A criminal conviction isn’t the end of the judicial proceedings. You can choose to fight the conviction through the Court of Appeals. Alternatively, you can file a motion for post-conviction relief, which is different from an appeal.
There are four major reasons for filing an appeal:
- The lower court made a serious error of law (plain error);
- The weight of the evidence does not support the verdict;
- The lower court abused its discretion in making an errant ruling;
- The claim of ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment.
So-called harmless errors, which do not affect the defendant’s substantial rights, are not grounds for an appeal. The first step in navigating post-conviction law is to contact an experienced criminal appeal attorney and discuss whether the matter is grounds for appeal.
Criminal Appeal Attorneys
The criminal appeals process involves numerous steps and is more complicated than the original trial. Although you could represent yourself pro se, it is highly inadvisable. Even the smallest mistake or misunderstanding of post-conviction law could negatively impact your appeal.
A person considering a criminal appeal should seek advice and counsel from an experienced criminal appeal attorney. The attorneys at The Sichta Firm are well versed in the intricacies of post-conviction law and have successfully achieved reversals of numerous death sentences, as well as non-capital reversals.
When navigating the appeals process, you want a criminal appeal attorney with experience and a proven track record. Super Lawyers, an attorney rating service, has identified The Sichta Firm as being Rising Stars—a distinction given to only 2.5 percent of Florida attorneys under age 40. We specialize in post-conviction law, including direct appeals and collateral appeals (post-conviction petitions). Contact the knowledgeable criminal appeal attorneys of The Sichta Firm today about your criminal appeal proceeding.
The Criminal Appeals Process
There is usually a strict deadline of 30 days to file a criminal appeal. If you miss it, your case will not be reviewed. The filing is done with the Clerk of the Court where the case was originally decided. At the time of filing, filing fees will be collected.
After filing a Notice of Appeal, a record of your case must be prepared by the clerk of the trial court and forwarded to the appellate court. The appellant is responsible for ensuring all necessary documents and transcripts are included. If transcripts are to be included, the appellant must make arrangements with the court reporter. Generally, appellants have 10 days to issue their instructions regarding the Record.
Filing a criminal appeal is not a chance to present new evidence. Instead, it is an opportunity to explain why the original court’s decision should be affirmed or reversed. This explanation is laid out via an appellate briefing—a document that explains the legal arguments regarding the court’s interpretation of the law or its application of the law to the facts of the particular case.
In some cases, appeals also involve oral arguments. Either party may request that the court allow the appellant and appellee to appear in person to argue their position and to answer any questions the judges might have.
The appellate court will then issue a written decision regarding the disposition of the appeal. The decision may be accompanied by an opinion explaining the court’s decision. In most cases, the decision in a Florida appeals case will be issued less than six months after oral arguments are heard, and less than 12 months after the initial filing.
For more resources, click here.
Awards and Recognition
Learn about our board-certified criminal appellate attorneys.