Appellate courts are called “courts of last resort” for a reason – at no other time in the litigation process are decisions so critical, so final. That is why it is imperative to choose an appellate lawyer who can maximize your chances of prevailing. Alderman Law Firm attorneys have the expertise and experience to assist you in perfecting your argument on appeal.
Due to the nature of appellate representation, distance is no barrier to effective representation. The Alderman Law Firm has represented litigants on appeal statewide and will currently take private appeals in both Wisconsin and Colorado, and several federal courts.
If you wish to mount an appeal in a civil case, please visit our page on Civil Appeals.
What is a Criminal Appeal?
If you have been convicted of a crime, you have the right to appeal that conviction. In an appeal, you are essentially asking the appellate court to overturn a lower court’s judgment based on an error that occurred during the proceedings.
Appellate arguments are often based on complex legal interpretations. To locate “appealable issues,” in your case, your appellate lawyer must carefully review the written record for procedural errors. Issues argued during criminal appeals include ineffective assistance of trial counsel, failure to suppress inadmissible evidence, improper admission of evidence, and sentencing errors such as imposing an excessive sentence or considering improper factors during sentencing.
A criminal appeal is not an opportunity to re-litigate the facts of your case. Generally speaking, the Court of Appeals reviews cases for errors made during the trial process, and does not second-guess the circuit court’s decisions by looking at the same evidence and making their own determination. The exception to this rule is when the Court of Appeals applies a de novo standard of review to a particular issue or case.
I Have New Information Regarding my Case, May I Argue it on Appeal?
The Court of Appeals will only consider the record of the Circuit Court. Consequently, the Court of Appeals will NOT consider information that is outside the record.
In considering cases, the Court of Appeals will accept the factual findings made by the lower court. Appeals are therefore not the proper venue to introduce newly found evidence, no matter how important or exculpatory it may be.
I Want to Appeal my Conviction, Where do I Start?
If you want to appeal a criminal conviction, you have a very limited amount of time to start the process. The clock starts ticking when the trial court issues its judgment of conviction and sentence. It is imperative that you not wait to hire appellate counsel to navigate the paperwork and process involved in preserving your post-conviction and appellate rights.
What if The Court of Appeals Denies my Appeal?
If your appeal is denied, you may ask the state supreme court to review your case. Although you have the right to request such review, the supreme court is not required to hear your case. The majority of petitions for review to supreme court are denied.
If you wish to ask the state supreme court to review your case, you must file a petition for review shortly after the court of appeals decision. As is always the case with appellate litigation, time is of the essence.
What Can The Alderman Law Firm Do For Me?
Criminal appeals are decided on the written documents, which include your brief (“appellant’s brief”), the State’s response to your brief (“respondent’s brief”), your reply to the State’s brief (“reply brief”), and the written record. About 85% of appeals are denied. It is therefore vital to have your case researched and briefs written by an experienced professional.
The attorneys at the Alderman Law Firm are experienced in appellate advocacy, providing you with expert assistance every step of the way. From reviewing your case materials and transcripts for errors to skillfully drafting your appellate and reply briefs, the attorneys at the Alderman Law Firm have the breadth of experience necessary to provide you with the best chance of success on appeal.
If you choose to navigate the appellate process on your own, the court of appeals websites and internet generally have a lot of forms and guides for information to help you do this. However, it is recommended that litigants procure the assistance of an attorney, and for good reason. The appellate process is “complicated, time-consuming, and difficult.” And you only get one chance – if you blow it, there is no do-over. Moreover, pro se litigants do not receive the same special treatment or consideration at the appellate level as they do at the trial level.
Win or lose, criminal appeals have a permanent impact on your life. Your life and freedom deserve a professional.
Are You An Attorney Interested in Writing Services & Appellate Consulting?
The Alderman Law Firm offers appellate services and litigation consulting to other attorneys and law firms on a per-project basis.
What If I Have More Questions?
The above information is offered as a general overview of the criminal appeals process. This information is provided as a courtesy, and is not legal advice. If you are considering undertaking a criminal appeal, please contact the Alderman Law Firm for your free consultation at (608) 620-3529 or (720) 588-3529.