Misdemeanor Appeals F.A.Q.

Requesting an Appeal from a Misdemeanor or Traffic Conviction
Hiring an Attorney
What to Expect in Circuit Court
Continuance Requests
Requesting a Jury
Costs if you are convicted in Circuit Court
What Happens if you Fail to Appear on the Day of Your Appeal
Withdrawing a Misdemeanor Appeal

Download/Print Appeal Withdrawal Request Form

Requesting an Appeal from a Misdemeanor or Traffic Conviction

  1. Defendants who have been found guilty of a misdemeanor or traffic offense may file a Notice of Appeal form with the Rockbridge County General District Court within 10 days after their original conviction. The notice of appeal results in a stay of the lower court sentence and moves the case to Rockbridge County Circuit Court. Please note that filing for an appeal automatically incurs Circuit Court fees (currently $80 for most bench trial cases), unless the appeal is withdrawn during that 10 day period.  After 10 days, even if your appeal is withdrawn, you will still be required to pay the Circuit Court fee on top of whatever fines, fees or penalties were imposed in District Court.

Attorney 

  1. If you want a lawyer, you should hire one at once. The Circuit Court Judge may not grant you a continuance at the last minute so that you can retain a lawyer or so that your lawyer has time to prepare.
  2. If you are charged with a jailable offense, and you meet the statutory financial requirements, a Court Appointed Attorney may be appointed to represent you. However, if you are found guilty of the offense, or if the evidence is sufficient to convict you, then you will be assessed fees for the Court Appointed Attorney in addition to court costs and any fine or restitution you might be ordered to pay.

Your Day in Circuit Court

  1. Misdemeanor appeals cases (other than jury trials) are generally scheduled on the first Wednesday of each month. Your case will be scheduled by the Circuit Court Clerk either at 9:30 am or 1:00 pm on the day of Court.
  2. All cases are different, but you should be aware that most appealed cases do not result in a more lenient sentence/penalty/fine than was imposed in the lower court, and may in fact result in a more severe disposition. The Circuit Court Judge is not limited by the disposition of the General District Court.

Continuance Requests 

  1. A first continuance request may be granted to either the Commonwealth or the Defendant for compelling reasons such as illness, unavailability of a witness, etc. If you require a first continuance you must contact the Rockbridge County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office at 540-463-7337 at least five business days prior to your originally scheduled court date. They can assist you in preparing a valid continuance motion/order for submission to the court. A continuance will not be granted because of the unavailability of a witness if service has not been made or attempted on that witness.
  2. If you are represented by an attorney, continuance requests (and any communications with the Commonwealth’s Attorney) must be made through your attorney.
  3. Second continuance requests are very rarely granted.

Requesting a Jury 

  1. You have the right to a jury trial in Circuit Court in any misdemeanor case, traffic infraction, and certain summary or criminal contempt cases (in addition to felony charges). At the time of filing a notice of appeal you may request that your case be heard by a jury rather than the judge. If you are found guilty of one or more charges, you will incur additional costs. (In 2017, $30 for every prospective jury member who appears for jury duty on the day of your trial; Ex. $30 x 25 prospective jurors = $750).

Costs if you are convicted in Circuit Court

  1. Additional costs may include:
  • Minimum additional court costs will be $80.00. Court costs may be higher for DWIs, drug cases and cases with jail time imposed.
  • Cost of a jury..
  • Court Appointed Attorney fees.
  1. You will need to see the Clerk about payment options and deadlines for paying your court costs and fines, restitution, etc.
  2. Failure to pay fines and costs before the deadline will result in the suspension of your drivers’ license and your case may be referred to a collection agent.
  3. Failure to pay fines and costs may result in your having to return to Court to explain your failure to pay.

Failure to Appear 

  1. If you fail to appear in the Circuit Court for your appeal, you may be tried in your absence or a separate warrant may be issued for your arrest.

Withdrawing a Misdemeanor Appeal

  1. If you have filed a Notice of Appeal with the District Court and later decide to withdraw your case, you must do so either via request letter with your notarized original signature [a form for this purpose may be downloaded from www.lexrockca.net/appeals], or in person at the Rockbridge County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, 20 S. Randolph St Suite #101, Lexington, VA 24450.
  2. At the time of withdrawal, the sentence originally imposed in the District Court will be affirmed. You must pay all fines and costs, serve any jail time imposed and surrender your driver’s license if required immediately upon withdrawing your appeal.