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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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Post Conviction Attorneys

Thanks to movies, TV, and newspaper articles, most people know what trials are. For instance, they know that witnesses are questioned, objections are raised, and arguments are made to the jury. However, the federal appeals process isn’t as clear. Because appeals are rarely publicized, the average person has limited knowledge of the process. Clients are sometimes surprised to hear that in an appeal, lawyers don’t get the chance to present additional evidence, and that federal appellate judges sometimes make decisions without hearing oral arguments. Here, clients and families will learn more about the job of a federal appeals attorney.

A Basic Guide to Federal Criminal appeals

appeals are the legal procedures through which criminal convictions and sentences are reviewed by higher courts. Although there’s no constitutional right to a criminal appeal, the federal government has, by law, established an appellate court system that reviews lower courts’ judgments.

The federal system has two appeals court tiers: the US Court of appeals and the Supreme Court. The former reviews district courts’ judgments, while the latter reviews judgments from federal appeals courts. As the Supreme Court only hears 80-100 cases each year, the federal court of appeals is the only way to correct trial or sentencing errors.

What Does a Lawyer Do During a Federal Appeal?

In the federal courts, defendants must wait for final judgment before they can start the appeals process. The federal court isn’t likely to hear appeals filed before a final judgment. appeals begin with the filing of a formal notice, which must be done within 14 days of final judgment.

After the notice is filed, the federal appeals court will enter orders that establish a brief filing schedule. The person appealing the case (or their attorney) must obtain transcripts and assemble the record on appeal. An appellant’s attorney will work with the prosecutor to determine what must be included in the appeals record. Arguments must be presented completely and clearly, because judges won’t consider an argument not included in the briefs.

How the Court Works

The appeals court usually works with a three-judge panel. The panel will read briefs, review the appellate record, and make a decision. Most federal criminal appeals are decided on briefs, which means no oral arguments are heard. Occasionally, though, cases are set for oral argument. This carries no guarantee of success, but in most cases, the federal court won’t reverse a conviction without an oral argument.

In the end, the appeals court will issue a written decision that’s accompanied by an opinion and an explanation of the outcome. The court’s opinion will recount both parties’ arguments, the case’s facts, and why the outcome occurred. Sometimes, the appellate court will issue a short opinion that merely reverses or affirms a case with no further discussion.

How Long Do Federal appeals Take?

A federal appeal may take quite a long time, but the length varies from one circuit to another. If the case is complex or it involves a large record, the appeal may take much longer than the average.

Possible Outcomes

At the widest level, the federal appeals court will reverse or affirm the lower court’s judgment. If the judgment is affirmed, it’s sent back to the trial court for enforcement. If it’s reversed, the appeals court will provide additional instructions on re-sentencing, retrial, or the dismissal of charges. Reversals are extremely rare, and because of this, reputable federal appeals attorneys will never guarantee them.

Hiring an Attorney

Though reversals are rare, an effective attorney will make a substantial difference in a case’s outcome. Choosing the right arguments and presenting them in a concise and clear manner is crucial for maximizing the chances of a reversal. If you’re considering hiring a federal appeals attorney, it’s important to do so as soon as possible.

How Can You Challenge A Federal Criminal Conviction?

When someone gets convicted of a crime, and they feel that justice was not served, the first thing that comes to mind is how to challenge the verdict. There are many things that can lead to a wrong ruling. Maybe, you feel that the judge was wrong, the prosecution did not do their work well, or your lawyer made a lot of mistakes during the case. The constitution allows you to appeal such rulings. However, one thing that has played out recently is a lack of knowledge by most people to know how to challenge a conviction. Here are the options at your disposal.

Choose a direct appeal

A direct appeal is when you notify the court that you intend to challenge their verdict. The constitution allows you to do it within 14 days after the initial and to observe several regulations. Therefore, when drafting the appeal case, your attorney will be working within timeframes because a simple mistake can lead to total dismissal of the appeal even before it starts. When you choose this type, your main task will be to convince the new jury that what the lower court did was not right.

Go for a 2255 appeal

Named after the US Code that created it, the 2255 appeal is different from a direct one because it is a habeas petition. In this case, you will telling the courts that your rights were violated, and that is the reason you are locked up. The rights talked about under this petition refer to the right to have a lawyer and so, you are simply telling the courts that the lawyers that represented you were wrong on your case. For example, if the attorney colluded with other parties to botch things, of they did not conduct sufficient research, you can bring the 2225 appeal to court.

Notice of appeal and the actual appeal

It is important to draw a difference between a notice of appeal and an appeal itself. The notice is a short document that notifies the courts that you will be challenging the ruling with a certain period of time. However, most people mistake in for a full appeal. There are cases that have never taken off because people gave notices, but never submitted the appeal. The actual document should be a detailed report of the things that went wrong during the hearing and what you think should have been done. It is this detailed appeal that the judges will be suing when hearings commence.

The evidence needed for an appeal

One of the problems that most people face during appeal cases emanate from evidence. You need to know that an appeal is not a retrial or new trial. Therefore, you will not be rehashing your evidence or providing new information to court. Anything that borders on those lines will be quashed by the court. What you should be doing is to convince the court that there were flaws in the proceedings at the lower court. Tell them about the mistakes the judges committed, what the prosecutor did not do right, or where your lawyers went wrong.

The duration of criminal appeals

When you choose to challenge a federal criminal conviction, you need to understand how long it is likely to take. Unfortunately, it is not always a good experience for most applicants. You thought that you will craft an appeal notice today and walk to freedom tomorrow; you are in for a rude shock. These cases are generally slow. Some of them take more than one year to be concluded. The reason behind this delay is that the courts are crowded. You will be surprised to know that there are thousands of cases before yours that are yet to take off. The sped will also depend on how your lawyer presents his case before the judges and how they work around the evidence.

As you can see, challenging a federal criminal conviction is not something that you can take lightly, but it is possible. As long as you can showcase that the lower court erred, you can start looking forward to your freedom. To b sure of this freedom, make sure that you find he most reliable lawyers. Choose attorneys with a proven track record in handling appeal cases similar to the one you are facing.

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