Virginia Criminal Law Case Outline- Post-Trial Procedure

The following is an outline of post-trial criminal case law from Virginia.  The outline is copied from the Post-Trial section of an outline maintained by Richard Collins, an attorney at Collins & Hyman, PLC.  Because Mr. Collins created the outline for his own reference, rather than for publication, the outline contains many abbreviations.  Questions regarding the abbreviations, or case cites, can be sent to



Appellate Procedure


Ghameshouly, COA, published May 5, 2009- D challenged convictions for three state felonies and one misdemeanor for violating a local ordinance.  D did not name the city as a party to the appeal.  The city was an indispensable party to the appeal of the local misdemeanor conviction, so the failure to the join it as a party deprived the Court of jurisdiction.


Blackman v. Commonwealth, 45 Va. App. 633 (2005)- an appellee may argue for the first time on appeal any legal ground in support of a judgment so long as it does not require new factual determinations.


Appellate Procedure- Assignments of Error


Herring, VSC, published –Assignment of error referencing motion to strike but otherwise simply stating that trial court erred regarding sufficiency of evidence was not a deficient assignment of error.

It is permissible to alter an assignment of error from the AO that was addressed to the COA.  A party may not alter an AO from its petition to the VSC.


Appellate Procedure- Waiver


Herring, VSC, published- when a party’s motion to strike references a statute, that preserves the sufficiency argument as to all elements of the offense.

Coram Vobis


Neighbors (SCV, September 14, 2007)- circuit court has jurisdiction to hear appeals from denials of coram vobis.  Furthermore, CV doesn’t cover cases where the D alleges he lacked capacity to plead guilty because he was drugged.  § 8.01-677 restricted the scope of the common law to clerical errors and errors in fact.  Errors in fact are only covered when they are not based on facts that were known or could have been known at the time.  D cannot collaterally attack his guilty plea using this writ.


Morris, VSC, published January 13, 2011. Eliminates ineffective assistance of counsel as error in fact.


Harmless Error


Pierce (COA, published November 20, 2007) In trial for PWID marijuana, it was error to admit statement by D acknowledging that she’d been convicted of perjury because it was not relevant.  However, trial courts are presumed to disregard prejudicial evidence.  Unless the record makes clear that the trial court relied on the inadmissible evidence, it is harmless error.

Richard Collins is an attorney at Collins & Hyman, PLC, with offices in Williamsburg and Newport News.