The Difficulty in Waiving the Appellate Bond Requirement for Indigent Defendants Appealing from General District Court to Circuit Court Pursuant to Virginia Section 16.1-107
In Virginia’s two-tier trial court system, a losing defendant may appeal to the Circuit Court for a trial de novo to be heard by a judge or jury simply by paying the fees, costs, and an appeal bond usually equal to the judgment amount. However, an indigent defendant is only required to pay the appeal bond in very limited circumstances. Unfortunately for the indigent defendant, there is no clear way for the defendant to have the court make the necessary indigency determination, which undermines the entire purpose of the exemption for the indigent defendant. There are two possible solutions: either the courts should start applying a more flexible standard for when a motion to determine indigency should be heard as the General Assembly intended, or the General Assembly should amend Section 16.1-107 to clearly give the indigent defendant authority to bring such a motion in Circuit Court.
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