State vs. Federal Criminal Appeals in Georgia: What You Need to Know

What do you need to know more about State vs. Federal criminal appeals in Georgia? Get a complete guide from Conklin Law today. Call us for more information.

What Is the Difference Between State and Federal Criminal Appeals?

Where and how you file your criminal appeal depends on the nature of the offense you were prosecuted for. Most state crimes are appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals, except capital crimes. If you are convicted of murder, for example, you must appeal directly to the Supreme Court of Georgia.

However, if you are convicted in any of Georgia’s three federal district courts, you must appeal your conviction to the 11th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

As state and federal appeals are governed by different laws and jurisdictions, the process for each is different. Our experienced appeals attorney at Conklin Law will be happy to assist you in filing your appeal with the appropriate court.

How Do State Criminal Appeals Work in Georgia? 

When a defendant who is sentenced in a Georgia district court wishes to challenge their conviction, they must file an appeal with the Georgia Court of Appeals following the provisions of O.C.G.A. Title 5, Ch. 6.

You may consider appealing your state conviction if there were errors in your trial or at any stage of the criminal process. However, to be successful, you usually must be able to prove that these errors affected the outcome of your case and violated your right to a fair trial.

If you are looking to file an appeal with Georgia’s intermediate appellate court, here’s a brief guide on the process:

    1. File a notice of appeal with the trial court. Once the Georgia Court of Appeals receives your trial record, you must submit your brief within 20 days.
    2. Draft and file the brief with the Court of Appeals. In the brief, your attorney must, among other things, describe the grounds for your appeal, such as errors of law or ineffective assistance of counsel.
    3. The prosecution may respond by filing an opposing brief, and you will be given a chance to respond as well.
    4. The judges may sometimes summon both parties to attend oral arguments. An oral argument is the judges’ opportunity to ask questions about the case. However, most appeals are decided based on the written briefs only.
    5. The appellate judges issue their ruling.

    Remember that you only have 30 days after the final judgment in your case to appeal. An experienced criminal appeals lawyer can help you file on time!


    Grounds for State Criminal Appeals

    The errors that occur during or before your trial and warrant an appellate review are referred to as grounds for appeal. According to O.C.G.A. § 5-5-20 through § 5-5-25 and case law, grounds for a new trial in Georgia may include:

    • Improper application of the law
    • Illegal admission or exclusion of evidence
    • Insufficient evidence
    • Ineffective assistance of counsel
    • Improper jury instructions
    • Prosecutorial misconduct
    • New evidence
    • Discrimination in jury selection


    What Happens if My State Appeal Is Denied?

    If the Georgia Court of Appeals denies your appeal, you can file a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court of Georgia. However, the Supreme Court is under no obligation to hear your appeal. According to the Supreme Court Rule 40, a writ of certiorari is only granted in cases of great significance. Working with an attorney with experience pleading in front of the Supreme Court of Georgia can make a difference in the outcome of your appeal.

      How Do Georgia Federal Criminal Appeals Work?

      Federal appellate courts review and correct errors made by federal district courts. If you believe you deserve a more favorable outcome, you must act fast, as you only have 14 days to file a federal criminal appeal.

      Here’s how you can do that:

      • Prepare your notice of appeal, file it with the district court where you were sentenced, and pay a filing fee.
      • File a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals clerk on the date scheduled by the court. The brief must, among other things, introduce the findings of the district court and the ground for appeal.
      • The prosecution (the federal government) responds by filing an opposing brief within 30 days.
      • The court may order an oral argument if needed, but in most cases, the judges decide based on the written briefs only.

      Besides the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, Georgia federal appeals are governed by the 11th Circuit Court Rules. You may want to seek the help of a qualified attorney from the beginning of the process to ensure your rights are protected.


      Grounds for Federal Appeals in Georgia

      To qualify for a federal appeal, a criminal defendant must prove that an error occurred in the federal district court and that it is a valid ground for appeal.

      Common grounds for federal appeals include:

      • Violations of the U.S. Constitution, including the due process and equal protection clauses
      • Excessive sentencing
      • Improper admission or exclusion of evidence
      • Insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict
      • Prosecution misconduct
      • Unlawful arrest and seizure


      What Happens if My Federal Criminal Appeal Is Denied?

      If the circuit court denies your appeal, you may be able to appeal its decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. To do so, you must petition the Supreme Court to grant you a writ of certiorari. However, You should know that the court only accepts about 1.5-2% of the yearly appeal cases it receives. This means that your case must have such strong grounds for appeal that its outcome can resolve conflicts, set a precedent, or have national significance.

      Conklin Law Can Help You

      Receiving a criminal conviction is not the end. Whether you were sentenced in a state or federal court, you can challenge the judgment and seek a better outcome. Appeal attorneys at Conklin Law have a proven track record of success in appealing criminal cases in the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Georgia. We may be able to help you!

      Our attorneys can analyze your case, identify possible grounds for appeal, and represent you throughout the appeal process. Contact us today for experienced, tenacious, and pragmatic legal representation.

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