How can defendants appeal a ruling in a criminal case?

Appeals for Defendants – Criminal Case Rulings
The Right to Appeal the Ruling in a Criminal Lawsuit

When you are the defendant in a criminal case (you are charged with a crime) and your case goes to trial, the experience can be exhausting both mentally and emotionally. However, if you think the court made a mistake in their ruling, then you likely will want to appeal the ruling in your criminal case – no matter what the costs.

Before getting started, here are a few things that defendants should keep in mind about appealing a ruling in a criminal case:

  • Time constraints – If you want appeal the ruling in a criminal case, then you need to do so within a certain time frame. This means filing the correct paperwork by the deadline set by the courts.
  • Filing Requirements – If you want to file an appeal in San Diego, then you need to make sure the forms are filed in the correct courthouse. There are no filing fees.
  • Reasonable Expectations – The appellate court is not going to hear the case all over again; instead, they are going to review the lower court’s legal rulings under what is called the standard of review. They will evaluate whether or not errors were made in the ruling and, if so, did they matter to the outcome.
  • Appeals Process – If you appeal a misdemeanor conviction, then the Superior Court appellate division will hear the appeal. If you appeal a felony, then the Court of Appeal will hear the appeal. Each court consists of a three-judge panel. The Court of Appeals will set a schedule by which written briefs will be due, and then will calendar the matter for hearing. If the defendant (now referred to as the appellant) in a criminal case is in custody, he or she will NOT be produced. The Court will not announce its decision at the conclusion of the hearing, but will instead file and send you a written decision. Some decisions may be published, and others not.
  •  Losing an Appeal – If you lose a misdemeanor appeal at the Superior Court appellate division, you can appeal to the Court of Appeal. If you lose at the Court of Appeal, you can ask the California Supreme Court to consider your case in what is called a Petition for Review. The California Supreme Court does not have to consider your case, or explain why; it typically considers only a small percentage of the cases that are presented.

As the defendant in a criminal case, you have the right to file an appeal. Your criminal lawyer can help you through the appeals process, including filing the paperwork and representing you in appellate court. However, you should only appeal the ruling in a criminal case if you truly believe that the court made a mistake that had an impact on the outcome of the case.

Questions about Appeals

In San Diego, there are several legal resources throughout the community that can help defendants of criminal cases. The Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) can also provide referrals to criminal lawyers who can offer up to 30 minutes of free consultation. For a referral, please contact the LRIS at (619) 231-8585, online chat, or through the online referral form.

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