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trial in the courtroom of the Russian Federation

What are the Differences Between a Trial and an Appeal?

After a civil or criminal trial, if someone receives an unfavorable outcome, he or she has the option to appeal. While most people understand that they can appeal, many do not realize that the appellate process is vastly different from the original trial. While some people do try to represent themselves during a trial, it is never recommended that you do so for an appeal. At The Appellate Law Firm, our team of legal experts is here to help explain the differences between a trial and an appeal as well as provide our experienced guidance on your appellate matter. For more information and a free evaluation of your case, call or contact our office today. 

How a Trial Works

During a trial, each side begins with an opening statement on the case. Then, the plaintiff or prosecution and the defendant each have an opportunity to present their evidence, examine and cross examine witnesses, and make the best possible arguments for their side of the case. Each side also has an opportunity to make closing arguments to the jury or to the judge in a bench trial. The judge or jury then deliberates and renders a verdict on the case.

How an Appeal is Different

An appeal differs from a trial because the arguments are made about the mistakes made at trial, not the evidence presented or the arguments made. An appeal is based on substantive or procedural errors made by the court during the trial that substantially altered the outcome of the case. Common causes of appeal include prosecutorial misconduct, errors in the admission or suppression of evidence, and misapplication of the law. No new evidence about the case is allowed at appeal, and there are no witnesses to examine. Everything necessary about the case is pulled from the trial record and the appeal is based solely on what occurred at the trial level.

An appeal also differs because it consists of a written brief and oral arguments. Each side submits a written brief that outlines their major arguments to the appellate court and has an opportunity to respond to the opposing side’s brief. Then, each side has the opportunity to present oral arguments in front of a panel of appellate judges. During oral arguments, the appellate attorney will make the best points to prove why the trial court’s ruling should be overturned or upheld and answers questions from the appellate judges about the case.

The appellate judges then review the written brief, record of the trial court, and oral arguments before rendering a verdict on the appeal. They have the option to either uphold the trial court’s decision, reverse the ruling, or remand the proceedings back down to the trial court with specific instructions about the case. 

Talk to The Appellate Law Firm Now

An appeal can be complex and confusing for someone who has never navigated the appellate process before. For help with your appellate matter, call or contact The Appellate Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.