With over 25 years representing clients in federal appeals, it never ceases to shock or rather amaze me how laypersons as well as attorneys mystify the process of appealing a criminal case. Why do most people find it hard to understand federal laws? Federal judges and other members of staff perform their duties behind closed doors unless when they need to take part in oral arguments. Many of clients keep wondering why these professionals keep distancing themselves from the eyes of the public. The main interest of this article is to help you understand how appeals work.
A criminal appeal is not rehearing of evidence
Most people think that an appeal is another chance for them to reopen some of the facts developed during the trial stage, which is not the case. In other words, an appeal and trial have nothing in common. Therefore, what is a criminal appeal? A criminal appeal is simply a court proceeding in which you can attack the judgment on different legal grounds. In simple terms, criminal appeal offers both sides with a platform of raising questions so that the court can respond to any legal errors alleged to have occurred at a lower court. During the stage of appeal, do not expect any official court reporters, witness stands or juries. Generally, courts of appeal are not there to receive any form of evidence you want to present.
Notice of appeal is different from an appeal
Another common misconception when it comes to criminal appeal is the document Notice of Appeal and the actual appeal. A Notice of Appeal is a simple and short document that helps in notifying the lower court and court of appeal about your intention to appeal your case. In most states, this document needs to be ready in less than ten days after the judgment. Do not wait until the last minute before you rush up and down the courts seeking to appeal your case. Hire a professional attorney to advise you whether to appeal or not.
Criminal appeals generally take long
If you want immediate results from a criminal appeal, then this is not your thing. Mostly, criminal appeals take weeks, months or even years. Courts have many cases to deal with hence; it requires time to find out your outcome.
Federal courts make decisions about criminal appeals in the absence of the client. This implies that after filing your appeal, you have to wait for an email or sometimes a mail from the court. Although there are things that the appellate counsel can do to convince the court of appeal to grant you an oral argument, the best way to go about your case is writing a good brief that will raise compelling legal concerns.
In conclusion, do not rush to file an appeal if you do not have adequate knowledge about the process. However, there is no need spend sleepless nights wondering whether to appeal or not. Hiring a good attorney will help get to know how appeals work.