When someone is convicted of a crime, it’s not necessarily the end of the road. You can file an appeal on their behalf. This is essentially asking a higher court to review the trial to ensure that no legal errors occurred. Although the process can take a long time — up to two years in some cases — you only have a short window to file a notice of appeal. For this reason, you should consult an appeals lawyer immediately after the trial court’s judgment is handed down.
At Spolin Law, P.C., we have helped many Californians challenge court rulings that would have resulted in lengthy prison sentences and crippling fines. Our experienced appeal lawyers know how to write effective appellate briefs and what it takes to advocate for the desired case outcome. If you or a loved one has been unfairly convicted of a crime, consider filing an appeal before it’s too late.
Call our California appeals attorneys or staff members today at (310) 424-5816 for a consultation.
How to Succeed in the Appeals Process
The hard truth is that few people succeed in having convictions or sentences overturned through the appeals process. Those who do succeed put every factor in their favor by hiring an experienced legal team and starting the process on time.
You will need a skilled attorney on your side to ensure that you properly navigate all of the following:
- Filing a notice of appeal — For misdemeanors, the appeal must be filed with the Appellate Division of the Superior Court no more than 30 days after the final judgment is entered–which is the sentencing hearing in a criminal case. For felonies, you have up to 60 days to file a notice of appeal with the California Court of Appeal. If you are appealing a federal conviction, you have 14 days to file the notice with the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit.
- Request release on bail – Since the appeals process is so long; most appellants try to get released on bail while awaiting the end of the process. The court may decide to release you on your own recognizance or make you pay a bond. In either case, your ability to travel will be limited while out on bail. If the court considers you to be a threat to public safety, or if they think you might run away, they will not allow your release on bail.
- Get the trial record — A strong appeal argument doesn’t present new evidence or a new angle on the case. It’s about showing that a legal error committed during the trial resulted in an unjust outcome. Your appeals lawyer must make all of their arguments based on the trial record, which includes all transcripts and motions from the trial proceedings. It’s also helpful to meet with the lawyer who represented the defendant at trial because they will have insight into the proceedings.
- Isolate and research the appealable issues — Based on the review of the case record and discussions with the trial defense team, your appeals lawyer will determine which issues to raise on appeal. Once the issues are isolated, they will need to conduct thorough legal research to get the strongest authority behind their argument. They will also need to anticipate what arguments the state will make and figure out ways to counter them.
- Write the appellate brief — Writing a strong appellate brief is as much a skill as it is an art. It must be clear and concise yet thorough enough to make a compelling and airtight argument. It should also anticipate and discredit the arguments the state might make in their brief. In addition to these substantial issues, the appellate brief must follow strict formatting requirements that cover everything from paper color to font size. After the state files the respondent brief, the appellate side has the option of filing a reply brief to rebut the state’s arguments.
- Prepare for and attend the oral argument — Most judges make up their mind on the case when they read the briefs. So by the time the oral argument comes around, they already know how they are going to vote. But the appellant must use this opportunity to convince any potentially undecided judges to vote in their favor. The things that may sway a jury at trial do not work at oral argument, where the advocate must carefully present and answer questions from the judges about legal theory.
After the oral arguments, the judges will write an opinion that contains their ruling on the appeal and the reasoning behind it. If the appeal is granted, they may vacate your conviction, or order a new trial or sentencing hearing. If they decide against you, you can still file another appeal to a higher court of review–either the California or United States Supreme Court–but these courts only take on cases that present new or significant problems of law.
Get Help with the Appeals Process Today
For many people, filing an appeal is their last chance to avoid years or even life behind bars. At Spolin law, P.C., we don’t take this responsibility lightly. We do everything in our power to successfully lead our cases through the appeals process. If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime, time is running out to file an appeal.
Call us today at (310) 424-5816 for your consultation.