If you have been convicted of a crime, your next step is to consider whether or not to appeal that conviction. By filing a direct appeal, you ask a higher court to review the legality of your conviction or sentence.
If you have been convicted of a state charge, your appeal would be heard in the appropriate state appellate court. If you were convicted of a federal crime, a direct appeal is taken to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Texas.
A direct appeal must be based on the existing record as of the date the appeal is filed. The facts in the record will be used to show that you were unjustly convicted or unfairly sentences. For example, motions made during the trial that were denied may be a basis for a direct appeal if they were in error.
Here are five things to keep in mind about criminal appeals:
Deadline. Texas law requires that an appeal must be requested within 30 days after an order is entered or a sentence is imposed. If a motion is filed requesting a new trial from the trial judge, the time to request an appeal is 90 days. If these deadlines are not met, the right to an appeal is waived barring an extraordinary exception.
Issues. An appeal is not a do-over. It is usually a dispute about the judge's rulings during trial that affected the outcome of the case.
Costs. Filing an appeal with the appellate court is free, but you will need to pay for copies of the court reporter's record and the clerk's record unless a court finds that you are incapable of paying. Attorney's fees for your appeal vary depending on the complexity of the case.
Timing. Once an appeal has been filed, it can take an appellate court up to nine months to render a decision. The court must review all the records and, if granted, hear oral arguments.
Decisions. When an appellate court issues its opinion, it either agrees or disagrees with the lower court's decision. If it disagrees with the lower court's findings in your case, it can either (1) reverse and enter a judgment of acquittal, or (2) reverse and remand. When a decision is reversed and remanded, that means it returns to the original trial court, where the trial court must take into consideration the appellate court's interpretation of the law in resolving the case.
The Cogdell Law Firm is a boutique law firm focusing on large, complex business and criminal financial-related litigation, including white collar criminal defense, securities fraud, health care fraud investigation, criminal appeals and state criminal defense. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or [email protected]
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