The criminal appeals process is vital for anyone facing criminal charges to understand. It is a complex process of critical importance to anyone impacted by the criminal justice process making understanding the basics of appeals valuable.
The basics of the appeals process
An individual who has been convicted of a crime may be able to request that their case be reviewed which is referred to as an appeal. There are timelines for requesting and preserving an appeal the potential appellants should be familiar with and ensure they follow. In some serious cases, there may be an automatic appeal. There are different categories, or types, of appeals depending on the situation and circumstances.
An appeal request is generally a request that the appellant’s case is reviewed for errors of law. The higher court hearing the appeal will not determine questions of fact determined by the lower court which is oftentimes referred to as the finder of fact. At this stage of the appeal, the appellate court only reviews the lower court record and does not review new evidence.
In addition to the lower court record of the appellant’s trial, the appellate court will also review briefs submitted by both the appellant seeking the appeal and by the prosecution defending the conviction. The purpose of the appeals process is to establish that legal errors were made at trial that impacted the jury’s verdict or the sentence imposed on the appellant.
There may be different options for relief depending on what the appellate court decides and there may also be different levels of appeal. Because there is unquestionably a lot on the line when a criminal appeal is considered, and they can quickly grow complex, it is helpful for appellants to have trained guidance throughout the process to help them pursue the outcome they are seeking.