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How Long Does A Federal Criminal Appeal Take?

By Spodek Law Group | February 2, 2019
(Last Updated On: May 27, 2023)
What To Do First If You’re Involved in a Federal Investigation
Getting home after working the whole day to find an FBI’s agent card at your door and it has a note with “please call.”
You hear a knock at the door requesting you for a few minutes to talk to a U.S. Portal Inspector.
One of your business associates tells you that somebody from the IRS Criminal Investigations Division has been asking information about you.
The above are some instances in which people can know that they are being investigated against them. There are many other ways too. But if you discover that there is an investigation that is against you, what should you do?
You need to hire an attorney who is experienced when it comes to the issues relating to federal investigations. The process of hiring an attorney can take time. You need answers right away. Here is a guide on what may happen if you decided to have an attorney on board and what you need to know before that.
If you have not spoken to those investigating against you, think first and quick before they come to you. You need to know and decide if you will want to talk to them. If you think of what is sensible to you, you will be able to withstand their pressure when the agents show up at your doorstep.
If you have already spoken to the agents, you need to remember what you told them as this is crucial information to give your lawyer. You should take your time by sitting and writing all you said to the agents. On the piece of paper write at the top, “Attorney Clients Privileged” before you start writing anything else. Explain that you are taking the notes because you want to get professional legal help from an experienced attorney. Ensure what you write is detailed by writing everything without leaving any. Whenever you remember something, add it to the memo.
When you meet with your attorney, the first thing to do is calling the agents investigating you. Ideally, the agent will not provide a lot of information to your lawyer, but the agent will give the information from the attorney’s call to the federal prosecutor who is on your case. There is a rule though unwritten that if a prosecutor is handling a case, he/she should talk to the defense attorney but not the agent.
If there is a prosecutor involved, he/she can inform your lawyer your investigation status in the case. However, it is essential to keep in mind that there can be a change in your status in the process. For example, it is possible to start as a witness, but the government can upgrade to a subject if they learn many things about you. It is a kind of upgrade which you would not want.
It depends on your status for the lawyer to decide on the course of action to take. Also, you and your attorney should keep on talking about the details of what happened. It will help him/her to investigate your case successfully. But getting real traction of what the government is looking for may not be possible.
But the most important thing to do is to hire an attorney quickly. Hiring a lawyer will enable you to get better results than if you do not. An experienced attorney will help you maybe even not to be prosecuted. The lawyer can also help you in making a tactical retreat leading to damage mitigation. The case depends on the surrounding facts.
You may be worried about why you are being investigated and how it will end and the impact it will have on your life. But even when you are in this situation, you should avoid talking about it to your friends and relatives. Talking about it can cause more problems in the future and exacerbate the case. The people you speak with about the investigation may be questioned at a different date by prosecutors or federal agents. Those you are talking to may be asked to testify against you. If those close to you do not all know all the facts surrounding your case, they can misinterpret things or lie. They do not know the facts to keep all the information to you.
If you are being subpoenaed or you are being investigated for a federal crime, it is not something to handle on your own. Finding an experienced defense should be among the things to do first. An experienced attorney will ensure your rights are protected and he/she will guide you to take the right steps when navigating through the investigation. One of the best ways to have someone you can share with when being investigated is to have a professional attorney. A lawyer will know how to act, and the right decisions toke depending on the current situation. Get more resources by visiting this site.
Many people who’ve been convicted of federal crimes have questions about the appeals process. When you appeal a verdict, you are asking a higher court to reconsider the results of your case. The hope is that they’ll overturn your conviction, lessen your sentence, or even allow a new trial. However, the appeals process might take longer than you’d like.
How Long Do Appeals Take?
The length of an appeal is highly dependent on the details of your case. Appeals can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. There aren’t any time limits on how long the appeals process can last.
Why Do Appeals Take So Long?
The length of the appeals process depends on several factors:
  • How quickly your notice of appeal is filed
  • How quickly your appeal is filed
  • The opposing side’s response
  • Time for the judge to read and consider your appeal and the opposition’s response
  • How many people have filed appeals before you
  • Deliberation
  • Your case’s complexity
  • Your case’s merit

Filing a Notice of Your Appeal
Before you or your attorney can file an appeal, you must file a document called a notice of appeal. It will inform the court and the opposition that you plan to appeal.
Your attorney should do this as soon as possible after sentencing. In most federal criminal cases, your attorney must file a notice of appeal within 14 days of the entry of the judgment against you.
Filing Your Appeal
After you file a notice of appeal, filing the appeal itself is your next step. At that point, court clerks will review and consider all the information in your filing. Your attorney will describe any potential errors that may have happened in relation to your trial. Those errors could include problems of the following nature:

  • Prosecutorial misconduct
  • Improper exclusion of evidence
  • Inaccurate jury instructions
  • Errors in sentencing
  • Lack of adequate evidence
  • Juror misconduct
  • Ineffective counsel

The Opposing Side’s Response
The opposition, otherwise known as the appellee or respondent, will then review your appeal and formulate a written response. Because the respondent will want to prevent your conviction from being overturned, they might take more time than you’d like while crafting their response.
Earlier Appeals Come First
This stage is not really under anyone’s control. Even the opposition has nothing to do with this aspect of your wait time. The fact is that you’re not the only person filing an appeal, and the court addresses appeals in order of filing. If someone else filed an appeal before you, it’s only fair that their case will make it to the docket before yours, although it’s natural if you find it frustrating.
A Judge Reads Briefs and Hears Oral Arguments
At this step, a judge must review both your appeal and the opposition’s response. Sometimes, a judge also wants to hear oral arguments. The judge will perform this review as scheduled on the court calendar.
The Judge’s Decision
After the judge reads all briefs and hears any relevant oral arguments, they will arrive at a decision. This stage can take a while, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You want a judge who will consider every detail with care, not a judge who makes hasty decisions.
If your case is particularly complex, that can add a good deal of time to the judge’s decision-making process.
Does the Length of Time Matter?
Regardless of how long your appeal takes, the timespan will not affect your results. Neither a shorter appeals process nor a longer one indicates anything about whether your appeal will be successful.
Can You Speed up Your Appeal?
Unfortunately, your options for speeding up your appeal are minimal. Almost every relevant factor is beyond your control: You can’t make the opposition, the judge, or anyone else do anything at your preferred pace.
Your attorney should file your notice of appeal, followed by your actual appeal, as soon as reasonably possible — but even that is not something you can influence. After all, your attorney must dedicate time to making sure your appeal is thorough and well-formulated.
Appealing a conviction for a federal crime is often a slow process. The timeline could be as fast as a few months, but it could also span years. The speed at which your appeals process occurs doesn’t tell you anything about the ultimate result. Though a slow process would surely be frustrating for you, the legal system will work at its own pace.
If you need help navigating the appeals process, you might benefit from contacting an attorney. A lawyer with experience in federal criminal appeals can help you understand what’s happening at every stage.

How Long Does A Federal Criminal Appeal Take? 
If you get convicted or receive an unsatisfactory outcome on your criminal trial, you do not have to settle for that result. Every individual has a right to appeal a verdict in a criminal case. With the proper information, an experienced lawyer’s help, and the proper grounds, you may end up with a more favorable result. However, it’s important to note that the process appealing is complex and not for the faint-hearted.

What is a federal criminal appeal?

A federal appeal is a legal process through which a court of appeal reviews the trial court proceedings to ensure that the district court carried out the proceedings according to the law. A federal criminal defendant sentenced to a crime after a trial or a guilty plea may appeal to challenge the sentence. A higher court carries out an appeal, and it relies entirely on the written records of the proceedings in the trial court. It does not take in new evidence or hold a new trial.
If you wish to bring a federal appeal for a criminal conviction, you are probably curious about how long the federal criminal will take. Read on further to get a full sense of what the appeal entails and how long the process will take.

How long does the federal criminal appeal process take?

Unfortunately, there is no exact time frame that applies to all cases. Some appeals may take just a couple of days (especially in a case where the request is for someone sentenced to the death penalty), while in other cases, it can drag on for months. The time taken depends on a vast number of factors concerning the case. One important factor is the court handling your appeal and the intensity of the backlog within the court. Additionally, suppose the circumstances surrounding your case are complex. In that case, you may have to wait a little longer to prepare effective briefs and for the appellate judges to review and consider your appeal.

The federal criminal appeal Process

Your appeal process goes through various steps, which means that it takes a long time. Every step requires time because you have to wait behind previously filed cases. Below is the process in a nutshell.

1. Notice of appeal

Your lawyer should file this notice as soon as possible to get started on the process. Generally, the filing of the notice of appeal should be within ten days of sentencing.

2. Filing the appeal

After giving the court the notification that you intend to appeal, you should go ahead and file the actual appeal within 30 days. Failure to meet the deadline may cause you to forfeit your right to appeal. During this stage, your legal team must look at every angle of your case and develop a researched and well-reasoned argument. This is the most crucial stage because it requires that every turning of each stone in your case, and the time available is minimal. In short, your lawyers’ will review the record of your hearing alongside all the evidence considered and write the best brief about your case.
A brief refers to a legal argument submitted to the court where you request the court to offer your relief from your conviction and give the reasons why the federal court should grant your relief.

3. Response from the opposing side

As the court clerks review your request, the prosecution gets 30 days to issue a written response towards the appeal.

4. Review of written briefs and oral arguments

After reviewing your appeal and the prosecution response, the case goes on the calendar for review of the written briefs and, on some occasions, listen to oral arguments. Depending on the volume of cases on the docket, this process can take 3-4 months before your appeal finds its way to the appeal court.

5. Discussion and decision

After the judges have read your written briefs or, in some cases, heard your oral arguments, they will take their time deliberating and considering the evidence before they give their decision. There are no set requirements or time frame for the judges to decide. They can take up as much time as they need, even up to a year or significantly more or less. After considering arguments from both sides, the court may affirm or reverse the district court’s judgment. In the reversal of convictions, the appeal judges can vacate the sentence, or the federal court may call for a retrial.


So, how long does a federal criminal appeal take in New Jersey? In a typical scenario, you can expect the process to take up to one year. As we mentioned above, cases are never the same, and the circumstances for every case are unique. So your appeal may take a longer or shorter time than expected. Since the Federal Criminal appeal process can be rigorous and with significant variations from the original court, you may want to engage a seasoned lawyer’s skills. A criminal defense attorney with an incredible track record will help you make all the steps necessary to an appeal successfully for an increased chance of getting your case overturned.

What to Do Immediately When Facing a Federal Investigation

Imagine coming home from a long day at work only to find an FBI agent’s card with a note saying “please call.” Or having a U.S. Postal Inspector knock on your door asking for a few minutes of your time. Perhaps one of your business associates informs you that the IRS Criminal Investigations Division has been snooping around for information about you. In any of these scenarios, it’s evident that a federal investigation is unfolding with you in the crosshairs.

Acting quickly and decisively is critical in such situations. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the vital initial steps to protect yourself, including hiring an experienced attorney and understanding your rights and potential moves during the investigative process.

Prioritize Hiring a Skilled Attorney

When facing a federal investigation, your first course of action should be to hire an attorney experienced in handling federal cases. The process may take time, but obtaining legal advice and representation can significantly improve your odds of a favorable outcome. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the complex terrain of federal investigations, potentially preventing prosecution or mitigating damage depending on the surrounding facts of your case.

Responding to Federal Agents

Whether you have already spoken to the agents or not, the information you provide can ultimately prove crucial to your case. Remember to document everything you’ve said to them, labeling the notes as “Attorney-Client Privileged” and detailing every aspect of the conversation. Sharing these notes with your attorney will help them build a solid defense and counter-strategy.

Understanding Your Status and Rights

Your lawyer’s initial move will likely involve contacting the agents investigating you to gather more information. It’s important to understand that your status in the investigation can change at any time. For instance, you may start as a witness and end up being upgraded to a subject if the government uncovers more evidence against you. Being aware of these changes will aid your attorney in determining the best course of action.

Maintaining Confidentiality

One of the most essential elements in facing a federal investigation is discretion. Avoid discussing the details with friends, family, or colleagues as it can exacerbate the situation and lead to potential witnesses testifying against you. Instead, rely on your attorney as a trusted confidante who can make well-informed decisions on your behalf.

The Federal Criminal Appeals Process: How Long Does It Take?

Having been convicted of a federal crime, you might be considering pursuing an appeal. The appeals process seeks to have a higher court reconsider your case to potentially overturn the conviction, reduce the sentence, or allow a new trial. However, be prepared for the reality that the process could take longer than you might hope.

Factors Affecting the Length of the Appeals Process

The timeline for an appeal varies greatly depending on a multitude of factors, such as the speed at which your notice and appeal are filed, the complexity of your case, the number of prior appeals, and the time taken by the judge to consider your case.

Filing a Notice of Appeal and the Actual Appeal

To initiate the process, your attorney will file a notice of appeal, followed by the actual appeal itself. The sooner these steps are executed, the faster your case can progress. Your attorney will need to develop a comprehensive argument identifying any potential errors or shortcomings during your trial, so thoroughness and attention to detail are crucial.

The Opposition’s Response

Once the appeal has been lodged, the opposing side, or appellee/respondent, will have an opportunity to respond. Be prepared for the possibility that they may take their time drafting their argument, potentially prolonging the process.

Judicial Review and Decision

Finally, a judge will review both sides’ arguments and reach a decision. Complex cases may require more time for careful deliberation, so patience is essential during this stage. The duration of the appeals process does not necessarily indicate the likelihood of a successful appeal.

In Conclusion: Trust the Expertise of an Experienced Attorney

Facing a federal investigation or pursuing an appeal is not something to handle single-handedly. Enlisting the help of a seasoned attorney will ensure that your rights are protected, and you are guided seamlessly through the process. Trust in their expertise to make the right decisions on your behalf, and remember that timely action is crucial when dealing with federal cases.

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