Appeals are time-sensitive. In California, you have a limited amount of time to initiate the appeals process. How much time depends on the nature of your case—though, it could be as little as 30 days. This raises an important question: What happens if you fail to file a timely notice of appeal? The answer is that you could miss out on your right to challenge an unfavorable court decision—unless an exception to the deadline applies. Here, our appellate lawyers explain the importance of meeting the deadline and discuss the exceptions in California.  

California Law: Strict Deadlines to File a Notice of Appeal

As a starting point, it is important to understand the role of a “timely notice” in a criminal or civil appeal. In California, you must file a notice of appeal to challenge an unfavorable court judgment. The Judicial Branch of California notes that a notice of appeal is the step that “begins the entire appeals process.” There are strict deadlines for filing a notice of appeal. If you fail to submit the proper paperwork in time, you will likely miss out on your opportunity to appeal. 

Know the Exceptions to California Notice of Appeal Deadlines 

In California, there are some limited exceptions to the standard notice of appeal deadline in civil and criminal cases. Here are two key exceptions to the notice of appeal deadline in California: 

  • A Constructive Filing: In the 1973 case of In re Benoit, the California Supreme Court emphasized that state case law for criminal appeals has long “granted relief from late filing of notices of appeal on a principle of constructive filing.” A constructive filing is a legal fiction whereby notice is deemed to have been given, even if that is not technically the case in reality. In the case in question, a prisoner delivered a notice of appeal to prison employees within the allotted time. However, the staff members failed to submit the notice to the court in a timely manner. An exception was granted on the grounds of constructive appeal. 
  • Trial Attorney’s Failure to Execute Duties: In some cases, the party that received an unfavorable verdict in a civil or criminal case may rely on an exception to the notice of appeal deadline based on the poor professional conduct of their trial attorney. If you missed a deadline because your trial lawyer failed to properly execute their duties, you may still be able to appeal even if you did not file a notice of appeal in time. 

Of course, you never want to rely on an exception. If you received an unfavorable verdict in a criminal or civil case and you are considering filing an appeal, it is imperative that you consult with a qualified appellate lawyer as soon as possible. 

Speak to a California Appellate Attorney Today

At The Appellate Law Firm, our California appeals lawyer is a passionate, results-driven advocate for justice. If you have any specific questions or concerns about the exceptions to file a timely appeal in California, we are here to help. Call us now or use our online contact form for a confidential consultation. With a law office in Los Angeles, we represent clients in criminal and civil appeals throughout California.

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