Appellate law is important. It helps to ensure that the legal system functions fairly and justly by providing a means for individuals to challenge and appeal court decisions. Without appellate law, there would be no mechanism for correcting errors or addressing injustices in the lower courts. Of course, appellate courts are not perfect. They can also make material errors.
You may be wondering: Can I appeal a case multiple times? In Washington, the answer is “it depends”—there are certainly some cases that can be appealed multiple times, but having a second appeal hearing is not guaranteed in every situation. In this article, our Washington appellate lawyers explain the key things to know about how many times you can appeal a case in the state.
How Many Times Can You Appeal a Case? (Understanding Washington Law)
How often can you file an appeal in Washington? The answer depends on a number of different factors, including whether you are involved in a criminal case (as a defendant) or a civil case (as either a plaintiff or a defendant). Here is what you should understand regarding the number of times you have the right to appeal in Washington State:
- You Can Always File a Direct Appeal of a Superior Court Case in Washington: You can always file a direct appeal in a criminal case in Washington. The Washington Courts explain that the Washington Court of Appeals is “it is a non-discretionary appellate court–it must accept all appeals filed with it.” Any case arising from a superior court (criminal matters and some civil matters) can be appealed. However, non-superior court cases are generally reviewed by the Washington Court of Appeals on a discretionary basis
- There is a Second Level of Appeal in Washington (Discretionary): You can appeal an adverse verdict a second time in Washington State. The Washington Supreme Court reviews matters appealed from the Washington Court of Appeals. For the most part, the Washington Supreme Court has discretionary review power. While parties have the right to appeal to the Washington Supreme Court (a second appeal), the court may or may not agree to hear the case.
The appeals process is broadly similar for issues of federal law. You may be able to appeal a federal case—especially a criminal case—arising out of Washington State multiple times. There are three levels of federal courts: The trial court, the circuit court (first appellate court), and U.S. Supreme Court (final appellate court).
How to Start the Process: Filing a Notice of Appeal in Washington
Starting the appeals process in Washington begins with filing a Notice of Appeal. This is the first step in challenging a lower court’s decision and must be filed within a specific timeframe. If you wait too long to file a Notice of Appeal, you will miss out on your opportunity to pursue your initial appeal, let alone any other future appeals. The notice must be filed with the clerk of the lower court, and a copy must be served on the opposing party. The Washington State Courts note that parties have as little as 30 days to submit their Notice of Appeal in many types of cases. It is imperative that you consult with a Washington appellate lawyer attorney to ensure the notice is filed properly.
It is Crucial that You Get Your Initial Appeal Right
It is essential that you get your initial appeal right in order to put yourself in the best position to get justice in Washington state. Although you may have multiple opportunities to file an appeal in some situations, it is never guaranteed that your second appeal will actually be heard by a court. Further, any second appeal will be reviewed, in large part, based on your initial appeal.
Hiring a Washington lawyer with specialized expertise in appellate law can help you to ensure that your initial appeal is as strong as possible. A Washington appellate law attorney will be able to review the lower court’s decision and identify any errors that may have been made, as well as any legal arguments that can be made on your behalf.
Consult With Our Washington State Appellate Law Attorneys Today
At The Appellate Law Firm, our Washington appellate lawyers are skilled, experienced, and solutions-focused advocates for our clients. If you have specific concerns about the appeal of a criminal conviction or adverse civil judgment, we are here as your legal resource. Give us a phone call now or contact us online to set up a fully confidential consultation. Our firm serves communities throughout Washington, including King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Spokane County, Spokane County, Clark County, Thurston County, Kitsap County, and Yakima County,