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Understanding the appeals process

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2024 | Criminal Appeals |

If you have a wrongful conviction for a crime in Virginia, you may have the option to pursue an appeal to have your conviction overturned. The appeals process can be stressful and time-consuming, so it’s important that you prepare yourself with knowledge of how the process works and understand how to approach the process. While an appeal is not a sure thing, for some people, it’s the first step in getting their lives back in order after a conviction.  

Understanding the Court of Appeals 

The Court of Appeals does not retry cases or preside over trials. There are no witnesses, evidence or juries present. When one initiates an appeal, the three-judge panel will review the written transcripts of your case. They are looking for information that could indicate a legal error made during your case. If they determine that there was a legal error, your case may go forward and the court may retry it.  

The Court of Appeals must accept all appeals received. The three judges on the panel rotate regularly and receive cases at random. Having three judges prevents a tied ruling. The Court of Appeals hears civil and criminal cases. The court has the authority to issue writs of actual innocence based on non-biological evidence when petitioned by someone convicted of a felony.  

The appeals process 

The first step is filing a notice of appeal with the clerk of the circuit court where your conviction happened. You must file the notice within 30 days of the final judgment in your case. Within 10 days of filing your appeal notice, you must pay a $50 filing fee. In some situations, the court will waive the filing fee. An opening brief is due within 40 days of the court receiving the appeal notice. 

The entire appeals process can take at least 12 months or longer from the time you first file the notice. Once the court reaches a decision, you can find the information on the Court’s website. If you feel that the Court of Appeals ruled wrongly in your case, you do have the option to further appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court. 

Help with an appeal   

The appeals process is not a quick and easy one, which is why you need someone knowledgeable in your corner to provide legal assistance. The circumstances surrounding your case and conviction determine how best to approach the appeals process. Working with someone who has experience in helping individuals in Virginia appeal a wrongful conviction can provide you with the guidance you need to proceed forward on the path to getting your life back on track.