If a defendant makes it to the point after a criminal trial where he is considering the federal criminal appeals process, that means that he has been convicted of a crime and wants to have that conviction reversed. This is no simple task. This introduction to the general expectations during the federal criminal appeals process will show you that an appeal necessitates working with skilled legal representation to find significant errors that happened during the criminal trial. You should be mentally prepared for the potential outcomes to decide whether you would rather pursue some other form of relief via post-conviction motions.
What Differentiates Federal Criminal Appeals from District Court Trials
The district court trial depends on testimony and evidence of the crime presented in front of a judge and/or jury in court. During the federal criminal appeals process, the defendant and the government write and file briefs and motions to argue their points. Instead of questioning witnesses about the evidence presented of the crime, lawyers for both sides in the federal criminal appeals process perform legal research and analysis for potential ways to have the conviction either upheld or overturned.
There are different standards by which the panel of judges in the federal criminal appeals process judges whether the trial court committed a significant error that harmed the defendant’s case in a serious way. The lowest level of scrutiny is an abuse of discretion, which means that the trial court judge just had to make a very unreasonable decision for it to be the basis for an appeal. The highest level of scrutiny by the panel of judges is reviewing the trial court judge’s ruling on an issue pursuant to the appellate court judges’ own interpretation of the applicable law or rule.
Some Misconceptions About Federal Criminal Appeals
Many defendants think that an appeal depends on the judges seeing the evidence a new way or examining evidence that did not make it into the district court trial. This is not the case. The federal criminal appeal depends on the panel of judges considering any legal errors that the defense contends occurred in the district court and prejudiced the outcome of the case.
Understanding the Possible Outcomes for a Federal Criminal Appeal
In addition to the complexity of the legal process, one of the things that many defendants find upsetting about the federal criminal appeals process is that it takes a long time for the case to be resolved. There is no set timeline for an ultimate decision from the panel of appellate judges, although the circuit court clerk does set a schedule for when all of the briefs must be filed. The appellate judges make their final decision on their own time instead of in front of the parties in a courtroom.
Your federal criminal appeal may be successful in getting your conviction reversed, but this could mean that you still have to go through the district court trial process again like it never happened. You may not exactly want this outcome because a new trial could wind up with you being found guilty again because the prosecution can perfect its case against you.
How to Retain Competent Legal Counsel for Federal Criminal Appeals
Before you decide whether or not the federal criminal appeals is something you want to pursue, you should talk to a federal criminal appeals lawyer. One of the major benefits of retaining a knowledgeable federal criminal appeals attorney is that you will find out what possibilities exist for you to pursue a potential federal criminal appeal in your case. This can save you significant time and frustration. Be sure to schedule a consultation with a federal criminal appeals attorney who regularly represents defendants in the federal criminal appeals process because it is a unique and demanding area of criminal law.