Criminal Appeals

A convicted person may appeal their case, asking a higher court to review certain aspects of the case for legal error, as to either the conviction itself or the sentence imposed.  During the appeal, the defendant (now "appellant") attempts to argue that the case should be dismissed or the appellant should be re-tried or re-sentenced because of some error that occurred at trial or in another court of criminal appeals.

In California the court of criminal appeals — “Court of Appeal” —  does not consider any new evidence. The same is true with federal appeals, which is handled by the “Court of Appeal” for whatever circuit the case is in, such as the “Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals”, which hears all federal appeals that originated from California. Neither California or federal appellate courts hear from witnesses.  Everything is based on the record of the prior court's proceedings.  Both the defendant/appellant and government are allowed to submit written arguments called "briefs" and the court may or may not allow oral argument.  Appeals are completely different than criminal trials and are governed by different rules.

When Should You File an Appeal?

Generally speaking, an appeal must be taken after a final judgment.  A "final" judgment is:

a sentence (for example, many people appeal a California "Three Strikes" sentence),
a final conviction or an order granting probation,
an insanity commitment,
a mentally disordered offender commitment, or
an addiction commitment.

You may file a "general notice of appeal," which appeals the judgment following a jury or court trial or a contested probation revocation.  This notice does not require that you enumerate any specific issues, and your criminal appeal attorney is not limited by any designation of issues by your trial attorney.  And you are always free to appeal any order that substantially affected your Constitutional rights.

The rules for appeals in California and federal courts are extremely complex and difficult to analyze.  Hire an experienced, honest, and reputable criminal appeals attorney.  Call us at (559) 374-2012.