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Many people are often curious about the federal criminal appeals process. It’s a good topic to address as there are many misconceptions about what the process is and what it is set out to accomplish. The most common misconception is that the process is designed to be a rehearing of the original case. The fact of the matter is that the merits of the case aren’t debated nor is it a venue to present new evidence that wasn’t available or presented in the initial case. It’s simply to argue the court’s decision on a case or a court order that is believed to have been made in error. This informative article will take a deeper look into the federal criminal appeals process and how it works.
Many people are concerned about the short period of time that they must file the appeal. Another common misconception is that the appeal must be filed within 10 days. This time period is simply to notify the court that an appeal will be filed rather than the actual filing itself. If you’re facing significant penalties or jail time and believe that the court made an error, you’ll need to get in touch with a qualified federal criminal appeals attorney as quickly as possible. Filing the paperwork on your own or waiting until the last minute is never advised. Even just to file the notice, work is required by your attorney, and they’ll need a reasonable amount of time to review the case and file the notice.
If you happen to be in a pinch and the notice of appeal must be filed immediately, Google can be helpful; however, it will still be necessary to formally retain an attorney as quickly as possible. You’re certainly able to represent yourself in this matter; however, this comes with numerous pitfalls and navigating the federal criminal appeals process can be challenging, even for the best attorneys. Whatever you do, don’t surpass the 10 days to file a notice. It’ll be difficult to convince the court that you’re deserving of an appeal after you’ve disregarded their process, even if unintentionally.
For no other reason than the courts being busy, the appeals process can take many months or even over a year to be heard. The good news is that more likely than not, your case will be heard “on the briefs.” A brief is a formally written legal document that is used to present the facts of the case and where the attorney feels the legal errors may have taken place. It’s supported with evidence that’s been presented at trial and the transcript of the trial as it was presented. The appellee can respond to the brief with their own questions and present their own arguments.
Case law is cited to support the argument for the appellant. Since our legal system takes previous decisions in cases into account, it’s important that there’s another court that’s set a precedent in ruling on a similar matter. No matter how great the legal argument is, chances aren’t likely if no other court has considered the requested action in another proceeding. This is one of the reasons a highly skilled federal criminal appeals attorney is a necessity.
While our courts allow for non-lawyers to have access to the courts and present their own cases, it’s typically ill-advised in this high-level appeal. The courts expect non-lawyers to follow procedures and present their cases in the same manner as an attorney would. Legal materials are available, and often for free; however, many of these materials are outdated and may be rendered useless. A skilled attorney has the resources and educational background needed to navigate the complex federal criminal appeals process. If you’re needing to consider an attorney for your case, get in touch with our offices and we’ll be happy to review your case to see if we can help.