How to Win an Appeal in General

Aaron Spolin

Los Angeles criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin has a track record of success in Los Angeles County.

Winning an appeal is often more difficult than proving you were not guilty in the first place. Your attorney must show that there was a mistake made in the original trial that warrants reconsideration of your conviction.

Los Angeles criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin has years of experience and considerable success with criminal appeals and writs. He knows what winning an appeal means to you and your family. He will do everything in his power to get you the best outcome possible.

Mr. Spolin explains the steps that Spolin Law P.C. often takes in fighting an appeal:

  1. Review the Case for Errors: First, transcripts of the trial and pretrial hearing must be obtained. It is appropriate to scrutinize exactly what happened in front of the judge as well as every other part of your case file. After an in-depth review, appeals are won by finding mistakes made by your previous lawyer, improper statements made by the judge or prosecutor, and any legal errors that were made. Factual and legal mistakes that violate your rights provide strong arguments on appeal.
  2. Develop an Argument Based on the Law: There are many arguments that can be made on appeal. Those arguments must be based on court procedure and state or federal law, depending on which venue your case is being heard in. If you were convicted of a crime by California, then your appeal will be made in state courts and based on state law. However, if you were convicted of a federal offense, your appeal will take place in federal court and will be based on federal laws.
  3. Establish Your Full or Partial Innocence: Your appeal must present a legal or factual argument, and also in some cases the appeal can make an emotional plea to the judge. If you are innocent, your criminal appeal lawyer will strive to prove that you are not guilty and the failed legal system is harming an innocent person.
  4. Getting You Released from Imprisonment: It may be possible to get you released from incarceration while your appeal is pending. Your attorney can present the request to the judge and seek your release.

These are the steps that the experienced attorneys at Spolin Law, P.C. will take to fight for a successful appeal in court. To learn more about the appeal process, contact Mr. Spolin and his team at (310) 424-5816.

  1. How to Win an Appeal in General
  2. Los Angeles Appellate Courthouses
  3. Deadlines for Second District and Ninth Circuit Appeals
  4. Effective Arguments in Overturning Convictions
  5. The Importance of a Criminal Appeals Lawyer

Criminal Appeal Courthouses in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Courthouse

It’s important to work with an attorney who knows local judges and how the courts operate. Spolin Law P.C. has presented cases at all levels of Los Angeles appeals courts.

Your criminal case may have been originally heard in either the Los Angeles County Superior Court Criminal Division (for state charges) or U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (for federal charges). However, if you were convicted and decide to appeal, your case will be moved to a higher-level appeals court.

Second District Court of Appeal (for Criminal Appeals)

The Courts of Appeal are intermediate courts of review. They exercise mandatory reviews of appealable orders or judgments from a superior court, except where the death penalty is imposed, over which only the Supreme Court may exercise jurisdiction.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal is located in Los Angeles and hears cases in four counties – Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo. There are eight Divisions in the Second District with Divisions 1-5, 7, and 8 being located in Los Angeles and handling all matters arising from the Los Angeles Superior Court. Division 6 is located in Ventura and hears matters from the remaining three counties.

The Divisions located in Los Angeles can be reached at the following:

Ronald Reagan State Building
300 S. Spring Street
2nd Floor, North Tower
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Phone: (213) 830-7000

Decisions of the Courts of Appeal are subject to discretionary review by the California Supreme Court.

Some of the busiest Los Angeles courthouses that feed into the Second District Court of Appeal include Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center (CCB), Van Nuys Courthouse, Compton Courthouse, Airport Courthouse (located near LAX airport), Inglewood Courthouse, and Torrance Courthouse.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal (for Criminal Appeals)

If you were convicted of federal crimes in a federal court in Los Angeles, your case can be appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court for the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit encompasses several states and territories, including California, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and Guam. There is more than one courthouse located in that area.

If you appeal a criminal case from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Western Division in Los Angeles, your case is initially heard in Pasadena at the Richard Chambers Courthouse.

The Richard Chambers Courthouse can be reached at the following:

125 South Grand Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91105

Phone: (626) 229-7250

Although there is no right to appeal a decision of the court of appeals to the Supreme Court of the United States, you can request that the Supreme Court review a judgment by petitioning for a writ of certiorari. Decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court are final and binding on all lower state and federal courts.

Some of the Federal District Courts that also feed into the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal include the district courts for the Northern, Southern, and Eastern Districts of California, as well as nearby Western states.

  1. How to Win an Appeal in General
  2. Los Angeles Appellate Courthouses
  3. Deadlines for Second District and Ninth Circuit Appeals
  4. Effective Arguments in Overturning Convictions
  5. The Importance of a Criminal Appeals Lawyer

State & Federal Appeal Deadlines

If you are wrongfully convicted of a crime, you need to find a criminal appeals lawyer quickly. There are deadlines you must meet when filing an appeal. If you fail to take immediate action, you may forfeit your right to an appeal.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Pasadena)

Appeals to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Pasadena, require a Notice of Appeal to be filed within 14 days after the entry of your. This deadline can be sometimes extended based on good cause or excusable neglect. The district court judge may extend the deadline to file a notice of appeal to up to 30 days from the initial deadline. Interestingly, although the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handles federal appeals, a Notice of Appeal is usually filed with the Federal District Court in the Central District of California. This court is located at

Richard H. Chambers Court of Appeals Building
125 South Grand Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91105-1621

There are certain post-conviction motions that also have a deadline. They must be made within 14 days of your conviction. Some of those motions and/or petitions include:

  • Motion for Judgment of Acquittal
  • Motion for Arrest of Judgment
  • Motion for a New Trial
  • Petition for Rehearing or Rehearing En Banc

If your motions or petitions are not granted, then your Los Angeles federal criminal appeals lawyer can file a notice of appeal in your case.

Second District Court of Appeals (Los Angeles)

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Los Angeles, also requires a Notice of Appeal within a short time of a final judgment. If you were convicted of a felony in Los Angeles, then you have 60 days after the court judgment to file a Notice of Appeal. As with federal cases, the notice of appeal is filed in the lower court, which — in the Second District — is Los Angeles Superior Court.

Misdemeanor convictions only allow you 30 days after the court’s judgment to file a notice of Appeal with the Criminal Department of the court where your case was heard.

Writ of Habeas Corpus Deadlines

A writ of habeas corpus is another type of appeal that often has a very different deadline from the traditional type of appeal. For state inmates convicted in Los Angeles County, a writ of habeas corpus would be filed in either Federal District Court for the Central District of California or Los Angeles Superior Court. Federal writs are due within one year and 90 days after losing a case in the California Supreme Court. State writs of habeas corpus are due within a “reasonable time” after discovering the issue that is raised on the writ (or after one should have discovered the issue).

As writs of habeas corpus are some of the most complicated types of appeals, you would be well served to speak to an attorney if you are considering this option. The attorneys at Spolin Law P.C. are available at (310) 424-5816.

Release from Imprisonment

The criminal appeals process takes time throughout California, with Southern California and Los Angeles being no exception. It can even take years of fighting for your rights. In the meantime, we will request that you are released from prison while your appeal is pending. Your criminal appeals attorney can file a motion seeking your release on a bail bond.

The court will consider several factors when determining whether bail is appropriate while you wait on the outcome of your appeal. Some of the factors they will consider include:

  • The seriousness of your conviction
  • The length of your sentence
  • Your criminal history
  • Your ties to the community
  • Your ability and likelihood to travel and become a fugitive
  • The risk to public safety

Although you do not have a constitutional right to be released while your appeal case is pending, it is something we will pursue. We will work to meet the burden of proving that bail is appropriate in your case.

  1. How to Win an Appeal in General
  2. Los Angeles Appellate Courthouses
  3. Deadlines for Second District and Ninth Circuit Appeals
  4. Effective Arguments in Overturning Convictions
  5. The Importance of a Criminal Appeals Lawyer

Effective Arguments to Overturn Convictions

Legal documents and resources | Spolin Law P.C.

Effective arguments can overturn convictions. Spolin Law P.C. will carefully evaluate every aspect of your case and what happened at your trial. The firm will seek to find every argument that applies to your case.

There are thousands of arguments that can be made to support your criminal appeals. Some of the arguments that the team at Spolin Law, P.C. has found to be effective include:

The Appeals Process for Los Angeles County Convictions

If you are convicted in state court in Los Angeles County, the traditional appeal process is as follows. (Note that federal convictions follow a very similar timeline, although they are in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, located in Pasadena, CA).

Step 1: File a Notice of Appeal in Superior Court

A notice of appeal is a document that states your intention to file an appeal. It must be submitted within a certain timeframe as prescribed by law. Generally this notice is filed in the same court where you were convicted. For example, if you were convicted in Judge Shultz’s Department D of Compton Superior Court, you would file the Notice of Appeal in that same Department D.

Step 2: Obtain a Trial Transcript

The court reporter in the Superior Court will prepare a full transcript of your case. This will include all of the testimony and evidence that was submitted during the trial of your case. You must obtain this transcript in order to review it and evaluate any errors that may have occurred. Transcripts are then sent to the Court of Appeal for that district. All felony appeals out of Los Angeles County are sent to the Second District Court of Appeal, which is also located in Los Angeles.

Step 3: Submit an Opening Brief

The appeals court will set a schedule for when all briefs are due. Your lawyer will have 45 days to file an opening brief. This legal document explains what happened at trial, why the judgment was wrong, and why the appeals court should reverse the trial court’s decision. This brief must inform the appellate court of the material legal mistake that occurred at trial.

Step 4: The Respondent’s Brief

The government may also file a brief in response to your appeal. They may argue that there was no legal mistake made at the trial court level and the original conviction should stand.

Step 5: Reply to the Brief

Your attorney will have an opportunity to file a response to the government’s brief. This response can directly address any arguments made by the government and further explain your circumstances.

Step 6: Oral Arguments

Although not all criminal appeals go through oral arguments, either party can request them. The appellate court’s panel of three judges may also require them. During oral arguments, the facts of the case are not the focus. Instead, the arguments made in the briefs are discussed and the parties answer the judges’ questions.

Step 7: The Appeal Decision

After the panel of judges reviews the briefs and hears oral arguments, they will make a decision. The appellate court may affirm the trial court’s decision, reverse the decision, or remand your case back to the trial court. If your case is remanded, the trial court will have to hear arguments again and make a new judgment while avoiding previous errors and mistakes.

Step 8: Requesting a Rehearing

If the appellate court does not decide in your favor, you can ask for a rehearing from the court within 14 days of their decision. This is necessary if you think the court’s decision was based on an issue not presented in the briefs or the court’s opinion left out a material fact or issue.

Step 9: Request a Review

If your case presents a novel issue in the law or there is a constitutional violation or error, you can file a petition for review by a higher court. This is necessary if you wish to take your case to the Supreme Court or file a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus.

The Writ Process

The writ process is similar to, but separate from, the appeals process. Your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can file a petition for a certain writ if there is an issue that cannot be addressed upon appeal.

A writ is a command by the court to another party. An attorney does not write or file writs. Instead, they file a petition for a writ, which asks the court to hand down a writ to a court, government agency, or official.

Common writs that Los Angeles appeals attorney Aaron Spolin uses in cases include:

  • Writ of Habeas Corpus – This challenges a person’s detention by a government agency.
  • Writ of Mandamus – This tells a court or public official to perform a certain act.
  • Writ of Prohibition – This stops a court or public official from performing certain acts.
  • Writ of Quo Warranto – This challenges a person’s right to hold public office.
  • Writ of Error Coram Nobis – This allows the court to correct a material mistake that was not part of the trial record.
  • Writ of Certiorari – This enables certain appellate courts to hear cases from lower courts. When your lawyer takes your case to the Supreme Court, a petition for this type of writ is made.
  1. How to Win an Appeal in General
  2. Los Angeles Appellate Courthouses
  3. Deadlines for Second District and Ninth Circuit Appeals
  4. Effective Arguments in Overturning Convictions
  5. The Importance of a Criminal Appeals Lawyer

The Importance of a Criminal Appeals Lawyer

Lawyers Aaron Spolin and Don Nguyen discuss strategy for an appellate case.

Lawyers Aaron Spolin and Don Nguyen discuss strategy for an appellate case.

There are many criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles, but few of them have successfully appealed cases to higher courts. Criminal appeals require strategies that must be carefully crafted to show there was a material mistake made at the lower court level. Without such a showing, your case may be denied, and you will be without recourse.

Los Angeles criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin has a track record of success. While prior success does not guarantee future success, an attorney’s record matters. Mr. Spolin’s firm, and the attorneys who work there, fight to win each case by taking the follow steps, when appropriate:

  • Finding errors in the court record,
  • Explaining the rights violations that occurred,
  • Arguing to overturn the conviction or reduce the sentence, and
  • Fighting to Win any given case.

To speak to one of our attorneys at Spolin Law P.C., call us at (310) 424-5816.