Losing a trial can be devastating—especially if it is a criminal case. You have to appeal an unjust verdict, but you will generally not be able to introduce witnesses on appeal nor will you get to go before another jury. The appeals process is substantively different from a trial. At the outset of your appeal, it is useful to have an understanding of the rules and procedures. In this article, our criminal appeals lawyers explain why witnesses and juries are not used in criminal appeals.  

Appellate Courts are Different From Trial Courts

Appellate law is a broad term used to describe the legal/court process that takes place at the higher levels, beyond the trial. There are significant differences between appeals courts and trial courts. As simply explained by the United States Courts, appellate courts exist not to directly hear disputes of fact but instead to ensure that “proceedings were fair and that the proper law was applied correctly.” Among other things, this means that there are no witnesses and no jury. Here are two key things to know about why juries and witnesses are not used in criminal appeals: 

Appellate Courts Generally Do Not Review New Evidence:

With very minimal exceptions, appellate courts generally do not hear new evidence in a criminal case. The court will review the record to confirm that the evidence that was introduced was handled properly. A consequence of this is that no witness testimony is heard by appellate courts. 

Appellate Courts are Focused Procedural Issues and Technical Errors:

In a criminal case, it is the role of the jury to determine if the prosecution has met its burden to establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. As appeals courts are not weighing in on “guilt,” there is no role for a jury. Instead of deciding if a defendant is guilty or not guilty, the appellate court is in the role of making sure that the process was fair. Appeals courts are focused on more narrow issues, including procedural matters and technical mistakes. 

You Need a Lawyer With Specialized Appellate Law Expertise  

There is a lot at stake with a criminal appeal. Your freedom and your future may be on the line. An appeal in a state or federal criminal case will also cost time and money. If you are going to pursue a criminal appeal, it is imperative that you have an appellate law with specialized knowledge and expertise in your corner. A criminal appellate lawyer will make sure that you are in the strongest possible position to get justice. 

Speak to a Criminal Appellate Law Attorney Today 

At The Appellate Law Firm, our criminal appellate attorneys are skilled, solutions-focused advocates for our clients. If you or your loved one was convicted of a crime and you are preparing to file an appeal, we are here to help you navigate the legal process. Schedule a confidential consultation today. Our law firm provides representation in the criminal appeals process across many states, including California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. 

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