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If you received an unfavorable decision from a court in a criminal case, civil case, or family law case, you have the right to appeal. You may want to know: What are the chances of successfully overturning a judge’s ruling on appeal? The answer depends entirely on the specific circumstances of your case. That being said, the state and federal data show that the overall success rate is between 7% and 20%. In this article, our appellate law attorneys provide an overview of the latest data related to the success rate of appeals. 

The Data: Percent of Lower Court Decisions Reversed on Appeal (Federal)

The most recent comprehensive data on the success of federal appeals comes from 2015. During that year, more than 50,000 appeals were filed across the full range of federal sector cases, including criminal matters, civil matters, and administrative matters. The rate of success varied significantly from case to case. As reported by the United States Courts, the percentage of lower court decisions that were overturned on appeal were as follows: 

  • Criminal Appeals: 6.9%
  • Private Civil Appeals:14.2%
  • Bankruptcy Appeals: 24.4%
  • Administrative Appeals: 7.8%

The data for 2015 is similar to the data for prior years. In general, a similar percentage of cases are successful on appeal each year. In effect, this means that several thousand successful federal appeals are filed nationwide each year. 

State Court Criminal Appeals Had Slightly Better Rates of Success

The success rate of criminal appeals is a bit higher in state courts. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found that nearly 15% of state-level criminal appeals nationwide were successful in getting a court’s decision overturned in 2015. More recent data from the Judicial Council of California finds a similar success rate in criminal and civil appeals in the state. The data for other jurisdictions, including Washington, is generally consistent with these numbers. Depending on the type of case, the overall success rate for appeals is somewhere between 7% and 20%. 

The Lesson: Appeals are Complicated—Skilled Representation is Essential

An appeal is not a re-hearing. Instead, it is an opportunity to challenge a clear error made by a court. While the overall success rate of appeals in criminal and civil cases can provide some guidance, the reality is that each and every appeal is unique. You need a strong, reliable appellate law attorney who can help you understand your potential grounds for appeal, the likelihood of a successful outcome, and the precise steps that you need to take to challenge a lower court’s decision.  

Get Help From Our Appellate Law Attorneys Today

At The Appellate Law Firm, our appellate lawyers are skilled, justice-driven advocates for clients. We handle both criminal appeals and civil appeals. If you have any specific questions or concerns about appellate law, our law firm is here as a resource. Give us a call or connect with us online to arrange your strictly private initial consultation. We provide appellate law representation in several jurisdictions, including in California and Washington. 

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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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