Filing an Appeal When Convicted of a Crime
Just because you are found guilty in your criminal case does not necessarily mean that your case is over. If you believe that you have been subject to a wrongful conviction, you do have the option to either move for a new trial or seek an appeal.
An appeal would send your case to a higher court, which would then review the decision made by the lower court in your case. You have the option to either challenge the conviction made by the lower court, or the sentence without arguing the conviction. Successful appeals typically bring a case back to its early stages, but may occasionally bring the case to an end completely.
To get a better sense of how an appeals court works, it’s important to understand the way that state courts are set up. There is basically a three-level hierarchy in state courts: the first level is standard trial courts. The second level is an intermediate appellate court, generally comprising three judges. The third level is the state supreme court, comprising anywhere from seven to nine judges. You have the right to submit your appeal to the intermediate court as long as you do it within certain time limits.
During the appeals process, your lawyer will file a brief that claims that there were certain errors in your case that warrant a reversal of the decision, or a reduction of the sentence you face. The government will then issue a brief in response, and the appellate court may choose to hear arguments from each side. Eventually, the court will hand down a decision that will either reverse or uphold the lower court’s decision.
For more information on how the appeals process works, consult Reading criminal defense attorney David R. Eshelman.