How to Win an Appeal in General

Aaron Spolin

San Diego criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin has a track record of success in San Diego County and the surrounding area.

Your attorney must do more than prove you were not guilty in order to win an appeal. They must show that there was a mistake made at the original trial that warrants reconsideration of your conviction.

Award-winning San Diego criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin has a record of success with criminal appeals and writs. Mr. Spolin knows this is an important issue to you and those who care about you. He and his team will work hard to achieve your goals through a criminal appeal.

Mr. Spolin explains the steps that Spolin Law P.C. takes when seeking an appeal for their clients:

  1. Find Errors in the Case: Your team at Spolin Law P.C. will review transcripts from the trial and pretrial hearing to determine exactly what happened in front of the judge. Appeals are won by finding mistakes made by a previous lawyer, improper statements by a judge or prosecutor, and legal errors during the trial. We will find out if any factual or legal mistakes violated your rights and make strong arguments on appeal.
  2. Make Arguments Based on the Law: Many arguments can be made when appealing your case. Spolin Law P.C. will develop the best arguments that are based on court procedure and state or federal law, depending on which venue your case is being heard in. If you were convicted in a California state court, then your appeal will be based on state statutes. However, if you were convicted in a federal court, then we will use federal law to make your appeal.
  3. Establish Full or Partial Innocence: While your appeal should be based on legal and factual arguments, we can also make an emotional plea to the judge. Your criminal appeal lawyer from Spolin Law P.C. will strive to prove you are not guilty and the legal system failed in harming an innocent person.
  4. Achieve Release from Incarceration: In some cases, you may be released from imprisonment while your appeal is pending. Spolin Law P.C.’s legal team seeks freedom for their clients while the court is considering cases on appeal.

The experienced attorneys that work with Mr. Spolin take these steps to fight for successful appeals. To learn more about the appeal process, contact the Spolin Law P.C. team at (310) 424-5816.

  1. How to Win an Appeal in General
  2. San Diego Appellate Courthouses
  3. Deadlines for the Fourth District and Ninth Circuit Appeals
  4. Effective Arguments in Overturning Convictions
  5. Why You Need a Criminal Appeals Lawyer

Criminal Appeal Courthouses in San Diego

San Diego Courthouse

San Diego courts have specific preferences for how they operate. It’s important to work with attorneys like those at Spolin Law P.C., who know local judges, clerks, and court personnel.

Your criminal case may have been originally heard in the San Diego County Superior Court Criminal Division if you faced state charges or the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California if you faced federal charges. However, if you were convicted and want to appeal your case, then it will be heard in a higher-level appeals court.

Fourth District Court of Appeals (for Criminal Appeals)

As an intermediate court of review, the Courts of Appeal exercise mandatory reviews of appealable orders or judgments from a superior court, except when the death penalty was the sentence, in which case only the Supreme Court has jurisdiction.

The 4th District Court of Appeal has three divisions, with Division One being located in San Diego. Division Two is located in San Bernardino, and Division Three is located in Santa Ana. Six Counties are served by the Fourth District, including Inyo, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, and Imperial. Division One in San Diego handles all court matters in Imperial and San Diego Counties. The other four counties are split between Divisions Two and Three.

Division One is located in San Diego and can be reached at the following:

Symphony Towers
750 B Street, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92101

Phone: (213) 830-7000

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

Some of the busiest Imperial County and San Diego County courthouses that feed into the Fourth District Court of Appeal include New El Centro Courthouse, Brawley Courthouse, Central Courthouse, East County Regional Courthouse, North County Regional Center, and South County Regional Center.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal (for Criminal Appeals)

If you were convicted of a federal crime in a federal courthouse in San Diego, your case can be appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court for the Ninth District. The Ninth Circuit includes several states and territories, including California, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and Guam. There is more than one courthouse located in those areas.

If you appeal a criminal case from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, your case will initially be 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

If you don’t agree with a decision made at the Circuit Court level, you can request that the Supreme Court of the United States 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 court.

Other Federal District Courts that also feed into the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal include District Courts in the Northern, Central, and Eastern Districts of California, as well as nearby Western states, Hawaii, Alaska, and the territory of Guam.

  1. How to Win an Appeal in General
  2. San Diego Appellate Courthouses
  3. Deadlines for the Fourth District and Ninth Circuit Appeals
  4. Effective Arguments in Overturning Convictions
  5. Why You Need a Criminal Appeals Lawyer

State & Federal Appeal Deadlines

It’s important to find a criminal appeals lawyer quickly after a wrongful conviction. You have to meet specific deadlines when filing an appeal. If you fail to take immediate action, you may forfeit your right to an appeal, regardless of how strong your case is.

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (San Diego)

The Fourth District Court of Appeals, located in San Diego, requires a Notice of Appeal within a short time of a final judgment in a California Superior Court. If you were convicted of a felony in San Diego or Imperial Counties, then you have 60 days after the court judgment to file a Notice of Appeal. The Notice of Appeal is filed in the lower court – San Diego County Superior Court or Imperial County Superior Court.

You must file a misdemeanor conviction appeal within 30 days after the court’s decision. The Notice of Appeal must be filed with the Criminal Department of the court where the original case was heard.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (San Diego)

Appeals to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, located in San Diego, require that a Notice of Appeal must be filed within 14 days of the entry of the lower court’s decision. The deadline may be extended based on good cause or excusable neglect. Further, the District Court judge may extend the deadline to file a Notice of Appeal for up to 30 days from the initial deadline.

Although the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handles federal case appeals, a Notice of Appeal is typically filed with the Federal District Court in the Southern District of California. This court is located in San Diego in two buildings.

The Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse is located at:

221 West Broadway
San Diego, California 92101

Phone: (619) 557-5600

The U.S. Courthouse Annex is located across the street at:

James M. Carter & Judith N. Keep U.S. Courthouse
333 West Broadway
San Diego, California 92101

Phone: (619) 557-5600

There are post-conviction motions that also have deadlines. Those motions must be filed within 14 days of a 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 on Rehearing En Banc

If a motion or petition is not granted, then your San Diego federal criminal appeals lawyer can file a Notice of Appeal in your case.

Deadlines for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

A writ of habeas corpus is a type of appeal that has a different deadline from traditional appeals. For state inmates convicted in San Diego County, a writ of habeas corpus would be filed in either Federal District Court for the Southern District of California or San Diego Superior Court. A federal writ of habeas corpusmust be filed 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 brought to light in the writ (or after the issue should have been discovered).

Writs of habeas corpus are extremely complex and require in-depth knowledge of law and process. You should speak with a San Diego criminal appeals attorney if you are considering this option. The San Diego criminal appeal lawyers at Spolin Law P.C. are available to discuss your case at (310) 424-5816.

Release from Incarceration

The criminal appeals process can take time. In fact, according to the Judicial Council of California Court Statistics Report, it can take more than 500 days to get a decision on an appeal. While you are waiting, Spolin Law P.C. will request that you are released from prison.

The court will consider many factors when determining if releasing you on bail is appropriate. Those factors include the following:

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

There is no Constitutional right to release while your criminal appeal is pending. However, 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. San Diego Appellate Courthouses
  3. Deadlines for the Fourth District and Ninth Circuit Appeals
  4. Effective Arguments in Overturning Convictions
  5. Why You Need a Criminal Appeals Lawyer

Effective Arguments to Overturn Convictions

Spolin Law P.C. has used countless arguments to support criminal appeals. Some of the most effective include the following:

If you are interested in how these arguments can be used in your case, contact the Spolin Law P.C. criminal appeals team at (310) 424-5816.

The Appeals Process for San Diego County Convictions

A conviction in state court in San Diego County will lead to the following traditional appeal process. (Note that federal convictions follow a similar timeline, but 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 legal document that states you are appealing your criminal conviction. It must be submitted within a certain timeframe and in the same court where you were convicted.

Step 2: Obtain a Trial Transcript

There was a court reporter present at your criminal trial at the Superior Court level. They will prepare a full transcript of your case, which will include all testimony and evidence submitted during the trial. Spolin Law P.C. will obtain this trial transcript and review it to determine if any errors were made in your case. Transcripts are also sent to the Court of Appeal for that district. Felony appeals in San Diego County are sent to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, which is also located in San Diego.

Step 3: Submit an Opening Brief

Your appeals lawyer will have 45 days to file an opening brief with the Appeals Court, which will set a schedule for when briefs are due. The opening brief explains what happened at trial and why the trial court’s decision was wrong. It also lays out why the appeals court should reverse the decision of the lower court. It must assert a material legal mistake that occurred at trial.

Step 4: The Respondent’s Brief

The government may file a brief in response to your appeal. If they agree with the decision of the lower court, they will likely argue that there were no legal mistakes at the trial court level and the original conviction should stand.

Step 5: Reply to the Brief

You have an option to submit a reply brief to the government’s brief. This gives you the opportunity to directly address any arguments they made.

Step 6: Oral Arguments

Not all criminal appeals have oral arguments, but either party may request them. In some cases, the appellate court’s panel of three judges request them to clarify matters. If oral arguments take place, the attorneys discuss the arguments made in their briefs and answer questions from the judges.

Step 7: The Appeal Decision

After the judges review briefs and hear oral arguments, they make a decision. They may affirm the trial court’s decision, reverse the decision, or remand your case back to the trial court for further consideration. If your case is sent back to the trial court, your appeals attorney will present arguments again and a new judgment will be made avoiding previous errors.

Step 8: Requesting a Rehearing

If the judges in the appellate court do not find it in your favor, you can ask for a rehearing within 14 days of their decision. This can be helpful if you think there was 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 the appellate court denies your rehearing and your case presents a novel issue in the law or there was a Constitutional violation or error, then you can petition for review by the Supreme Court.

Seeking a Writ in Your Case

If there is an issue in your case that cannot be addressed upon appeal, then your San Diego criminal appeals attorney may utilize the writ process.

A writ is a command by the court to another party. By filing a petition for a writ, you are asking the court to issue a command to a court, government agency, or official.

Common writs that San Diego appeals attorney Aaron Spolin uses in cases include:

  • Writ of Habeas Corpus – Challenging the defendant’s detention by a government agency.
  • Writ of Mandamus – Telling a court or public official to perform a certain act.
  • Writ of Prohibition – Stopping a court or public official from performing certain acts.
  • Writ of Quo Warranto – Challenging a person’s right to hold public office.
  • Writ of Error Coram Nobis – Allowing the court to correct a material mistake at trial.
  • Writ of Certiorari – Enabling appellate courts to hear cases from lower courts. If 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. San Diego Appellate Courthouses
  3. Deadlines for the Fourth District and Ninth Circuit Appeals
  4. Effective Arguments in Overturning Convictions
  5. Why You Need a Criminal Appeals Lawyer

Why You Need a San Diego Appeals Lawyer

San Diego criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin and his team have proven strategies to win appeals cases.

San Diego criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin and his team have proven strategies to win appeals cases. Contact them at (310) 424-5816.

There are many criminal appeals lawyers in San Diego, but not many of them know how to successfully handle appeals cases in higher courts. Criminal appeals require the use of strategies that are carefully crafted to show there was a material mistake in the way your case was handled at the lower court level.

Award-winning San Diego criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin and his legal team have a track record of success. Although prior success does not guarantee a win in every case, it does matter when understanding how to develop arguments at the appellate court level. Mr. Spolin’s firm, and the attorneys who work there, fight to win every case with the following steps:

  • Identifying errors in the court record
  • Establishing violations of rights that occurred
  • Arguing to overturn the conviction or reduce the sentence
  • Striving to win any given case

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