Understanding the criminal appeals process can be challenging, especially when it involves you or a loved one. In Hawaii, as in other states, an appeal is not a new trial but a request to a higher court to review the decisions made in a lower court. The aim is to ensure fairness and justice prevailed in the original proceedings.
Although the process can be complex and stressful, gaining a fundamental understanding of how it works can offer some relief.
What is the basis for an appeal?
An appeal does not argue about the facts of the case but disputes the legal aspects of the trial. Grounds for an appeal can include a mistake in applying the law, misinterpretation of laws or an argument that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict.
Who reviews the appeal?
In Hawaii, the Intermediate Court of Appeals or the Hawaii Supreme Court reviews appeals. They examine the trial court record, the written arguments of both parties and sometimes hear oral arguments before making their decision.
How long does the process take?
Factors that influence the timeline include the complexity of the case and the workload of the appellate court. It may take months or even years for a final decision.
What are the possible outcomes of an appeal?
The appellate court can affirm the lower court’s decision, meaning they agree with the original ruling. They can also reverse the decision, often leading to a new trial or an adjustment of the sentence. Sometimes, they may remand the case, which sends it back to the trial court for further proceedings.
If the appeal does not succeed at the Intermediate Court of Appeals, you have the option to ask the Hawaii Supreme Court to hear your case. However, they have the discretion to choose which cases they hear.