In law, an appeal is an application to a higher court to reserve or otherwise modify a decision made by a lower court. This raises an important question: What does it mean for an appeal to be allowed? The short answer is that it simply means that there is an existing legal procedure in place to allow the non-prevailing party to seek a review of an unfavorable court’s decision. In this article, our appellate law attorneys provide a more detailed explanation of the key things to know about appeals being allowed to move forward.
Most Court Decisions Can be Appealed (Criminal, Civil, and Family Law)
As a starting point, it is important to emphasize that there is a comprehensive appellate law system in the United States—both in federal courts and at the state level, such as in California and Washington. In effect, this means that appeals are technically “allowed” across a wide spectrum of legal matters, including in federal criminal cases, state criminal cases, federal civil cases, state civil cases, and family law disputes.
Even With the Right to File an Appeal, a Court May or May Not Hear it
Your appeal is not guaranteed to be heard—even if you have a clear right to file one. There are both discretionary and non-discretionary appellate courts in the United States. As an example, the Washington State Court of Appeals is “a non-discretionary appellate court.” Assuming that you file a valid and timely appeal, this state court system will hear your initial appeal.
In contrast, there are plenty of other appellate courts that retain discretion over whether or not to evaluate an appeal on its merits—meaning they may or may not agree to hear an appeal even if you have a right to file one. If you have any specific questions about discretionary appeals vs. non-discretionary appeals, our legal team is available to help
An Appeal is Not a Retrial—You Need Strong Grounds for Challenging a Decision
The appeals process can be costly and time-consuming. It may not be advisable to pursue an appeal simply because you have the right to file one and the court will agree to review your case. Whether you are appealing a federal case or a state case in California or Washington, it is imperative that you have clear and compelling grounds to challenge the trial court’s decision.
Ultimately, appellate law is not focused largely on procedural matters. To file a successful appeal, you generally need to prove substantive and material error by a lower court. An experienced appellate lawyer can help you preserve all potential grounds for appeal and determine if one is the best path forward in your case.
Get Help With Your Criminal or Civil Appeal Today
At The Appellate Law Firm, we are here to help clients navigate complex appellate law matters. With experience handling a wide array of criminal and civil appeals, you can rely on our attorneys for high level legal representation. Schedule a confidential consultation today. We provide appellate law services in California, Washington, and several other jurisdictions.