If you were convicted of a crime and believe that legal errors were made in your trial, you have right to appeal under the American legal system. When you appeal a criminal conviction, you are no longer a defendant, but an appellant.
What Is An Appeal?
An appeal is not a new trial. It is a review by a higher court of the trial court’s application of the law. There is no jury, no testimony from witnesses, and no new evidence presented in an appeal.
Unless a factual finding clearly goes against the weight of the evidence, the appellate court will accept the facts of the case as revealed by the trial court. The purpose of the appellate court’s review is to determine if errors were made in procedure or application of the law in your trial.
Steps Involved in a Criminal Appeal
A criminal appeal is not a new trial, but it can give you a second chance to clear your name and preserve your freedom. The following steps are involved in a successful appeal:
- Choosing an attorney to handle your appeal. Not every trial lawyer can successfully handle appeals. It is important to find an attorney who understands the appeals process and has the legal research and reasoning skills to effectively handle your case.
Filing the Notice of Appeal. This notice must be filed with the trial court where your case was heard. The time limit for filing in California depends on the type of crime you were convicted of — felony, misdemeanor, or infraction.
- Reviewing the Record on Appeal. Your attorney will obtain the Record on Appeal from the trial court clerk. The record consists of the clerk’s transcript (every document that was filed with the court in your case) and the court reporter’s transcript (record of everything that was said during your trial). Your attorney must undertake a thorough and painstaking review of all documents and transcripts to identify any possible legal errors made in your case.
- Preparing and filing the opening brief. After careful review of the trial documents for legal errors, your attorney is ready to prepare the opening brief. The brief will summarize what occurred in your case and present legal arguments supporting your appeal. The opening brief is the major instrument of persuasion in an appeal.
- Oral argument. Your attorney and opposing counsel will argue your appeal in front of the three justices assigned to your case. You may appear in court to listen, as well. The justices will listen to the oral arguments, confer with each other, and issue a written decision, affirming or reversing your conviction.
Attorney in Irvine Who Focuses on Appeals
The attorney you choose to handle your appeal can make all the difference in the outcome. Appellate work is complicated and time-sensitive and requires a great deal of legal research and sophisticated legal reasoning. Any failure to meet a deadline or follow procedure can result in dismissal of your case. It is absolutely crucial that you choose a lawyer who focuses on appeals.
Attorney Parker’s practice at The Law Office of Corey Evan Parker is focused on civil and criminal appeals. Please feel free to contact the office for a consultation.