What Is the Timeline for an Appeal?

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Apr 20

Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws

What Is the Timeline for an Appeal?

by Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws

What Is the Timeline for an Appeal?

Losing a criminal case is nearly always devastating. It can feel like all the doors are closing. There is, however, one last potential option open to you even after you’ve lost: an appeal.

First, a word of caution. Just because you don’t like the outcome of your case does not always mean that you should appeal. There are very narrow criteria for when an appeal can be granted. They are as follows:

  • The court made an error of law. In other words, you have to convince the appeal court that the trial court misinterpreted or misapplied the law under which you were convicted.
  • The court made an error of fact. You will need to prove that there were factual errors in the trial court’s decision.
  • The sentence is excessive. In this case, you will need to demonstrate that the sentence you received is not commensurate with the crime.

An appeal is not a new trial. During the appeal, the only issues discussed will be whether the trial court made any of the above errors. In most cases, the appeal will not address the question of whether the conviction was justified.

The best outcome you can expect in most criminal appeals is a new trial. Winning an appeal means you go back to the beginning. You get a second chance at an acquittal, but that also means the prosecution gets a second chance at a conviction.

The Appeal Process

Filing the Appeal. If you intend to appeal a criminal conviction, you must file a notice of appeal—and any fees—with the appropriate court within 30 days of the trial court’s final judgement.

The Record on Appeal. Your lawyers will assemble all the evidence from the trial court that they want the appellate court to consider. This typically includes all the court filings as well as the court reporter’s transcripts.

Briefs. Each side files a brief. This is your chance to argue in writing that you should be given a new trial because of an error or excessive sentence during your original trial.

Oral Arguments. Each side has an opportunity to argue their positions in front of the appellate court. This is also an opportunity for the members of the appellate court to ask questions.

Decision. The court makes its decision sometime after the oral arguments.

Risks and Benefits of an Appeal

Appeals are an important way to correct errors made on the part of trial courts, and are an essential part of our judicial system. If you feel your trial judge treated you unfairly or made errors, you should consider filing an appeal.

That said, appeals are not without risk. Remember that except for the most egregious cases of judicial misconduct, the best outcome you can hope for is a new trial. A new trial could result in an acquittal but it might not. The prosecution could counter appeal in order to overturn the decisions made by the trial court that were in your favor. As a result, you could end up with not only a second conviction, but possibly a conviction on more serious charges and/or a longer sentence. 

An experienced legal team is essential to a successful appeal. You don’t want a strong appeal case thrown out on a technicality or a missed deadline. In addition, if you do win a new trial, you need expert representation to make sure the successful appeal doesn’t result in a worse outcome.

Do You Have a Case You’d Like to Appeal? Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws

The expert defense team at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC vigorously defend the rights of individuals facing a multitude of charges in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form to get more information or to get a free case review!

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