The how and when of the criminal appeals process

In the event that a person is convicted of a crime, he or she has several options. While some go along with the ruling of the court, others realize it would be in their best interest to file an appeal.

Upon filing an appeal, the convicted person is requesting that a higher court review certain details of the case.

From the defendant's side, an appeal is often a final effort to have a conviction overturned. He or she feels that legal mistakes were made that impacted the decision of the jury or the sentence that was imposed.

Conversely, the court reviewing the case has obligations as well. Here is what FindLaw has to say: "In considering an appeal, the court reviewing the case looks only at the "record" of the proceedings in the lower court, and does not consider any new evidence. The record is made up of the court reporter's transcripts of everything said in court, whether by the judge, the attorneys, or witnesses." The higher court will then take everything into consideration as to reach a decision.

It doesn't matter if you are filing an appeal at the federal or state level, keep in mind that it can take many months for a decision to be handed down.

It is hard enough going through the legal system one time. If you find yourself filing an appeal, you will once again be faced with uncertainty.

Those who are fortunate get the outcome they are hoping for the first time around. They never have to file a criminal appeal. Just remember, this is not the way things always work out. There are times when an appeal is necessary.

Source: FindLaw, "Criminal Appeals Overview" accessed Mar. 11, 2015

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