Appeals Process

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Describing the appeals process|

An appeal in the criminal law system is a defendant’s way of challenging the court’s decision. In this paper I will discuss what an appeal is, how it factors into the overall procedures and process of the criminal system. How the appeals process may be improved. Steps in the appeals process and an example case of an appeal. And why the example case appeal did or did not succeed. Introduction

A defendant can challenge is conviction by filling an appeal to have the conviction overturned. The first appeal filed in most cases in the Federal System and most State Court systems is an appeal of the Statutory Right. If they lose the appeals under the statutory right they may then appeal to the State Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court. But in most cases a defendant does not have the right to file such an appeal. The Supreme Court must agree to hear the defendant’s case. But defendant needs to remember that an Appeals Court is not automatically required to review a case.

What is an appeal?
An appeal is a petition to a higher court for review of a case that has already been decided by a lower court of law. The petition is made for the purpose of having the lower court’s decision overturned.

How do appeals factor into the overall criminal procedures and processes? Merely filing an appeal does not automatically mean that a defendant will find it easy to have the court decision reversed. It is imperative that the defendant shows the court in the appeals process that the initial decision was incorrect or flawed in some way. This can be done by proving that the previous decision was made in error, or by bringing to light new evidence that was not offered in the initial trial. Defendants need to know that appellate courts each have rules that control the appellate process. These rules are firm, and cover steps in the appeal and time limits. Appellate courts usually aren't forgiving and flexible if you don't follow the rules. Each state usually has their own rules for filing an appeal but there basic appeals procedures that the Federal and State Courts do follow. Failure to follow the rules can result in an appeals dismissal. List of Basic Appeal Procedures

Notice of Appeal: The document that you file to get the appeal started. Filed usually 10 to 30 days after the conviction (check state laws). Filing the notice of appeal is a crucial step in the appeal process because takes the case out of the trial court's authority or jurisdiction. Obtaining Transcript: A record that consists of the trial court transcript, original pleadings, exhibits and docket entries. It is up to the appealing party to make sure the right parts are ordered and paid for. This is the record that the parties and appellate court look at on appeal. Filing Briefs: The appellant must write a brief containing a summary of the facts and issues and an argument of why the lower court was wrong. The appellant's brief must be filed usually within 40 days after the record was filed. The appellee can write a response brief and file it within 30 days from when the appellant's brief was served or delivered. All Briefs must be filed with an appendix that references the following: All relevant docket entries, relevant portions of the pleadings, the charge(s), the finding or opinion, the final order or decision and any parts of the record that may be referred to in the arguments. Although the appeals process does offer hope, one should not be fooled into thinking the process is an easy one. As you can tell the appeals process can be long, drawn out and at time can takes months before the court comes to a new decision. An appellate court is based on the law not on any facts so a defense attorney cannot argue the facts presented during the case or that you were found guilty and you believe you are innocent. Appeals factor in to the overall criminal justice procedure, because they...
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