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The how and why of the criminal appeals process

If a person is convicted of a crime, he or she may be interested in appealing the conviction. When this happens, the person becomes the appellant. An appeal challenges some type of legal error that occurred during the trial.

The first step in the process is preparing a formal appeal. In most states, you only have so many days, typically 10, to file a notice of appeal with the court. Not only do you need to meet this deadline, but it is important that the appeal includes the exact issue associated with your appeal. In other words, you can not file a formal appeal just because you don't agree with the conviction. You must have a reason.

Can an appeal lead to success? This depends on the particulars of your case, including the reasons for the appeal. There is nothing simple about filing an appeal. Even so, you may be able to achieve success if you have solid ground to stand on. In order for the conviction to be overturned, the court must agree that an error occurred and that it has an impact on the previous outcome.

Since there are so many details associated with the criminal appeals process, this is not something that the convicted will want to take on alone. If they decide to do so, it is possible to miss a deadline or misinterpret the information they must supply in their formal appeal.

Just because you are convicted of a crime does not mean it will stand. Filing an appeal is an option that can lead to a better outcome.

Source: FindLaw, "Criminal Appeals Overview," accessed July 16, 2015

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