Los Angeles Federal Appeals Lawyers
The average citizen doesn’t have more than a basic idea of what is involved in a trial. What is often depicted on television is much different than a real federal criminal appeals trial. While there is much information available online about appeals, it is still quite confusing to many. Each state has its own appellate system in place. Below are some things to understand about federal criminal appeals.
What Are Federal Criminal appeals?
An appeal is a legal process in which a criminal conviction or sentence gets reviewed by another, higher court. There is no constitutional right for criminal cases to be appealed. However, each state has their own established system for appeals and the job of the court is to make sure the law is applied correctly. There are two district courts that often hear appeals. The Supreme Court only hears less than 100 cases a year. Most appeals are heard by district courts.
Federal appeals District Courts
Within the federal system, there are thirteen courts that hear appeals. Each circuit oversees a specific region in the United States, except for the Federal Circuit. They play no role in appeals for criminal cases.
What Happens During The appeals Process For Federal Criminal Cases?
To begin the appeals process, a defendant needs to wait until they receive a final judgment in their case. Federal courts typically do not hear appeals before final judgments are given. To be eligible for an appeal, it needs to be filed within 14 days of the final judgment. Courts will often deny an appeal if the time limit has passed.
Once filed, there will be entered a schedule for the filing briefs. Once they are submitted with the courts, both attorneys must submit their arguments for reversing or affirming the judgment. These need to be presented completely and clearly or the judge may refuse to consider them.
The appeals court will often get divided into panels of judges to review the briefs, review the records and make a decision on the case. Most criminal appeals held in the federal courts get decided based on the briefs without oral arguments included. An oral argument is not a solid indication that your case appeal will be successful. However, most federal criminal appeals are never reversed without oral arguments included. Once the process has been completed, the appeals court will give a written decision that includes their opinions and reasoning.
How Long Is The Federal Criminal appeals Process?
The appeals process can be lengthy. The actual length will vary between circuits. The Fourth Circuit court will review and have it resolved in around nine months to one year. For other circuits, it can take much longer for federal criminal appeals to be resolved. If a case is more complex and involves a larger record load, it can take even longer.
Possible Outcomes For appeals
Essentially, the appeals court will either reverse or affirm the judgment from a trial court. When a judgment gets reversed, additional instructions will be included that will either instruct the court to dismiss the original charges or hold a new trial. Keep in mind, it is extremely rare for a federal criminal case to be reversed.
What Can Be Argued By Defendant During The appeals Process?
As can be seen, an appeal is much different than a trial. It is not a forum to have a decision of guilt or innocence to be made. Instead, the appeals process allows the courts to decide whether the law was applied correctly and determine if a new trial is warranted.
Considerations To Be Made For appeals Process:
•Standard of Review- This is how the appeals court will treat the previous trial court’s decision. It will be decided as a clear error or an abuse of discretion.
•Error Preservation- This refers to whether the error was properly objected to in the trial court. When done properly, the issue for an appeal has been “preserved” appropriately.
•Prejudice- To have a reversal of an appeal won, it must be proven a trial court made errors that impacted the outcome of the original trial.
The federal appeals process is a lot more complicated than you probably realize. Most of us don’t spend a ton of time thinking about the federal courts, and when we do we often get things wrong. We have been informed by the media and legal dramas about the courts and how they work, and so much of that information is wildly wrong. In this piece we seek to correct the record a little bit and help people understand a bit more about their federal appeals court system.
This Is Not A Second Chance Court
The point of an appeal is not to give the defendant a second chance at winning their case. The real point of it is to correct any legal issues that may arise from rulings made by lower courts. It is easy for a lower court to make a mistake with some technical part of the procedural process of court at some point along the way. Avoiding this mistake is critical to getting justice to every defendant.
appeals Courts Do Not Generally Change Rulings
District courts hold a lot of power given that their rulings are typically what goes when it comes to the legal process. People like to think that they have extra opportunities to appeal their case until they get a favorable ruling, but that is not really the case. You get your first shot in the district court, and then as long as nothing goes wrong there you are probably stuck with that ruling. The appeals courts can only correct technical and procedural issues made by lower courts.
Oral Arguments Are Unlikely To Happen
Do you long for the opportunity to get before the court so that you may make your case to a real person who will understand where you are coming from? That is a nice sentiment, and it is probably not going to happen. You are very likely to only have the opportunity to submit written testimony and documents to the court for them to review. Does this seem unfair? Perhaps so, but the courts do not have the time to have oral arguments held for each and every case that is appealed to them.
There is about a 75% chance that you will not get to the speak to the appeals court at all. The sooner that you realize this, the sooner you can begin to plan your next move.
Relief From The appeals Court Can Be Temporary
Winning an argument at the appeals court level does not guarantee that the case will be thrown out at all. In fact, this happens very rarely. Instead, most clients are given a bit of relief on some particular legal issue that they have brought to the court. You may not even be all that thrilled with the ruling that you end up getting. You may be in the same or even a worse position than you were before when it is all said and done. appeals courts have the ability to rule just how they want to, and you may not be pleased with the outcome.
These appeals Are Expensive
Do not think for a minute that you are getting a free ride to launch your appeal. Many lawyers actually charge more money for the appeals process than they do for the original trial. You might as well prepare for a financial hit when you start to get involved in the appeals process. This is very likely where things are going to go for you once it gets started.
The appeals courts still serve an important role in our legal system despite some of their frustrations and flaws. Therefore, you should try to look at things from both sides of the coin and make a judgement about what is right for your particular case. Should you appeal or not? It depends largely on the circumstances of your case.