Justia Lawyer Rating
American Board of Trial Advocates
The State Bar of California
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Los Angeles County Bar Association
AV Preeminent
Super Lawyers

Criminal Appeals in California

The Criminal Appeals Process in California; Los Angeles Attorney Provides a Detailed Explanation.

In short, an appeal of a criminal conviction or sentence is a request for review to determine if errors were committed during trial. There are several steps involved with the appeals process.

The first step is to file a Notice of Appeal with the trial court. In felony cases, a Notice of Appeal has to be filed within 60 days of sentencing, whereas in misdemeanor cases, the notice has to be filed 30 days after judgment.

Once a Notice of Appeal has been filed, the court clerk will order the preparation of the Reporter’s Transcript, which is a word-for-word record of the court proceedings, and the Clerk’s transcript, which consist of all documents and motions filed with the court. The two transcripts are the only things the Court of Appeal would consider when deciding your appeal. Contrary to a Habeas Corpus petition, appeals are limited to the record of the case and new evidence that were not presented at the trial stage cannot be introduced and would not be considered on appeal.

Once the complete record has been obtained, the criminal appeals attorney will review the record to determine what issues can be raised and what arguments can be made to have the case dismissed or conviction overturned, get a new trial, or have a sentence reduced or modified. After reviewing the record, the attorney will prepare the Appellant’s Opening Brief, which would summarize what happened procedurally and factually in your case. It is important to note that appeals attorneys are obligated to summarize the evidence in light most favorable to the prosecution. In addition to summarizing the record, the appeals attorney will present all the legal arguments that support a different outcome in your case.

Once your attorney files the Opening Brief, the prosecution has the opportunity to respond by filing a Respondent’s Brief in which it would counter the arguments made in the Appellant’s Opening Brief and argue that the conviction and/or sentence should be upheld. After the prosecution files its brief, you, the appellant, will have the opportunity to respond with a Reply Brief, where your appeals attorney will attempt to counter the prosecution’s arguments with information that is favorable to you. The Reply Brief is optional and is not mandated by the Court of Appeal.

Once all the briefs had been submitted, the Court of Appeal might set a date for oral arguments. Oral arguments do not happen in every case. Following that, the Court of Appeal will issue its decision in writing. If the decision by the Court of Appeal is an unfavorable one, you could seek further review by either petitioning the Court of Appeal to rehear your case, or directly seeking a review at the California Supreme Court.

There are countless arguments that can form the basis for a criminal appeal. Some of the most common grounds for an appeal include:

  • Admission of a faulty line-up procedure;
  • Ineffective assistance of counsel;
  • The defendant was not competent to stand trial;
  • Sentencing errors;
  • Improper admission of an unduly suggestive identification procedure; and
  • Improper exclusion of defendant from the courtroom during trial.

The appeals process in California can be a complex one and these are only a few of the many arguments attorneys can raise on appeal. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with an experienced attorney. At the Justice Firm, our highly skilled and reliable attorneys are here to help and to answer any questions you might have. If you or a loved one has questions about filing an appeal or about other post-conviction options, contact our California appeals attorneys today for a case evaluation locally at (310) 914-2444 or at our Toll-Free number at (866) 695-6714, or click here.

Client Reviews
I moved to another state and missed court. They issued a warrant. I called the Justice Firm and spoke to Joe Virgilio and he was very helpful. The they were able to get the warrant removed and fixed it so I got probation and could go back to work. Neal R.
My mom called the Justice Firm. I had a public defender who was pushing me to take a bad deal. My new attorney Mr Browning was able to get my case dismissed. They also gave me a number for a bondsman who gave a great price so I could get out and get back to work. Carlos G.
My son had the lawyers at the Justice Firm represent him. They were really good. Mr. Hunt always calls me back to answer my questions and let me know what is going on. We have referred several people to them over he last few years and they all thank me for it. They work with the district attorneys to get good results. Rick Q.