What is a Colorado Direct Appeal?

In Colorado, a direct appeal is an appeal from a trial court decision, filed immediately following entry of judgment within the trial court. On direct appeal, Colorado appellants may only argue alleged legal errors made by the lower court. Commonly alleged trial court errors include the improper admission of evidence, an incorrect jury instruction, or a conviction based on insufficient evidence. Importantly, a defendant cannot argue that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in a direct appeal.

Generally, an appellant filing a direct appeal argues that, due to an error committed by the trial court, a particular judgment should be reversed. Even if the reviewing court finds error, however, reversal is not guaranteed. Most errors are reviewed for harmlessness, meaning that an error will only require reversal where there is a reasonable probability that the error had an impact on the outcome of the case.

Appellants must be aware that a “win” on direct appeal – reversal of a judgment – often results in a remand of the case to the trial level court where the case may be re-tried. This is an especially important consideration for criminal defendants, who may face new charges and longer sentences should a new conviction be entered on remand.

A losing party is only afforded one direct appeal. For example, a loss in the district court may be appealed once to the court of appeals. While it is true that a loss in the court of appeals may be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court, the supreme court has discretion to decide whether or not it will hear your case.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation.