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Attorney Profiles

Todd Spodek (Managing Partner)

Mr. Spodek decided early on in his life to focus his education and experience on trial work. Todd Spodek attended Northeastern University in Boston, MA and majored in criminal justice. This background provided an indispensable tool in the representation of criminal defendants in grand jury investigations, pre-trial hearings, trial, appeals and navigating the corrections process.…

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Federal Criminal Appeals

Federal U. S. District Courts hear criminal cases involving violations of federal laws. The U.S. Federal Court System is a three-tier system with U.S. Courts of Appeals reviewing the decisions of the U. S. District Courts and a U. S. Supreme Court which reviews appellate court and state supreme court decisions. Federal criminal appeals rarely over turn convictions. A guilty verdict on some charges can be appealed by a motion for the trial judge to reconsider the jury verdict or order a new trial. Our federal criminal defense attorney is admitted to Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City. Our lawyer can file an appeal to a three-judge panel in the appellate court if it’s possible to demonstrate that the judge who convicted you made a mistake or did not consider specific material facts.

Federal Rule 32 Sentencing and Judgment

Federal Rule 32 Sentencing and Judgment requires sentencing without delay. A presentence investigation by the pretrial services or probation officer starts with an interview of the defendant. The officer writes a presentence report to the judge and the defendant’s attorney recommending a reasonable sentence within federal court guidelines. The report tells the defendant’s criminal history, the severity of the current offense, and the type of treatment or counseling the defendant needs. It recommends alternative sentences and states the amount of restitution that the defendant owes.

Federal Court Judgment

A federal court judgment is a conviction, a plea, or a jury or judge’s verdict and the defendant’s sentence. The judge signs the judgment, and the clerk enters it. Forfeiture procedures are governed by Rule 32.2.

U.S. Appellate Court

The 94 U.S. district courts serve 12 regions, or circuits. Each of the 12 circuits has one Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court only hears 100 to 150 appeals out of the 7,000 writs it receives every year.

U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit in New York City only reviews legal claims that were presented in the U.S. District Court trial. The appellate court will review only issues objected to during the lower court trial. Only errors that directly impact the verdict can be used to get a judgment reversed.

The Appeal Process

Our federal criminal defense lawyer can file an appellant’s brief listing the errors or facts that the judge did not consider and why you believe the omission is important. The federal government prosecutor will respond with specialized legal knowledge of case law, and your defense attorney with 50 years of experience will enter into oral argument against the government attorney to get your conviction in full or in part reversed or your sentence reduced. It may take weeks for the appellate court judges to render a verdict affirming or reversing a fact or a part of your conviction and remanding your case to the lower court.

Sentencing Appeal

Federal courts change terms of sentencing and supervised release often. Allow our federal criminal defense attorney with 50 years of experience in the entire corrections process to appeal your sentence. Our attorney is well-respected in the federal criminal justice system. Our attorney’s goal is to preserve your rights and to prevent your federal criminal charge from devastating you and your family. Your federal prison can alter your sentence or move you to another prison to provide educational or job skills training or rehabilitative treatment for you. Federal courts can change your sentence or the length of your parole depending on:

Federal sentencing guidelines
• Severity or type of your offense
• Previous criminal history
• Probability that you’ll reoffend
• Your threat to public safety

Spodek Law Group P.C.

Call or contact our federal criminal defense attorney to discuss the appeal of your federal criminal court conviction in our convenient Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, or Queens law office. Our law firm welcomes multi-defendant cases. Our federal criminal appeals attorney brings big city experience in the entire corrections process into your federal criminal court case for a cost-effective solution to your legal problem. Our law firm is available 24 hours each day 7 days each week to take your call. Our attorneys speak English, Russian, and Spanish. Our legal fees are reasonable.

If you have been convicted of a federal crime, then you have the opportunity to file an appeal. Your attorney can assist with filing this important documentation so that you have a fair trial and so that you have a second chance to clear your name if you believe that you are not guilty of the charges that have brought against you. If you plan to file an appeal, you usually need to file a notice so that the court is prepared. There is a time limit as to when you can submit a notice that you’re going to file an appeal. This limit is typically 14 days after you are delivered your sentence. You should try to work with your attorney and determine whether you are going to appeal your federal conviction before you are sentenced if you feel that the trial is not moving in your favor. In the event that you don’t have an attorney, you should hire someone to represent you before making the decision to appeal so that the proper paperwork can be completed and so that any further evidence can be reviewed before it’s submitted to the court.

Sometimes, you might be sentenced to a less amount of time than you could have possibly served. If you decide to file an appeal, you should keep in mind that the prosecution can file an appeal as well to try to have your sentence increased so that you spend more time in prison or on probation depending on the exact details. Consult with your attorney about the chance that you’re taking when you choose to file an appeal because you don’t want to risk losing and receiving a sentence that is worse than what you were originally given.

Make sure you file your notice within 14 days of receiving your sentence. If you miss this 14-day mark, then you can usually no longer file an appeal and have to abide by the sentence that you’ve been given. Once you’ve given the notice to file an appeal is in place, you will need to complete more paperwork that gives the court statements about the details of your case. One of the things that the court reporter will do is enter these records so that they will be on file and ready for the appeal process. When all of the documents are filed to notify that court that you intend to appeal, you will be given the notification that your trial is set on the schedule. You will usually have about 45 days to prepare your appeal. This is the time when you need to work closely with your attorney so that you can develop the best case possible. You will likely need to present a better case in your defense than you did during the initial trial. Your attorney will speak with you about your trial and the things that happened as well as what could happen during the appeal process.

The brief that is filed about your situation will include details as to why you and your attorney feel that you received the wrong sentence and that you were treated unfairly in court. Once your attorney files these details, then the prosecution will issue a statement in return. The prosecution will offer details as to why your sentence was fair or what could be done about your sentence if your attorney is able to prove that you were treated unfairly. You will be given the chance to file comments regarding those that are made by the prosecution. This is the time when you need to clearly submit the points that you initially made about your trial. You need to express yourself in a professional manner and ensure that you are delivering your true feelings. Your case will then go before three judges who will examine all of the evidence submitted about your case and make a final decision about your sentence.

Understanding Federal Criminal Appeals

Everyone knows what a trial is and how it works. Even a person who has never been in trouble can learn the basics of trials from the many courtroom dramas on television and movies. Any novice can name the major players such as judge, jury, defense attorney, and prosecutor. There are objections to raise and witnesses to question. Not everyone is as familiar with the appeals process, however. What is an appeal? Does everyone get one? The federal criminal appeals process is complicated and confusing. It isn’t depicted in the media or news nearly as often as trials but even a layperson can understand the basics.

What is a Federal Criminal Appeal?
An appeal is a legal process that reviews a trial, verdict, and sentencing for mistakes. A federal criminal appeal is an appeal of a federal criminal trial verdict. The criminal conviction and sentence are reviewed by a higher court to ensure every letter of the law is represented correctly. There are two high courts which review federal cases; the United States Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. Contrary to popular belief, there is no constitutional right to an appeal, and they may be denied for any number of reasons.

When is an Appeal Necessary?
Anyone who has lost a federal criminal case can feel it is necessary to appeal the courts decision. If they had an attorney to represent them, they may be advised of some infraction of their rights, or a legal misstep which upset the verdict. In which case, the attorney would file an appeal as soon as the final verdict is issued. If no attorney will take the case on appeal, the defendant may represent themselves.

The Difference Between the United States Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court
A lower court, which is any court in which an original decision was made, sends their appeals to the United States Courts of Appeals. It reviews judgments from lower courts, also called district courts, in their corresponding circuits. The highest tier of courts is the Supreme Court. If a case has exhausted all other court appeals, the Supreme Court is the last stop.

What it Isn’t: A Retrial
A lot of people think an appeal is the same as a retrial. Not so. In a retrial a new jury hears the evidence and decides a verdict just like in the original case. An appeal is a sort of trial of the trial. It is a concentrated review of the trial proceedings in search of proof of a legal error or misuse of law. There is no chance to reopen evidence or reintroduce the facts of the trial. An appeal has nothing to do with the facts of the case.

The Federal Criminal Appeals Process is Slow
The federal courts are crowded and the process of going over every legal claim in a case is intricate work. A federal criminal appellate procedure can take several months, most take years. Technology has improved the speed of appellate courts in recent years by accepting electronic briefs and endless access to legal research, but it is still a difficult, time-consuming task. A judge must read, research, and deliberate on each argument in the hundreds of federal criminal appeals they receive each year.

On-The-Briefs Resolution
By far, most federal criminal appeals are resolved without ever going into a courtroom. The judge decides based on what is contained in the legal briefs. The legal briefs are known as principle briefs or opening briefs and they set forth the facts of the case without bias. A succinct argument on the exact legal errors made in district court. Briefs are very detailed with exact citations and accompanying transcripts and evidentiary reports.

Federal criminal appeals are complex procedures which are hard to understand for anyone without a legal background. Reversals are rare, even for those cases with clear issues. There are also federal criminal cases won each year. Knowing how the process works is the first step in a successful appeal.

Federal Criminal Appeals After A Plea And Sentence

If you are like the overwhelming majority of federal defendants, you had little choice other than submitting a negotiated plea. This is, in part, because the federal sentencing schemes are both ridiculous and coercive. In Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that the penalty for a case could be so severe to the point of being coercive.

Although this was once recognized, the courts no longer hold firm on the rulings and have allowed a tough-on-crime approach to dominate without checks and balances. The theory is that the government can produce commercials and examples like the ancient Romans of their ghastly public crucifixions to intimidate lawbreakers.

This is far from practical and amounts to tyranny. The truth is that most crime is arbitrary and is the result of socio-economic oppression or disenfranchisement. If there are no legal methods for someone to obtain what they want out of life that others have, they will be all but certain to choose unorthodox methods. And the truth is that everyone has a breaking point or weakness.

When you consider this wisdom, it seems unfair that anyone should be incarcerated when this does not solve the problem or rehabilitate them. It is doubtful that criminals consider the consequences when they commit crimes. Most occur due to mental illness, thoughtless drug-induced psychosis, physical disability, or because it is too tempting to commit fraud or sell drugs with the lure of fast and easy money.

In order to relieve yourself of these harsh penalties and reduce the sentence, you have to take your appeal opportunities seriously. The best attorneys are dedicated to the cause of countering the aggression of prosecutors. They stick up for the disenfranchised among us and work for the greater good of humanity. This is why our law firm is your best choice.

Overview of the Federal Appeals Process

In order to secure your appellate rights, your trial court attorney must preserve issues in the U.S. District Court that have an effect on the legitimacy of the prosecution. If there were 4th Amendment search and seizure violations or other unlawful tactics, your attorney must create a clear record to pursue the issues on appeal. Although a plea waives most errors, an attorney can stipulate in the plea bargaining process that they reserve the right to pursue certain pre-plea errors.

If this is the case, you may have grounds for a direct appeal to the U.S. Court of appeals for your district. This appeal is taken by filing a notice of appeal and any filing fee in the U.S. District Court. The notice of appeal is a very terse one-page document that simply notifies the prosecutor and the court that you are challenging the rulings in the appellate court.

The notice of appeal may be due in as few as 10 days after a final judgment is entered in the case. For this reason, you should never delay planning for an appeal and hiring appellate counsel. In a pinch, you could ask your trial counsel to assist you in filing the notice. He is obligated under ethical laws and his fiduciary duty to do so. Failure to timely file a notice of appeal can result in a permanent bar against any further review of the issues preserved on direct appeal.

The briefing may be scheduled after the notice is filed and the record is transferred up to the appellate court. The appellant (defendant) will be asked to file their opening brief within 45 days. The appellee (prosecutor) will be instructed to file their response within 30 days of being served with your appellant brief. You will then have an opportunity to file an additional short reply brief to address new issues raised by the appellee.

appeals can take as little as 3 months or years, depending on what circuit it is filed in and the complexity of the case. Your appellate counsel may request oral arguments sessions to add some clarification to the claims. Ultimately, the written briefs that try to correct legal errors by citing laws and facts are the core of an appeal.

If you win, the case will be reversed or remanded for further proceedings. Other issues will be reserved for another post-conviction process called habeas corpus, where new evidence and the competency of trial counsel is challenged.

Federal Criminal Appeals Post-Trial

The post-trial phase of a federal criminal case is one of the most important aspects. In many cases, it was difficult to make lengthy objections at the trial and cite the proper standard of law. In addition, a trial may present opportunities to redevelop pre-trial issues that were already denied relief. If the judge did not think that showing certain photos was inflammatory before trial, he may change his mind when he reflects on how the jurors grimaced when they saw graphic injuries or sexually explicit conduct.

The failure to exclude hearsay witnesses may also become more apparent at trial when the prosecutor makes their case almost exclusively around unreliable evidence that confuses jurors. Although police are able to give hearsay testimony for course of conduct, they are not allowed to simply say that the defendant said this or that after their arrest.

There are so many esoteric factors to consider that require the expertise of a top-notch lawyer. Only the most dedicated federal criminal attorneys know how to pick apart a crudely hacked together prosecution. The fact is that most of the prosecutions are rather crude because the federal prosecutors handle a large volume of cases and use a lot of skullduggeries to make them stick in the absence of legitimate police work.

A skilled appellate attorney can move for reconsideration under several federal rules that allow the judge to reopen a previous order on the basis of new evidence or a ruling that was clearly erroneous. Although judicial staff like to rush through work and can be reluctant to agree with less respected attorneys, an attorney who has developed quite a reputation will put a little fear of repercussions in them and force them to cite the correct laws and facts in their opinions.

Error Preservation

It is paramount for trial attorneys to preserve the errors for appeal. Post-trial motions are their final opportunity to present a claim with such force that the appellate courts will be forced to grant relief. Most errors are rooted in a constitutional right.

Although constitutional rights were once robust, they have been whittled down considerably by the so-called “pragmatic constructions” of the U.S. Supreme Court. The complexities in identifying constitutional claims and demonstrating serious errors in the proceedings requires a lot of talent, not just textbook skills. This only comes with decades of researching, living, and eating law.

If the trial attorney does not preserve errors properly, they will not be reviewable on appeal or will not be persuasive. Any issues raised that are not backed by an authority will be waived and unreviewable. An attorney can’t just use parlor talk and opinions for why the law should be a certain way. He needs to root his arguments in precedent and wisdom that has evolved in the case-law jurisprudence to be compelling.

Yet, there may be key recent decisions in the appellate courts that further define or broaden the rights of defendants. Only a skilled attorney keeps abreast of the latest cases and has the know-how to digest and apply them to the correct situations for relief. Because researching law is a lifetime experience that is both time-consuming and tedious, only attorneys with very high memory reading retention are capable of putting together award-winning work-products.


Post-trial procedures also must prepare for sentencing. In the federal courts, there are a lot of federal mandatory sentencing guidelines. This means that the judge will be forced to hand out a sentence even if he feels that it is unjust. There was a great deal of debate and injustice over the years of minimum mandatory sentencing schemes that increased the penalty for crack cocaine by 100 times that for powder cocaine by weight. This type of sentencing scheme was felt by many to be a subterfuge for racist laws that target inner-city black areas where crack cocaine is more popular.

Only a skilled attorney can raise constitutional issues related to the injustice of mandatory minimum sentences and produce sufficient mitigating evidence in any regards. A skilled federal criminal defense attorney can make a logical case to reduce the punishments for anyone. Because judges have broad discretion when it comes to the potential maximum sentences, a skilled defense attorney can mean the difference between a short stint and a lifetime in prison.

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