If you have been convicted of reckless driving in Virginia, you may be wondering how you can appeal your reckless driving charge.
You have a right to appeal a reckless driving conviction. A reckless driving charge is a Class 1 Misdemeanor under Virginia law. It carriers a penalty up to twelve (12) months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500, plus court costs. Depending on the circumstances, you might a fine, or a jail sentence, or both. That’s why it is important to protect your rights at every step and work to prepare a defense. If you are found guilty, then you may be able to file an appeal for your reckless driving charge.
Here’s how it works. When you are charged with reckless driving, your case starts in the District Court. If you plead not guilty, then the court will consider evidence from you, the officer, and any witnesses. Then, if the prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the charge of reckless driving, you may be found guilty. But don’t worry – you have a right to appeal your reckless driving conviction and get a new trial.
You must file your appeal from the district court within 10 days of trial. That’s a really critical point. You cannot delay your appeal of reckless driving if you want a new trial. You must act now. A reckless driving lawyer in Virginia can review your case, and notice an appeal within the 10-day deadline.
After you file an appeal, you will have an opportunity for a new trial in the Circuit Court. Unlike the district court, where the judge heard your case in a bench trial, the circuit court allows you to choose between a bench trial or a jury trial. Everything starts over new. It is called a “de novo trial.” The prosecutor must present their evidence and meet their burden of beyond a reasonable doubt. If they fail to meet their burden, you can be found not guilty, even though your were convicted in the district court. Essentially, it is a second bite at the apple. Even if you lose in district court, you can prevail in your reckless driving case in circuit court.
One last step. What if you are convicted in district court and in circuit court? From here, you will need to file an appeal in the Virginia Court of Appeals. Unlike the “de novo trial,” you do not automatically get a new trial when you appeal to the Virginia Court of Appeals. Instead, you have to be able to show that the Circuit Court committed some sort of legal error in your reckless driving case in order to get the conviction reversed. It is more difficult to prevail in an appeal to the Virginia Court of Appeals, but a reckless driving lawyer in Virginia can review your case and let you know if your appeal might be successful.
Do you need to appeal your reckless driving conviction? Contact a reckless driving lawyer in Virginia to handle your appeal. You have to comply with certain deadlines, so do not delay.