced and knowledgeable appeals attorney by your side will be beneficial in helping you navigate the complexity of the case.
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