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What is a District Court Appeal?

Any defendant who pleads guilty or is found guilty of a misdemeanor crime after a trial in District Court, has the right to appeal the conviction in Circuit Court.  The defendant cannot be tried for a more severe offense in Circuit Court than what they were convicted of in District Court.

What are the Timelines for Filing an Appeal?

An appeal must be filed with 10 days of the date of the conviction in District Court by notifying the court of the intent to appeal.

An appeal can be withdrawn at any time, prior to the appeal being heard in Circuit Court.  If the appeal to Circuit Court is withdrawn within 10 days of the District Court conviction, the sentence handed down by the District Court will stand.  However, if the withdrawal is done more than 10 days after conviction, the Circuit Court will hand down a sentence and the defendant may have to pay Circuit Court costs, including potential jury costs.

What Evidence is Used in an Appeal?

While the plea that was entered in District Court cannot be used against the defendant in an appeal, any evidence provided by the defendant in District Court can be used in Circuit Court.

Can an Appeal affect a Plea Bargain on a Felony Amended to a Misdemeanor?

Any plea bargain entered into in District Court which amends a felony to a misdemeanor is null and void on an appeal.  Therefore, appealing the conviction of a misdemeanor in District Court will be refiled by the Commonwealth as a felony in Circuit Court.

Can a Circuit Court Sentence on an Appeal Vary from the District Court Sentence?

The Circuit Court is not required to issue the same sentence for an appeal as the District Court issued for the original hearing.  The Circuit Court has the ability to issue a sentence that is lower, the same, or higher than what the District Court handed down.

Why Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney if Appealing a District Court Conviction?

Having the assistance and knowledge of an experienced defense attorney can greatly increase your chances of having a successful appeal, including:

  • Developing effective constitutional challenges to arrests, searches and evidentiary issues.
  • Making the Commonwealth prove the elements of the offense.
  • Raising doubt about the intent to commit the offense (the mental element).
  • Filing motions to suppress and witness subpoenas.
  • Seeking a positive outcome that will allow you to seek a criminal record expungement of the charge(s).

The Law Firm of Susan F. Fremit is successful in appealing District Court convictions.  Click here to see Susan’s recent track record.

What Do I Do Now?

If you received a serious criminal or traffic conviction in Alexandria,Caroline, Culpeper, Essex, Fairfax, Fluvanna, Fredericksburg, Goochland, Hanover, King George, Lancaster, Louisa, Northumberland, Richmond County, Orange, Spotsylvania, Stafford, or Westmoreland, Virginia, contact Susan F. Fremit, P.C. now for a free consultation to discuss your options for appeal.


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