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What You Need to Know About Federal Criminal Appeals
Understanding how federal criminal appeals work will help ease your mind during the process. The entire process can take a year or two to result in a decision on your case because appellate judges have a lot of cases they need to review. They need to read the transcript and research other cases while considering the legal arguments you make in your brief to give a proper response. It’s tough waiting a long time, but remember it’s better that they take their time with each case than rush through them.
In order to have the highest chance of getting your sentence reversed, you should choose an experienced federal criminal appeals lawyer who is good at writing briefs and orally arguing when necessary. Although there is a lot you need to know about federal criminal appeals, three of the most important things to give you a basic understanding of how they work are:
Appellate Courts Only Consider If Legal Errors Took Place
Many people make the mistake of thinking of a federal criminal appeal as a second trial. Sometimes, you will be granted a second trial when your appeal is approved, but this will most likely not be the case. Your appeal may be resolved entirely through writing.
It’s important to understand the purpose of an appeal to provide an effective briefing, which is a document you’ll need a skilled appellate attorney to handle. An appeal raises legal errors that took place during your trial to fight the judgment. As the appellate judges consider the legal arguments raised in the appeal, they may look over the evidence relevant to those arguments. The appellate court doesn’t receive new evidence.
You Can Send a Notice of Appeal Before Hiring an Appellate Attorney
Because you only have 10 days after judgment to sent a notice of appeal, you should do so immediately. Don’t worry about finding the right appellate attorney before sending a notice of appeal. The notice of appeal is different from the appeal. It lets the court know that you want to appeal. As such, it’s only a one to two page document.
You can have the lawyer who represented you in court send the notice of appeal for you even if you’re not choosing them as your appellate attorney. Lawyers are ethically obligated to do this for their clients upon request. They can either send the notice of appeal for you or file a pro se notice and help you file it in the appropriate court. A pro se notice simply means you submit the notice on your own. Once you have your notice of appeal sent, you can find a skilled appellate attorney to represent you in your appeal.
If you are unsure you want to appeal, you should still send a notice of appeal. You aren’t obligated to follow through with it.
Most Appeals Aren’t Orally Argued
Cited by the U.S. Courts’ statistics, 74 percent of federal appellate cases were resolved without oral argument in 2007. Many people have the misconception that they’ll get to orally argue their appeal. If the appellate judges think a legal argument raised in the briefing warrants oral argument, then you will be given the chance.
When an appeal is solved without oral argument, you receive a responsive brief that answers each legal argument you had raised in the brief. The appellee will support legal arguments and factual assertions with citations to cases, the transcript, and the evidence.
Most federal courts allow the appellant to write a reply brief to the appellee’s responsive brief. Federal courts also have strict requirements regarding paper size, fonts, binding and formatting of the briefs.
It’s possible for a sentence to be reversed without the need for argument, but these cases are rare.
Carefully Choose a Federal Criminal Appeals lawyer
When it comes to choosing a federal criminal appeals lawyer, you want to find someone who has excellent research, writing and persuasive skills. They not only need to argue points persuasively through writing but orally too in the event the appellate judges give them a chance for oral argument.