Henrico County Court System
The Henrico court system is very straightforward. You have the general district court and circuit court, which are actually located in the same building at the Henrico Government Center. The general district court hears misdemeanor cases as well as preliminary hearings on felony cases. Misdemeanor cases are tried in the general district court, typically 60 to 90 days from the date you’re originally charged. If it’s a felony case, there is a preliminary hearing that is done in general district court to determine if there’s probable cause, then the charge is certified or brought before grand jury. If a true bill is issued, then it goes to circuit court where it is finalized either before a judge or a jury.
Appealing a Criminal Case
At general district court, there is an automatic ten-day right of appeal. With circuit court, you can’t appeal by right once in circuit court. You have to petition then to the Court of Appeals, and it’s not just a matter of disagreeing with the opinion. In order to get a case granted by the Court of Appeals, you need to show that there was some sort of procedural error or something that was done incorrectly by the court. The biggest issue with that is obviously the court system can be intimidating, but also it moves very fast.
The appeal system in Henrico is much the same throughout the rest of Virginia. With a misdemeanor charge or a matter that’s finalized in general district court, there is an automatic right of appeal. In other words, you don’t have to have any specific reason other than that you want to appeal. You have 10 calendar days from the date of appeal to do that, and you would file your request for the appeal with the court’s office. You can do that or your attorney can do that.
Appealing a Felony Case
With a felony case or a matter that’s tried in circuit court, you can appeal it; however, it’s not an automatic right of appeal. You can appeal a matter to the Court of Appeals using what’s called a petition to appeal. You have to cite a procedural error or error in law by the circuit court, and then the Court of Appeals would review the petition to determine if there were grounds for appeal. Appealing to the Court of Appeals can actually be fairly difficult. You can do it on your own, and/or an attorney can do that on your behalf.
Important Things To Consider Before Appealing
One important consideration when taking about appealing is determining if it’s in your best stage or in other words, are you going to get a better outcome. In many cases, with general district court or misdemeanor matters, an individual will appeal it just because they didn’t like the outcome. In some cases, the case when it goes to circuit court, it’s tried what’s called de novo. In other words it’s tried all over again. The judges in circuit court can actually impose a harsher punishment than the general district court did. You need to take that in consideration, but in addition to that, you also need to understand that court costs appealing escalate, and attorney’s fees can escalate as well.