Everything You Need To Know About The Right to Appeal

Were you aware that you have the right to appeal a conviction? Get support from skilled criminal defense attorneys from Conklin Law. Call us today!

What Does It Mean to Appeal?

Appeals are challenges to a previous court ruling, which are usually addressed in a higher court than the one that made the ruling in a dispute.

In most states and under federal law, decisions made in trial courts may be appealed to appellate courts. When the decision of the appeals court is disputed, the rulings may be reviewed in a court of last resort. In the federal system, this is the United States Supreme Court. In most states, the court of last resort is the state supreme court.

The appellant is the party seeking an appeal, whereas the appellee or respondent defends the lower court’s ruling. The decision of the appeals court can either uphold the lower court’s ruling, reverse it, modify it, or send it back to the trial court for further proceedings.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your trial, you have the right to appeal. Understanding this process is crucial in ensuring that you receive a fair trial and that your rights are protected.

The Right to Appeal

The right to appeal is the legal entitlement of an individual to ask the court to modify its judgment through an appeals court.

After a trial, the losing party may have the right to file an appeal if they have concerns about the trial court proceedings, how the judge applied the law, or what law was applied.

In some instances, plaintiffs may have the right to seek an appellate court review of the acts of the trial court on these grounds.

There are two types of appeals: discretionary and right. The higher court must hear an appeal of right if the losing party demands it. Under the discretionary appeal process, the party must apply to the higher court. The appeals court may accept or decline to hear the case.

In many instances, in the federal court system, there is an appeal of right from a district court to a court of appeals. However, almost all cases to the United States Supreme Court are discretionary.

Difference Between Appellate Courts and Trial Courts

During a trial, witnesses testify, and the judge or jury determines who is guilty or not guilty, or accountable or not liable.

On the other hand, appellate courts will not hear new evidence or hold another trial for your case. They do not hear witnesses’ testimony, and no jury is present. Appellate courts typically evaluate the trial court’s processes and conclusions to ensure that the proceedings were fair and that the judge accurately applied the law.

When Can a Case Be Appealed?

It is a common assumption that all cases can be appealed. However, the defeated party does not always automatically get the right to appeal. In a case without an automatic right to appeal, there must be a legal basis for the appeal and not merely the fact that the losing party disagrees with the result. This could be an allegation of a significant mistake in the trial.


Appeals in Civil Cases

In a civil case, any party may appeal to a higher court. Civil appeals may be initiated if any of the parties take issue with the verdict. A circuit court judge will make the decision.

Here are some key aspects of appeals in civil cases:

  1. Grounds for appeal: A party can only appeal if they can demonstrate that there was a legal error in the trial court’s decision.
  2. Appellate court: In most jurisdictions, two levels of courts hear appeals in civil cases: the intermediate appellate court for the first level of review and the highest appellate court for the final level of review.
  3. Process of appeal: The process of appealing a civil case begins with the filing of a notice of appeal in the trial court.

Appeals in Criminal Cases

Criminal convictions can only be appealed by the defendant in most U.S. states, including Georgia. Some jurisdictions give the prosecution a limited right to appeal specific legal issues.

Typically, a criminal appeal occurs after a defendant is convicted at trial. Due to the U.S. Constitution’s restriction on double jeopardy (i.e., being prosecuted twice for the same offense), appeals by the prosecution after a verdict – where the defendant is acquitted – are often not permitted.

After exhausting all of their state appeal rights, a person under state sentence may petition the federal courts for a writ of habeas corpus (right against unlawful and indefinite imprisonment) to demonstrate that their federal constitutional rights were violated. The right to a federal review allows the courts to prevent state court abuses.

Reasons for Appeal

There are many different grounds to appeal a decision. In a general sense, on appeal, the aggrieved party asserts that the trial was handled unjustly or that the trial judge used the wrong law or misinterpreted the law.

If presented properly to the trial court, the aggrieved party may also assert on appeal that the law at issue in their case violates the United States Constitution or the Georgia Constitution. For example, if a criminal defendant asserts that the law is unconstitutional, they must demonstrate how the conviction caused harm to their constitutional rights.

Here are some of the most common reasons for appeal:

  • Legal errors: If the trial judge makes an error in applying the law or misinterprets which legal standard should be used at trial, it could lead to an unfair verdict. The appellate court will review if the trial judge correctly applied the law.
  • Procedural errors: If the trial court did not follow proper procedures, such as allowing inadmissible evidence or denying a motion to suppress evidence, it could also lead to an appeal.
  • Lack of evidence: There must be sufficient evidence for a conviction. An appeal may be filed if there is no evidence or insufficient evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt at trial.
  • Sentencing errors: If a criminal defendant is sentenced above the maximum sentence allowed by law, it can be appealed. The appellate court will review if the punishment was appropriate for the crime.
  • Violation of the right to a fair trial: The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees every person accused of a crime the right to a fair trial. If this right is violated, it can be grounds for an appeal.


How to Appeal a Case?

The party appealing is referred to as the appellant. The opposing side is either the appellee or the respondent.

The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure regulate federal appeals in federal appellate courts, whereas particular rules of procedure bind state appellate courts. However, the appeals process is fundamentally the same in state and federal courts.

On appeal, each party is required to file a brief to present to the court. Briefs in appeal proceedings outline the topics the court should examine and include legal reasons to urge the court to favor the appellant.

In certain courts, parties may also participate in oral legal arguments. Oral arguments allow the court to ask counsel questions and explain matters raised in the parties’ submissions.

If you intend to appeal your case, it is important that you seek the counsel of a lawyer with vast experience in such areas. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate your case and determine whether or not you have valid grounds for an appeal.

How Long Do You Have to Appeal Convictions?

You have a limited time to submit your appeal from the day the court’s ruling is issued. Under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4 (b), a criminal defendant must file a notice of appeal within 14 days after the entry of the judgment or the filing of the government’s notice of appeal, whichever date is later. In civil cases, you must file a notice of appeal within 30 days after the entry of judgment. However, the appeal can be filed in 60 days if the civil case involves the government.


Can You Appeal a Jury Verdict?

Yes, a jury verdict may be appealed by a person who has been convicted of a crime. However, the government may not appeal a verdict of acquittal. In civil cases, the losing party may generally appeal the verdict.

Aside from verdicts, other types of final judgments are also subject to appeal. A final ruling disposes of the matter, leaving the court with no additional questions to consider. A judgment does not need a jury verdict to be considered final.

Cases settled by summary judgment or dismissal motions are also considered final judgments. In some situations, such as the refusal of a preliminary injunction, a court may permit an interlocutory appeal.

How Many Times Can You Appeal a Case?

You can only appeal the final ruling from a lower court to the next higher court only once. However, if you appeal to an intermediary appellate court, there may be a possibility of seeking review in the highest court in that jurisdiction if you are not satisfied with the outcome.

Larger states often have three or even four tiers of courts, whereas smaller ones sometimes have just two. Federal and state courts have specific time restrictions, regulations, and processes. In addition, each state has its own rules regarding the appeals process.


Get Legal Help For Your Case at Conklin Law

If you or a loved one have been convicted of a crime and want to appeal your conviction or sentence, speak with an experienced criminal appeal attorney in Atlanta.

Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Conkin Law have focused knowledge of the appeals procedure and may give an objective assessment of your case.

Conklin Law also represents parties in civil appellate matters. Reach out now, and let’s discuss your case.

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