A guilty verdict is not always the end of the road. You still have options even after a conviction in California. The criminal appeals process offers you the chance to appeal an unfair judgment and have your conviction reviewed.
However, appealing a case is complex and requires careful attention to deadlines, filing requirements, and other details that can impact the outcome of your case. As the premier California appeals attorneys, Spolin Law, P.C. has provided some of the key terms used in the California criminal appeals process. These may help you understand what to expect.
Criminal Appeals: Key Terms
- Brief – A brief is a written statement that details one side’s arguments. In an appeal, a brief usually outlines why the court made a mistake or supports the prior ruling.
- Case Law – To understand how the law applies to your case, you have to look at how the law was interpreted in previous court decisions. Case law is another name for legal precedent.
- Court of Appeals – The court that reviews decisions made by lower courts; Also known as a state appellate court.
- Decree – A formal order that is legally enforceable.
- Finding – A decision made by the court or jury after an examination or investigation. The judge announces their finding after deliberation.
- Lower Court – When a decision is reviewed during an appeal, the lower court’s decision is the one being reviewed. Typically in reference to district courts, lower court decisions are reviewed by a superior court.
- Motion Practice – A party uses a motion practice to ask for relief from the court. A motion is how an issue is brought to the court for a decision. Common examples include motions to dismiss charges, compel action, or exclude certain evidence.
- Notice of Appeal – When you decide to appeal a lower court’s decision, you file a notice of appeal with the superior court. This starts the official appeals process.
- Opinion – When your case goes to the court of appeals, three or more judges hear your case. After they make a decision, they provide an explanation of their decision and the influencing factors.
- Oral Arguments – During oral arguments, lawyers from both sides summarize their points and take questions from the judge.
- Relief – Post-conviction relief gives the defendant the opportunity to provide more evidence or bring up additional issues after a decision has been reached. If evidence supports it, your relief can include a fair resolution.
- Petitioner – The party who requests an appeal and submits a notice of appeal to the court is the petitioner.
- Precedent – This is similar to “case law.” It refers to previous court decisions in similar cases to the one being heard. Judges may look at the precedent set by previous cases when trying a new case.
- Pro Se – Pro se representation is when an individual does not have an attorney and chooses to represent themselves in court.
- Respondent – The party that did not request the appeal is the respondent.
- Stay Pending Appeal – A stay pending appeal offers temporary relief from the judgment of the court until the court can rule on the appeal.
- Superior Court – During the appeal process, the superior court is the one that reviews the decision made by the lower court.
- Trial Court – The trial court is the court with original jurisdiction over a criminal case.
- Writ – This is a written court order that tells a party to act or abstain from acting in a specific way. For example, a Writ of Habeas Corpus asks the court to review the terms of imprisonment.
Why You Need an Appeals Attorney
If you want to appeal a court decision made against you, you need the assistance of an experienced appeals attorney. Your lawyer can review your official case file to look for mistakes that may strengthen your argument. An appeals attorney will help you navigate this process, avoid roadblocks, and meet strict deadlines.
Contact Spolin Law Today
Attorney Aaron Spolin of Spolin Law, P.C. was previously a prosecutor and now an award-winning criminal defense and appeals attorney. With extensive appeals experience and a record of overturning unjust convictions, when the system has wronged you and you need to appeal, turn to Spolin Law.