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Should You Request an Appeal?

Posted By: On behalf of J. Kevin Stockstill, Attorney At Law // On:

 

What are court appeals?

If you've been to trial and don't believe that you were rightfully convicted or sentenced, you may request an appeal. An appeal asks a higher court to review certain aspects of a case for legal error or serious mistakes regarding the conviction or sentence. For civil cases, either side can appeal. In criminal cases, however, there are restrictions. The defendant can appeal the conviction or sentence.

An appeal is not an opportunity for a second chance. An appeals court simply looks at court record and does not consider new evidence or hear from witnesses in order to make a decision on an appeal. It's important to understand that the appeals court must not only find an error, but an error that affects the outcome of the trial in order to grant an appeal.

In the state of Louisiana, you have limited time to file a notice of appeal. You have 30 days from the finality of conviction or 30 days from a judge ruling on sentence reconsideration if a motion for reconsideration was filed. Though this is only a short time to decide to appeal, you are only filing a notice. You can change your mind at a later day if you don't want to move forward with an appeal.

Appeals Court

The defendant becomes the appellant in appeals court. The appellant's request for an appeal argues that some key legal mistakes were made and greatly affected the jury's decision and/or sentence and that the case should be dismissed or the appellant should be re-tried or re-sentenced. The appellant must file an intent to appeal that details the exact issue(s) the appellant believes were unjust shortly after initial trial.

There are no official court reporters, witness stands, or juries in appeals court. Instead, appeals are considered by a panel of three judges who read and research court records on which the appeal is based. Some cases are decided solely on the trial writings, but most require oral arguments. In an oral argument, lawyers on each side of the case receive a short amount of time to argue their side to the three judges.

A decision is made after the three judges meet and vote on the outcome. There are three possible outcomes:
  • lower court decision is upheld and nothing changes
  • lower court decision is reversed or overturned, awarding the appellant
  • case is remanded or sent back to lower court for further action or a new trial

Should you attempt an appeal?

Appeals are very costly and can take several months to complete. In any case, it is important to survey all options and possibilities before going forward with an appeal. A consultation with a lawyer can greatly assist you in making that decision. Call Kevin Stockstill today for an appeal consultation.

 

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