Understanding the Process of Appealing Federal Crimes


If you have been convicted by a criminal court, you have the right to file an appeal with the appellate court.

If you want your appeal to succeed, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the basics, including the process involved.

To help you get things right, this article is going to take you through all the processes involved when filing a federal criminal appeal with an appellate court.


Trial Court

It’s the responsibility of the prosecution desk to prove beyond doubt that you committed all the elements of crimes you are being accused of. As a defendant, you have an absolute right to a fair hearing.

Here, you have the right of confronting your accused. From here, the trial court will go through the evidence to ascertain its authenticity. The credibility of the evidence will be judged based on how facts are presented in court by both parties.

If you are convicted, you can file for an appeal with the appellate court through a federal appeals lawyer.

As the higher court, the appellate court will go through the evidence afresh, view the verdict made by the lower court, and make a determination.


Appeal Purpose

Not all court trials are fair. Even more, a trial judge can make mistakes. That’s why courts of appeals were established to correct some of these wrongs.

As a higher court, a court of appeal can quash a judgment and set the previous ruling aside.

Here, the court of appeal will go through the case in a bid to ascertain the authenticity of the verdict (i.e. of the lower court).


Reasons for Appeal

From lack of evidence, violation of the rights of the defendant, criminal procedure errors, to mistakes made by the lower court jury, there are numerous reasons why an appeal can be filed.

Depending on your situation, you have the right to be heard by an appellate court.


Filing an Appeal: The Actual Process

Filing an appeal isn’t that complex. It involves initiating the appeal by filing a notice with the appellate court clerk. Normally, you must file the notice within 10 days after the lower court judgment was passed.

Alternatively, you can appeal immediately after the sentencing. Thus, you should get the timing right. In most cases, the timelines are based on the laws of your state or county. But be sure to seek the best legal counsel.

Stick to the timelines. Missing them can deny you a chance to file the appeal. It’s also important to note that there are jurisdictions that allow late filing of appeals—usually within 30 days. However, the court must be satisfied that there was excusable neglect for late filing.

From here (i.e. filing the appeal), the court of appeal clerks will prepare your records. The decision by the lower court makes part of the records. Things to be included in the records consist of transcripts and court proceedings.


Important steps

The federal court process involves the following processes.

  • Case investigations
  • Formal charging in the court.
  • Case hearing
  • Discovery of evidence
  • Bargaining for a plea
  • Preliminary hearing
  • Motions relating to the pre trails, post trials, and the actual trails
  • The actual sentencing of the defendant
  • Appeal

The Bottom-Line

Being convicted in a federal criminal court isn’t the end of the road.

You can appeal the decision with an appellate court and get justice. However, you need to get things right. In particular, you should understand the process involved.

The above guide highlights the process involved when filing a criminal appeal with the appellate court.

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