Were you or a loved one recently found guilty of committing a crime at trial? If so, you have rights to appeal your conviction, but you have a very small window of opportunity to file a notice of appeal once you are convicted. Once a notice of appeal has been filed with the trial court, at least one appellate court will review the case, either at the state or federal level, depending on your type of case. 

Criminal appeals deal more with questions of law and less with questions of fact. An appellate attorney’s job is to review the entire record of the case, to determine if any issues exist, which might change the outcome of the case for the appellant. After identifying these issues, the attorney is responsible for conducting legal research, amending the record (is possible and necessary) and argue to the court that an error was made, which requires a change to the result of the case. Appeals generally have strict guidelines for parties wishing to appeal, so it is very important to find an attorney who will handle an appeal. Please call Mark today to discuss your options.

Criminal Appeal FAQs

How long does a defendant have to appeal his conviction?

The time for filing a notice of appeal, which starts the appellate process, varies depending on the jurisdiction. Some courts (e.g. Georgia) give a defendant thirty days from sentencing to file a notice of appeal with the court where they were convicted. Other courts (e.g. the federal system, fourteen days) give a defendant less time to file notice. A defendant should be advised of how long he or she has to file a notice of appeal at sentencing and normally the trial/plea attorney will file a notice of appeal, even if they are unlikely to represent the defendant on appeal, if the defendant requests that they do so.

What issues can the defendant raise on appeal?

In most jurisdictions, a defendant is limited to raising issues which the trial court ruled on in their appeal. For instance, pretrial motions which were denied, objections made during the trial or claims made in a motion for new trial could normally be raised as issues on appeal. Issues which were not presented to the court prior to appeal may be considered waived (and thus not considered at all) or will be judged on a very strict standard by appellate courts.

Does the trial court hear the appeal?

In most jurisdictions, the court which presides over a trial or plea will not also hear the appeal. Many times, it may be helpful or advantageous for a defendant to make a motion for new trial to the same court which presided over the trial/plea, but even if that is denied, defendants normally have the opportunity then to appeal the matter to a different court with different judges.

Does the defendant have the right to be present for the appeal?

In most jurisdictions, defendants do not have a right to be present to hear the arguments in their appeal.

How long does the appellate court take to decide?

Appellate courts normally have a long time to reach a decision on an appeal. In most jurisdictions, the time is set by law or by rules of the court, but can be a matter of several months. This is normally the only constraint on a court’s time to decide an appeal; nobody can force the court to reach a decision on an appeal sooner than what the law or the rules of the court require.

What happens if the defendant wins his appeal?

There are several possible outcomes for a defendant who is successful in appealing an adverse decision. In civil cases, the result is almost always a new trial subject to correction of the error(s) which led to original decision being reversed or vacated. This can happen in criminal cases as well. Additionally, in criminal matters the case can be remanded (sent back) for the trial court to consider specific issues, for resentencing or for a party to put on evidence which was not previously on the record. In some situations, a criminal conviction can be vacated (thrown out), though this is rare.