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About the Court of Appeals of Virginia


The Court of Appeals of Virginia provides appellate review of final decisions of the circuit courts in domestic relations matters, appeals from decisions of an administrative agency, traffic infractions, and criminal cases.  It also hears appeals of final decisions of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.  While appeals of criminal, traffic, denial of a concealed handgun permit, and certain preliminary rulings in felony cases are presented by a petition for appeal, all other appeals to the Court of Appeals are a matter of right.  Other civil decisions of the circuit court are appealed directly to the Supreme Court of Virginia by petition for appeal.  The Court of Appeals also has original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus (ordering a public official to perform his duty), prohibition (ordering a public official to stop an action), and habeas corpus (ordering the official with custody to produce the detained person to the Court so it can determine whether such custody is proper) in any case over which the court would have appellate jurisdiction, and writs of actual innocence based on non‑biological evidence.

The decisions of the Court of Appeals are final in traffic infraction and misdemeanor cases where no incarceration is imposed, in domestic relations matters, and in cases originating before administrative agencies or the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.  However, upon a petition for review, the Supreme Court may review those decisions as well if it finds that the decision of the Court of Appeals involves a substantial constitutional question as a determinative issue or matters of significant precedential value.  In cases where the decision of the Court of Appeals is not final, any party aggrieved by a decision of the Court of Appeals may petition the Supreme Court for an appeal.

The Court of Appeals consists of seventeen judges.  The Court sits in panels of at least three judges, and the membership of the panels is rotated.  Although based in Richmond, the Court hears arguments in four regions, as the chief judge designates, to provide convenient local access to the Court for litigants throughout the Commonwealth.