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.