As a Virginia criminal lawyer, I often receive calls from people with questions about their cases, like “What should I do if I missed my court date?” or “What should I do if I went to court without a lawyer and got a bad result?” The first thing an experienced lawyer will do is to review the file to find out what happened in court. In many cases, a judge may find someone guilty upon trying them in their absence. If that happened to you, an experienced Virginia criminal lawyer knows there are still options available to try to improve the case result.
In Fairfax, anyone who has been convicted of a crime or traffic offense has the right to appeal, even if they were present in court the first time. The appeal must be filed in writing within 10 days (calendar, not business days) of the conviction, and when you file your appeal, you will receive a new trial in Circuit Court in front of a new judge.
If you are interested in filing an appeal, you should meet with a lawyer first. While filing an appeal can be a great way to improve the result of your case, it is a very complex procedure that requires familiarity with the law and courtroom procedures.
An appeal is a completely new trial, upon which the initial trial has no bearing whatsoever. With that in mind, the appeal can go better or worse than the previous case, potentially resulting in higher fines or jail time. Additionally, Circuit Courts are far more formal than General District Courts; judges often require defendants to be familiar with courtroom procedures, rarely giving them special treatment because they aren’t lawyers.
Faraji Rosenthall has handled hundreds of Virginia appeal cases, and can tell you ahead of time if filing an appeal in your case makes sense. If so, we can guide you through the entire process, striving for a better result, if possible, than your original trial.
If you are considering filing a Virginia appeal, give us a call to discuss your options.