Criminal Appeals

law_hammerIn the context of criminal law, an appeal is a challenge to a conviction based on legal error or other cognizable wrongs during the trial. The ability to appeal is actually a right for both parties in a criminal case. In essence, by appealing your case, you are asking a court of higher authority to review certain aspects of the trial record and correct any legal errors, such as improper evidentiary rulings. The way you proceed in an appeal depends on whether the conviction stems from a misdemeanor or felony offense. How appeals are handled by the court also differ between misdemeanors and felonies.

About Misdemeanor Appeals

In order to qualify as a misdemeanor or infraction appeal, the case must involve only misdemeanors and/or infractions. If a felony is attached, the appeal will be treated as a felony appeal. Under the California Constitution (Article 6, section 11)  and California Penal Code section 1466, all cases which are misdemeanor or infractions on sent to the appellate division of the California Superior Court.

Filing Deadlines and Other Timing Matters for Misdemeanors

Deadlines for important events and filings in misdemeanor appeals is governed by the California Rules of Court in sections 8.800-8.817and 8.880 through 8.891. The filing of the notice of appeal is the only process that cannot receive an extension of time. Practically every other part of the appeals process can receive an extension of time from the court. Among some of the important deadlines are the following:

  • Notice of Appeal must be filed within 30 days of sentencing (no extensions),
  • Appellant’s notice of election of record of oral proceedings and form of record must be filed within twenty days of notice of appeal,
  • Designation of exhibits within ten days after last brief by respondent,
  • Court reporter is notified by court that his/her transcript will be used on appeal and the reporter’s preparation of said transcript must begin promptly on receiving the election notice and immediately upon notice from court respectively,
  • Statement on appeal must be filed by appellant within twenty days of filing the election of record,
  • The respondent must file an amendment to statement of appeal within 10 days of the above step,
  • Request by either party to hold hearing to correct statement on appeal must be requested within ten days of the respondent’s amendment to the document,
  • Opening brief by appellant must be filed within thirty days after the filing of the record,
  • The respondent’s brief must be filed within thirty days after the appellant’s brief,
  • The appellant can file a reply brief within twenty days of the filing of the respondent’s brief,
  • Oral argument scheduling is given by notice within twenty days before the proposed date,
  • A request for a rehearing must be done within fifteen days of the decision,
  • The decision itself¬† by the appellate court will become final thirty days after the decision is filed.

Although the above deadlines can seem numerous and confusing, they are only some of the possible time sensitive matters that can apply to an appeal. In reality, there are many timing decisions to be made in the appeal process and if you plan on hiring an attorney for your appeal, you need to choose someone who truly understands the both the step by step process and the big picture.

Procedure in Misdemeanor Cases

The appellate court will review the appellant’s case per the local rules of court, California Rules of Court and any applicable California statutes.

If you are considering filing an appeal as a proper appellant, consider reviewing the available judicial council forms at http://courtinfo.ca.gov/forms/. If you need assistance filing an appeal, contact DWB Law Office today for a consultation.