An appeal is a lengthy process that requires patience, diligence, and hope. While your attorney will have strict deadlines on how long he or she has to file an appeal of your conviction, there is no strict deadline on how long an appeals courthas to render a decision on your appeal.
Appealing criminal convictions can take years.
Why do criminal appeals take so long?
There are at least a few reasons why the appeals process takes a while:
- Courts’ dockets are typically very full with cases, and this is especially true for appellate courts.
- Judges and clerks have to review the merits of each case very carefully. The researching, reading, and writing it takes to issue an appellate opinion takes time.
- There are not the same statutory and constitutional time limits placed on appeals that are in effect for your trial.
Technology has helped to speed up the process in some jurisdictions by allowing lawyers to file briefs and motions electronically, but it still takes time.
What else do you need to know about criminal appeals?
Appeals are not meant to try the case all over again. The purpose of appeals is to determine whether errors were made during trial. Remember, however, that any errors identified by an appellate court must have had a profound impact on the outcome of your case. If the error is considered harmless and a judge determines that your case would have come out the same way, then your appeal will be unsuccessful.
There are several ways your attorney can argue that errors were made during the trial. A few examples errors can include:
- A request to overturn a judge’s ruling about allowing certain evidence into trial, evidence that your attorney argues should not have been admissible in court.
- When judges miscalculate the sentence. This all-too-common error can lead to re-sentencing.
Are criminal appeals costly?
The cost of filing an appeal just depends on the complexities of the case and the issues being raised in the appeal. It also depends on the level of experience your lawyer has in filing criminal appeals, and the level of success that he or she has had with appeals.
The following factors might come into play when determining how much it will cost to file an appeal:
- How long was your trial and how many hours of transcripts must be reviewed to handle your appeal?
- How complicated are the legal issues in your case and how long will the briefs be that the lawyer will be filing?
- Will your lawyer have to appear and argue before an appeals panel an oral argument hearing?
- Will your lawyer be appealing to a higher court if the first appeal is not successful? If an appeal is not granted by the Louisiana Appellate court, your attorney may make an appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Criminal appeals are often very complex — and they are known for taking a long time. If you or someone you care about has questions about filing a criminal appeal, you need to consult with an experienced appeals attorney. Contact Sam Winston’s office today for help.