Criminal convictions are serious matters that can have life-changing consequences. 

But what happens when you believe that the criminal justice system has failed you? 

Are there avenues available for those seeking to challenge their convictions?

Yes, it’s called a criminal appeal.

In the state of California, the process of appealing a criminal conviction is available to those who wish to challenge their verdict. 

While it’s not an easy process, it does offer hope for those who believe they were wrongfully convicted or unfairly sentenced. 

Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding the Basics of Criminal Appeals

Before delving into the process of appealing a criminal conviction, it’s important to understand the basics. 

A criminal appeal is not a retrial, but rather a request for a higher court to review and potentially overturn the decision made by the trial court. 

What does that mean?

It means that new evidence cannot be presented and the appeal will focus on legal errors made during the original trial. 

Only a small percentage of criminal convictions are successfully appealed, so it’s important to have a strong case and experienced legal representation.

The Steps in the Appeals Process

The first step in the appeals process is filing a notice of appeal with the appropriate Appellate Court which must be done within a certain time frame after the conviction (30 days for a misdemeanor and 60 days for a felony), so it’s important to act quickly. 

The Appellate Court will then review the record of the trial court proceeding as well as any written arguments or briefs submitted by both parties. 

Your briefs will outline your argument for why your conviction should be overturned or your sentence reduced. 

This involves researching legal precedent and crafting persuasive arguments that convince the Appellate Court that errors were made during your trial that warrant further review

After this initial review, oral arguments may be scheduled where each side can present their case in person.

Attending Oral Arguments

Once all briefs have been submitted, the Appellate Court may schedule oral arguments to allow both sides to present their case in person. 

This is an opportunity for you and your attorney to answer any questions the judges may have and clarify your position on the evidence and legal issues at hand.

Each side is given approximately 30 minutes to argue their position. 

When all briefs and oral arguments have been presented, the Appellate Court will issue a written decision either upholding or overturning your conviction/sentence.

This usually happens within 30 days from oral argument, sometimes longer. 

Possible Outcomes of a Criminal Appeal

After reviewing the case, the Appellate Court can either uphold the conviction or overturn it. If the conviction is overturned, a new trial may be ordered, or the charges may be dismissed entirely. 

It’s also possible for the appellate court to make changes to the original sentence, such as reducing it or ordering a different type of punishment.

Bottom line is the process of appealing a criminal conviction is very complex but an indispensable aspect of the legal system.

As we navigate through appellate procedures, it becomes evident that every case holds unique challenges and opportunities. 

It’s imperative for individuals involved in such proceedings to seek competent legal counsel and understand their rights thoroughly.