Most cases are not appealed. There are two main reasons for this.

First, the losing party often does not have a right to have an appeal heard. It takes more than just being unhappy with the result; there must be some legal basis for the appeal, and the appellate court must deem that issue worthy of consideration. In 2017, the Virginia Court of Appeals actually heard only about 10% of all appeals requested. The Virginia Supreme Court heard even fewer cases.

Second, even if the court agrees to hear the appeal, chances of success are very low. No one should ever rely on winning an appeal. This is why trials are so important.


All too often, poor preparation for trial causes an unjust outcome. Appeals in Virginia are very difficult to win and should not be counted on when formulating a trial strategy. However, if presented with the right issue and the facts to support it, post-judgment motions and appeals can result in a second chance at trial or even outright dismissal.


Some errors during the trial can be addressed before resorting to an appeal. For example, if the judge made a mistake in allowing or barring evidence, made an incorrect legal ruling, or there was not enough evidence to justify a verdict or conviction, motions can be filed addressing these issues. But time is of the essence. Most final judgments can only be changed within 21 days of the entry of a final order.

In 2019, Mike successfully gained reversal of a guilty verdict and a 35-year prison sentence by presenting evidence of prosecutor misconduct, witness dishonesty, and poor police investigation.


When a criminal conviction cannot be avoided, some rights lost because of the conviction can be restored later, both by the governor’s office and the courts.. For example, a felony conviction always means loss of the right to possess a firearm. However, this right can be restored by a legal process involving a petition to the court and a hearing to show cause why your conviction should not bar you from exercising the right to bear arms.

Another way to move forward after the criminal process is expungement of the arrest record. Even if you were convicted of a crime, if other charges were dismissed as part of a plea bargain, you may be eligible to expunge the record of the dismissed charges. Or if you bargained for a different offense, the record of the original offense can often be expunged even if the final conviction cannot.

For example, if a charge of felony embezzlement was changed to misdemeanor trespassing as part of a plea agreement, the original embezzlement charge may be expunged. Or if you were charged with driving while intoxicated but convicted of reckless driving, the original DWI charge can be expunged.

Expungement can repair your criminal record which can be useful in employment applications, background checks, seeking financial aid, applying for credit, or entering into a residential lease.