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If you were convicted of a federal crime at trial, there are various reasons why you might be able to win on appeal. One of the reasons is that there was actually not sufficient evidence to convict you of a crime. In addition, it is possible that your rights were violated before or during the trial. You could have also been subjected to misconduct by the government in prosecuting the case against you, such as witness tampering or withholding evidence that would have helped you prove your innocence. Whatever the reason you decide to file a federal criminal appeal, there will be serious legal research and analysis involved in figuring out whether the conviction should be overturned.

A seasoned appellate attorney can explain to you which issues on appeal require that there was a harmful effect on the defendant’s final judgment. Some mistakes at the trial court level automatically mean that the defendant gets a new trial or their conviction reversed. This is why it is helpful to discuss all of the details of your case early on with an appellate attorney.

How to File a Federal Criminal Appeal

Every defendant who is convicted of a crime in a federal case is entitled to the right to appeal the final judgment. It starts by filing a notice of appeal. You should speak to a defense lawyer about this process because the deadline when the notice must be filed depends on the date that the judgment or sentence became final. It is never a good idea to miss the deadline to file a notice of appeal.

The Applicable Rules in a Federal Criminal Appeal

There are rules of federal appellate procedure that must be followed when you file a federal criminal appeal. These are different from the rules of procedure that had to be followed in the district court during the criminal trial. The first task that requires an understanding of the appellate rules is filing the notice of appeal on time.

There will be different standards of review that apply to how the appellate court evaluates what happened in the district court. This will depend on the case law that is on point and is often a point of contention between the parties.

Who Decides a Federal Criminal Appeal?

There is a panel of judges in the circuit court who hear the parties’ arguments and rule on the final outcome of the appeal. They base their decision on the record from the trial court below, the briefs filed by the parties and possibly oral arguments. They hardly ever consider new evidence from either side that was not presented for the first time in the criminal trial. The appellate judges issue a written order with their final decision.

Getting Ready for a Federal Criminal Appeal

After a notice of appeal is filed to open your case in the circuit court, the record from the trial court will be collected. This includes the transcripts from the district court trial, any reports filed by experts, evidence and exhibits that were submitted to the judge and/or jury for deliberation, the jury instructions and any other items that were admitted during the initial trial. The district court record is referenced by both parties in putting together their arguments on appeal, which are summarized in their appellate briefs.

The best thing you can do to prepare for a federal criminal appeal is to interview an attorney who often takes this type of case. You need legal guidance you can trust to make sure that you meet all deadlines and are aware of all the issues involved in a worthwhile federal criminal appeal. Speaking with a criminal attorney early in the process is advisable because it is your best chance at staying on top of the process.

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