Criminal appeals are petitions made by the losing party to a higher court so that an unfavorable ruling by a lower court can be reversed. An appeal must be based on the fact that a reversible error was made by the trial court. In a criminal trial, an appeal may either target the conviction or the sentencing decision made without necessarily regarding the underlying conviction. In addition, an appeal can only be filed after a trial court decision. If someone is arrested and then let out with a bail bond, they hve not been formally convicted of a crime, so an appeal cannot take place until if and when they are actually convicted of a crime.
Contrary to public opinion, an appeal doesnt constitute a fresh trial. This is because no new witnesses or evidence is presented before the appellate judge. Instead, the trials evidence and transcript will be reviewed to establish whether the procedure of application of the law was erroneous. Even if errors are pinpointed, it doesnt automatically mean that the judgment will be overturned and a fresh trial granted to the losing party.
The Appeals Process
In most state legal proceedings, the petitioner or appellant must file an appeal notice within one month of the ruling. In cases involving federal courts, the notice must be filed within 60 days. Once the notice is filed, the appeals process is set in motion. The petitioner is also required to submit a legal brief explaining the alleged errors that the trial court committed. This makes it easy for the appellee and the respondent to write a response.
Once briefs from the respondent and the petitioner have been received by the appellate court, all the arguments therein will be evaluated in a bid to determine whether there were any errors in the application of the law by the lowers court, and whether these errors are serious and thus reversible. The petitioner and the respondent can also submit oral arguments besides fielding questions from the appellate judge(s). More often than less, these question and answer sessions last an average of 10-15 minutes.
Chances of Successful Appeals
The number of appeals which go through successfully is insignificant. This results from the fact that appellate judges often give trial courts great leeway as far as conducting trials is concerned. The law doesnt not wholly guarantee perfect trials. This means that appellate courts can only overturn trial court verdicts that contain serious and glaring errors of law. Since appellate courts grant great leeway to trial courts, , petitioners often face an uphill task when it comes to proving that errors committed during trial were serious and warrant a reversal of the decision that was initially made.
Appeals offer convicted persons an opportunity to avoid jail terms. In as much as the odds may be stacked against you, there is a still a fighting chance. It is advisable to consult a lawyer so that a case review can be undertaken so that the possibility of overturning your conviction can be mooted.