If you have been convicted of a crime, you have the right to appeal the conviction if you think that a legal error occurred during your conviction process. By filing an appeal, you are requesting that a higher court take jurisdiction of the case and examine the trial proceedings to determine if there were any legal errors that may have affected your conviction or your sentence.
Challenging legal errors
In general, appeals do not challenge the jury, but instead they focus on legal errors that may have been made by the judge, the prosecution or even the police.
Intention to appeal
In New York, you have 30 days to file your notice to appeal or to file for an extension for appeal. While the form to declare your intent must be filed fairly quickly with the Clerk of Court, your lawyer will have time to prepare the formal appeal that will be brought before the court.
When your case is appealed, your lawyer will have to file a written document that outlines the reasons you believe the conviction may have been the result of a legal error. The court will then review the record from your criminal trial, the brief submitted by your attorney and any other important documentation that substantiates your claims.
The prosecution will also file a document that explains why your criminal trial was conducted legally. After the prosecution has filed this brief, your attorney has the opportunity to file an additional document that rebuts the claims made by the prosecution.
Court of appeals
When appealing a conviction, your case is sent to the next highest court, either at the state or federal level. If you lose your first appeal, you can request that the next highest court review the case. In the instance that your constitutional rights were violated, you may eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court during the appeal process.
If you were sentenced to death as a result of your conviction, you automatically receive a direct appeal. For trials that occurred at the state level, the appeal will go to the highest court in the state. Federal cases that receive a direct appeal will be conducted in federal courts.
In the direct appeals process, a panel of judges will decide if the appeal is valid or not. They will then either uphold the original conviction and sentence or reverse it.
If you have been convicted of a crime, it is important to understand your rights in the appeals process. For advice on appealing your case, contact an attorney with appellate court experience.