Many people who are in a position to successfully appeal their case are unable or unwilling to start the process. At Spolin Law, we are dedicated to fighting for positive case outcomes for our clients through the appeals process. To schedule a free consultation of your case, contact our award-winning criminal appeals lawyers today at (310) 424-5816.
How Long Will Your Criminal Appeal Take in California?
The exact length of an appeal in California depends on the complexity and merit of your case, as well as the court that hears your appeal. One important and often overlooked fact is that there are two parallel appeals systems in California: one for federal cases, and one for state cases. In the California system, appeals usually take 14 to 16 months, whereas a federal appeal often takes more than two years. During this time, your criminal appeals lawyer will be advocating on your behalf throughout several stages of the process.
Understanding Appeals Deadlines
If the appeals process takes a long time, it’s because your case must go through several stages. And at each stage after you file, you have to wait behind other cases that have been filed before yours. The first step, which is the fastest, is starting the appeals process. If you were convicted in a California state court, you have as little as 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal, 60 days in felony cases. But if you want to appeal a federal conviction, you have only 14 days to file your notice after the trial court’s judgment. When considering deadlines to file Notices of Appeal, however, it’s important to note that this is not your only avenue for post-conviction relief. To learn more, contact an attorney at our firm right away.
Once a Notice of Appeal is filed, your legal team must obtain and review the record (which includes all the transcripts from your hearings) along with copies of all of the evidence that was considered. This is one of the most crucial stages of the process, because there is a lot to do, and very little time to do it. Your lawyers must turn over each stone in your case, consider every possible argument in your favor, and then select and present the best ones in a well-reasoned and researched brief.
A brief is a legal argument that is submitted to the court, in which you ask for relief from your judgment and explain the reasons why it should be granted. In federal and in state cases, the brief must follow strict (and different) rules governing both the content and the form of the document. The court in which you have filed the appeal will tell you exactly when you have to submit your brief. In both federal and state courts, the brief must generally be submitted within 40 days of you obtaining the record.
All of the briefs will usually be filed around three to five months after the original judgment you are appealing. The next stage, which can take several months or even years more, is for the appeals judges to read the briefs, and for the court to schedule an oral argument. The oral argument is an opportunity to convince the judges that your interpretation of the law is correct. In both federal and state appeals, the hearing is very short, meaning that it’s essential to have a lawyer with experience in this type of advocacy.
After the oral argument, it can take a few weeks for the court to issue its opinion. If they rule in your favor, your conviction might be vacated. But more commonly, they will order a new trial.
For example, if the judge at your first trial didn’t allow you to present a certain piece of evidence in your defense. A successful appeal will give you the ability to present that evidence in your defense at your new trial. If the appeals court rules against you, you can request that the Supreme Court (of California or the United States) review your case.
How Can a California Criminal Appeals Lawyer Help?
The appeals process is vastly different from a trial. Your lawyer doesn’t present evidence or cross-examine witnesses. Instead, they research and write lengthy legal briefs and present their best arguments at a short hearing. For this reason, you need to ensure that your appeal is handled by an experienced appellate lawyer. At Spolin Law, we have a successful track record in California’s courts of appeals. Call us today at (310) 424-5816, or reach out online if you are considering an appeal of your criminal conviction.