When somebody is charged with a crime, he or she wants nothing more than to put this in the past sooner rather than later. Of course, they realize there is a lot that goes on before this can happen, including the potential for serious penalty.
The criminal appeal process makes it possible for a person to have his or her conviction overturned, despite the initial decision.
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts explains this as follows: "The losing party in a decision by a trial court in the federal system normally is entitled to appeal the decision to a federal court of appeals. Similarly, a litigant who is not satisfied with a decision made by a federal administrative agency usually may file a petition for review of the agency decision by a court of appeals."
While this sounds cut and dry, there are stipulations that make the appeal process much more challenging.
For example, either side can appeal a verdict in a civil case. This is not true with a criminal case. With these, the defendant is able to appeal a guilty verdict; however, the government does not have the right to file an appeal if the defendant is found not guilty.
Nobody wants to go through the appeal process, but this is often necessary to get a fair ruling. There are many steps that must be taken along the way, all of which will lead you towards another decision in the future.
The criminal appeal process is not simple to take on alone, which is why many people consult with an experienced attorney.
Source: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, "The Appeals Process" accessed Jan. 15, 2015