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New Jersey What Happens In A Federal Criminal Appeal Lawyers

An Appeal Process Overview

An appeal is a legal process of reviewing a criminal’s conviction or sentence by a high court. One can’t retry any evidence, unveil new documents, or bring new witnesses during an appeal. An appeal doesn’t dictate if you are innocent or guilty. The main aim of an appeal is to determine whether any legal errors occurred during the trial that might have led to an unfair conviction.

What Happens During A Federal Criminal Appeal

The defendant has to wait for the court’s final judgment before they can begin the appeal process because the federal courts do not listen to an appeal filed before the final verdict.

The defendant begins the appeal process by filing an appeal notice. This step is essential. The defendant has to file this notice within 14 days of the final judgment. After filing the appeal notice, the appellant then takes on obtaining all the necessary items for the proceedings.

These items include; the relevant motions, relevant transcripts for the proceedings, and the trial exhibits. The appellant’s counsel and the prosecutors coordinate on what the record should include.

Attorneys of both parties then submit their briefs. In appeal cases, briefs are of utmost importance. Both attorneys argue for the reversal or affirmation of the judgment in these briefs. Since judges will reject any arguments not included in the briefs, therefore, the attorneys must make their briefs complete and clear.

Small panels of up to three judges each are then assigned the case. These judges read all the briefs presented, review the records, and then make their verdict on the case. Occasionally the panel might set an oral argument. However, it is not a guarantee for success.

The court will then issue a written verdict at the end of the appeal process. A detailed opinion recounting all the arguments presented by both parties and facts about the case will accompany the written judgment. However, the panel might also decide to issue a short opinion that reverses or affirms the case without a detailed explanation.

Duration of a Federal Criminal Appeal

An appeal in the federal court system is a long process that can take an extended period. The duration of an appeal also varies depending on the circuit. For example, resolving a case within the Fourth Circuit may take around a year. The resolution of complicated appeals involving a large volume of records may take longer before being resolved.

Possible Outcomes of a Federal Criminal Appeal

The panel overseeing the appeal can either reverse or affirm the judgment of the trial court. If the panel of judges affirms the verdict of the trial court, the case is sent back to the trial court for enforcement of the judgment. Affirmation often means that the panel couldn’t find a legal error serious enough to alter the outcome.

In case of a reversal, the panel will issue additional instructions. For example, they may propose that the trial court hold another trial, dismiss all the charges, or offer the defendant a fine, or give a different sentence to the defendant. These instructions are dependent on the arguments on the briefs.

Reversals in federal appeals are very rare. Therefore, a lawyer should never make a promise on reversal even if they are confident about the issues raised.

Arguments presented during appeal

Selecting the arguments and issues to raise during an appeal is a delicate and tedious process. Therefore, the appellant’s attorney should take into account the following considerations while drafting the arguments.

  • Standard of review: It refers to how the judges overseeing the appeal will consider the decision of the trial court. It can either be a de novo, a clear error, or an abuse of discretion.
  • Harmless error: the appellant’s attorney must demonstrate how the trial court’s error affected the outcome and how this outcome was detrimental to the appellant.
  • Error preservation: refers to whether the appellant’s attorney properly objected the error during the trial, therefore, preserving the issues for an appeal.

What happens if the panel affirms the verdict?

If the panel overseeing the appeal affirms the trial court’s verdict, the attorney can request the court to rehear the appellant’s case. The three judges can decide to rehear the case “panel hearing” or that the case reheard by all the judges in the high court “rehearing en banc.” Filling of the rehearing petition occurs within 14 days of the affirmation.

If the attorney does not request a rehearing of if the request gets denied, the other option involves filing a cert petition. A cert petition is a request to the Supreme Court to take up the case. The Supreme Court can either grant or deny the request.

Getting good legal assistance

Having an experienced attorney can make all the difference between a reversal or affirmation of an appeal. The attorney’s ability to make convincing arguments can increase the chances of a reversal. That is why we at the Spodek Law Group offer you the best legal assistance in your federal appeal cases.

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