The Appeal Process
If you are found guilty after a trial, you have the right to an appeal process. There are many reasons for an appeal of a criminal case, but appeals are also very difficult, so talk to a lawyer to make sure you know what is best for you.
There are also important deadlines that apply to appeals. If you miss the deadline, your appeal will most likely be dismissed:
- For misdemeanor and infraction cases, you must file a "Notice of Appeal" within 30 days of the date of the judgment or order.
- For felony cases, you must file a "Notice of Appeal — Felony (Defendant)" within 60 days of the date of the judgment or order.
Keep in mind that the appeal is not a new trial. The appellate court can review the trial record (testimony and exhibits) to see if the trial court made a legal error. The appellate court does NOT decide the facts of the case as the judge or jury in the trial court does.
You can only appeal if:
- You say there was not enough evidence in your trial to justify the verdict or judgment; and/or
- You say there were mistakes of law during or before the trial that hurt your case.
If you say there was not enough evidence in your trial to justify the judgment, the appellate court will review the record and decide if there was substantial evidence to support the judgment. If you say mistakes of law were made, the appellate court will hold a hearing to listen to both parties. Then they will decide if there was any irregularity or mistake that prejudiced (hurt) your case.
In addition to appealing after a trial, there are other situations when you can file an appeal, like appealing the validity of a plea or probation violations. Talk to your lawyer to learn more about your options to appeal.
Misdemeanor Conviction Appeal Forms
If you are appealing a misdemeanor conviction, you can appeal to the appellate division of the superior court. Read the Information on Appeal Procedures for Misdemeanors (CR-131-INFO) if you want to appeal a guilty conviction in a misdemeanor case.
You can find all of the forms in the Misdemeanor Appeals Packet (L-0986) including a request for a court appointed lawyer. The court is required to appoint a lawyer to represent you on appeal only if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer and your punishment includes going to jail or paying a fine of more than $500.00 or you are likely to suffer other significant harm as a result of being convicted. There are numerous forms with strict filing deadlines. If the court does not appoint an attorney and you cannot afford one, contact the court’s Self-Help Center (hyperlink) for assistance.
The Notice of Appeal must be filed in the Criminal Department of the court where your case was heard within 30 days after the court rendered the judgment or made the order you are appealing.
Felony Conviction Appeal Forms
Appealing a felony conviction is complicated. With the exception of the Notice of Appeal-Felony (CR-120), documents are formally prepared. You should consult the attorney who represented you.
The Notice of Appeal must be filed in the Criminal Department of the Central Justice Center within 60 days after the court rendered the judgment or made the order you are appealing.
Infraction convictions are filed and processed by the Traffic Division at the court where you were convicted. You can read more about appealing an infraction conviction in the Traffic section of this website.