What is a Criminal Appeal?
A criminal appeal is a right awarded to a defendant who receives an unfavorable verdict or outcome in a previously heard trial; the criminal appeal process provides a defendant the opportunity to contest his or her conviction to a formal appeals court.
The criminal appeal process, therefore, is initiated typically by the defendant in a criminal trial who believes that an egregious error, present in their particular trial, prevented them from obtaining an accurate judgment in their case. That being said, it is exceedingly rare that the prosecuting party has a legal right to engage in the criminal appeal process, although there are instances where such an engagement is possible.
Not every individual who receives an unfavorable decision in their particular court hearing will be able to engage in the criminal appeal process; an individual cannot engage in a criminal appeal solely because they were unhappy with the trial’s outcome. The criminal appeal also does not reevaluate the evidence or witness testimonials that were present in the previous case; the criminal appeal only evaluates the procedure and protocol of the hearing in alignment with written statements delivered by the appealing party.
Time Frame Associated with the Criminal Appeal:
The criminal appeal process will vary based on location; each state maintains different timeframes and a statute of limitations to engage in the criminal appeal process. To initiate the criminal appeal process, the individual must file a “Notice of Appeal”; this document is the formal starting point and serves as the official acknowledgment to start the criminal appeal process. In the majority of states, the period of time to engage in the criminal appeal is 10 days following the initial conviction or sentencing.
In the majority of jurisdictions across the United States, a handwritten “I file a criminal appeal”, signed and dated, will suffice in moving the case from the trial court to an appellate system. If the individual was tried in a state court, the appeal and the surrounding limitations is reliant on the particular state’s appellate system; if the applicant was tried in a federal court; however, the individual will proceed to the federal appellate system assigned to cover the particular state in which the individual was formerly tried in.
Criminal Appeal Process:
The criminal appeal process is slow and fairly tedious; a criminal appeal does not incorporate a courtroom structure were proceedings and a testimony is typically offered. As a result of this structure, only the criminal lawyer that presided over the prior case will attend the criminal appeal hearing.
The criminal appeal process is engaged when the lawyers prepare and file the record of appeal; during this stage, the defending attorney will file his or her brief, which presents the legal issues. Following the delivery of a brief, the prosecuting entity is given 30 days to file a countering brief to refute the defendant’s statements.
The next step in the criminal appeal process involves the particular appellate court reviewing the briefs delivered by both sides. The court will then determine whether or not to hold an oral argument for the case; if the law is settled in an area and there are no factual nuances present, the case will not be orally argued. If the court; however, has subtle questions concerning the state of the law or the applicability of the law regarding the particular case, the matter will be set for an oral argument.
Once the oral arguments are concluded (if necessary), a judge of the appellate court will offer the court’s opinion in a written statement. This delivery will give the affirmed decision in the case; the case will either be remanded, upheld or reversed during the final stage of the criminal appeal process.