What You Need to Know About Appellate Briefs in California

Posted on Wednesday, March 27th, 2019 at 9:18 am    

Attorney-Working-on-Appellate Briefs

If you have been convicted of a crime, you may be able to avoid criminal penalties by appealing the conviction. The appeal is essentially a request for a higher court to review your trial, and to reverse any errors that may have resulted in a wrongful conviction or excessively harsh sentencing. The appeals process is costly and may not get the results you intend, but you should not rule out this option before speaking with a knowledgeable Los Angeles criminal appeals lawyer.

You owe it to yourself and to your family to make every effort to avoid the devastating consequences of a criminal conviction. If you have questions about the appeals process in CA and what it entails – including appellate briefs – contact Spolin Law P.C. today at (310) 424-5816 to schedule a free consultation of your case.

What Does a Successful Appellate Brief Look Like?

An appellate brief must be filed in time, and with the appropriate court. There are several district courts of appeals in California, each with its unique territorial jurisdiction. Your lawyer must first file a notice of appeal within 30 to 60 days of the final judgment in your criminal case. It is important to note, however, that there are possibilities for post-conviction relief beyond these deadlines, including a CA Writ of Habeas Corpus, and an Application for Communication of Sentence.

Assuming these deadlines are met, your lawyer will be able to submit a brief outlining the reasons why your conviction or sentencing was wrongful. California has stringent requirements about briefs that apply both to the content and appearance of the document. Title 8 of the California Rules of Court lays out these requirements in detail.

A good appellate brief will contain the following:

  • Cover page – In this part of your brief, your attorney should identify the case, the parties, and their legal counsel with appropriate formatting. The party who files the appeal is called “appellant,” and the answering party is called the “respondent.”
  • Table of authorities – This section will list of the court cases, statutes, and regulations that are cited as authority in the argument section.
  • Introduction – The introduction of your brief should include a quick review of the facts of the case, and why there is an appealable error.
  • Statement of the case – This should include a detailed description of the procedural steps that your case traveled through. An accurate account of the procedural history is essential, because this often shows where the trial court made mistakes.
  • Statement of appealability – Your appeals lawyer should write a description of why the lower court’s judgment is appealable, and cite all relevant articles of the Code of Procedure.
  • Statements of facts – Your attorney should include an in-depth account of all of the relevant facts of the case.
  • Argument – This section will connect the facts of the case with established legal precedent and legislative authority. It will show that what occurred in your case match other cases where an appeal was granted in favor of the convicted. This section will also anticipate the arguments of the respondent, and provide counter-arguments.
  • Conclusion – Here, the brief should clearly state why the court should grant an appeal, and concisely repeat the strongest arguments in favor of this outcome.

Sometimes, the respondent’s answer brief may contain arguments or cite authority that your appellate lawyer did not anticipate in the initial brief. For this reason, California law allows the appellant to file a reply brief to address any unanticipated issues. A good brief should be so in-depth that it leaves no stone unturned, and adequately covers any potential arguments that the government could make.

Do You Have Questions About Appellate Briefs? Call Us Today

If the appeals court accepts your attorney’s arguments, it may cancel the judgment of the trial court and order a new trial. If sentencing issues were on appeal, the court might order a new sentencing hearing. These outcomes can result in your freedom being restored. If you have been convicted of a crime, you may still have time to appeal. Call Spolin Law P.C. today at (310) 424-5816, or reach out online to schedule a free, initial evaluation of your case.