Did you receive an adverse decision in a civil case in California? You are not necessarily out of options. You can appeal the ruling to a higher court. This raises an important question: How long does the civil appeals process take in California? The short answer is that the average civil appeal in the state is resolved in approximately 17 months—though there is considerable variation in the time needed to get through the legal process. In this article, our California appellate law attorneys explain the key factors that will affect how long the civil appeals process takes in California. 

Strict Deadline: File a Notice of Appeal to Preserve Your Right to Appeal 

As a starting point, it is important to know that California has strict deadlines to initial the appeals process. To start the process, you need to file a legal document called a Notice of Appeal. If you wait too long to initiate an appeal, it generally means that you will lose out on your opportunity to take legal action. The Judicial Branch of California explains that the deadline to file a Notice of Appeal is as follows: 

  • Limited Civil Case ($25,000 or Less): 30 days after the trial court clerk or other party mails you notice of the judgment or 90 days from the date the judgment was entered. 
  • Unlimited Civil Case ($25,000 or More or Family Law): 60 days after the trial court clerk or other party mails you notice of the judgment or 180 days from the date the judgment was entered. 

Know the Timeline of the Civil Appeals Process in California 

To better understand what you can expect from the appeals process and how long you can expect things to take, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of the timeline. Here is an overview of the timeline for a civil appeal in California. 

  • Order Entered in Civil Case: The appeals process cannot “start” until an order is entered in a civil case. Once an order has been entered, the party that received an unfavorable outcome can assess their appeal rights. 
  • Notice of Appeal is Filed: As stated previously, a Notice of Appeal must be filed before California’s civil appeals deadline expires. The sooner a Notice of Appeal is filed after an order is entered, the sooner the process can move forward. 
  • Appellate Briefs Submitted: Civil appeals in California are handled primarily on paper. Appellate briefs are critically important. In general, the opening brief (from the appellant) will be submitted 40 to 70 days after their Notice of Appeal is filed. There is some variation if additional filings are required in the meantime. The respondent will typically have 30 days to submit their brief. From there, the appellant may have 20 days to submit another reply. 
  • Oral Argument Scheduled (Some Cases): Oral arguments may or may not be scheduled in a civil appeal in California. If there are scheduled, then you can expect oral arguments to come relatively soon after all of the appellate briefs are entered.  
  • Appellate Court Opinion: Once everything is submitted to the proper appellate court, a decision should be expected within three months. As explained by the California Courts, “the judges have 90 days from the date the case is submitted to decide the appeal.

An Overview of the Data from California Appellate Courts

How long does the civil appeals process actually take in practice? The most recent comprehensive data for California comes from the 2017 Court Statistics Report. Reviewing more than 10 years of data, The Judicial Branch of California determined that the median time for civil appeals in California was 517 days—or approximately 17 months. More than 9 in 10 civil appeals were fully resolved within 28 months. 

Get Help From Our California Civil Appeals Attorney Today

At The Appellate Law Firm, our California civil appellate lawyers have the professional expertise that you can trust. If you have any specific questions about the timeline for the civil appeals process in California, we are here to help. Contact us today to set up your confidential initial appointment with a lawyer. With a law office in Los Angeles, we handle civil appeals throughout California, including in San Diego, Long Beach, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, and Fresno.

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Do you or a loved one have a trial case that you wish to appeal? If so, call the office or contact us at The Appellate Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation of your case and learn more about how to increase your chances of success with your appellate case.

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