The Importance of the Written Brief In an Appeal

If you need to appeal a recent criminal conviction to a higher court, the written brief submitted by your attorney is by far the most important part of your appeal. A well-written, well-argued brief is often the only opportunity you have to convince the appeals court judges that you were indeed convicted wrongfully, that you were denied due process, or that some other error occurred that negatively affected the outcome of your trial.


In simplest terms, a brief is a written argument that explains in detail what you are appealing about your case, and why. In the written brief, your attorney will review the details of the case, referring to court documents and legal precedent to identify specific instances of error or negligence that may have affected the verdict, pointing out any instances in which your rights as a defendant were not upheld, and presenting an argument based on these points that explains why the appeals court should act in your behalf. When a criminal case is appealed, both the defense and prosecution will submit a written brief for the appellate judges to review.


Written BriefUnlike trial courts, the ability to argue a case verbally at the appellate level is extremely limited. Only in rare occasions will the attorneys present oral arguments, and even then their time is restricted to a few minutes. This means that the written brief is quite likely the one and only opportunity you and your attorney will have to convince the judges to reverse or modify the trial court decision. For that reason alone, it’s of critical importance that the brief be as well-written, well-argued and persuasive as possible. It literally could make the difference between success and failure for your appeal.

It almost goes without saying that your best chance of a successful appeal is to involve a criminal defense attorney with plenty of experience with court appeals, as well as someone who understands the complexities and nuances of writing an excellent brief. To learn more, contact the attorneys of the Federal Criminal Law Center today.