How Certificates of Appealability Work

A conviction for a federal crime can be a life-changing event. Suddenly, you could find yourself facing stiff monetary fines that will destroy the financial health of you and your family, a lengthy prison sentence that would take years away from your life, and difficulties after your release from jail, like parole and other legal requirements. Therefore, appealing your conviction, sentence, or confinement can be a crucial next step. Unfortunately, when it comes to appeals, challenging your confinement through the habeas corpus process is a tricky proposition, with lots of complicated hoops to jump through. One of these hoops is the certificate of appealability.

Habeas Corpus Appeals

Appealing your confinement – also called a habeas corpus appeal – is one of the last challenges that you want to make, after being convicted and jailed for a federal crime. This is because appealing your conviction can result in a new trial, and a successful appeal of your sentence can lead to a lighter one, while appealing your imprisonment does not necessarily impact either your conviction or sentence. Additionally, habeas corpus appeals are notoriously difficult to win.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of petitions to appeal under habeas corpus are denied. Therefore, challenging the denial of a habeas corpus petition is a common aspect of the habeas corpus appeal process.

Certificates of Appealability

If your petition to appeal under habeas corpus is denied by the court, the next step is to get a certificate of appealability. This is a legal document that you need in order to let another court hear your argument that your habeas corpus appeal was wrongfully denied. Without first getting a certificate of appealability, a court cannot hear your case that your habeas petition was wrongfully denied, because the court does not receive jurisdiction over your case until the certificate is obtained.

In order to get a certificate of appealability, you need to show that you have been denied one of your constitutional rights as a U.S. citizen, frequently guaranteed through one of the Amendments to the Constitution. This showing needs to be made to a judge in a district or federal circuit court. The application process for a certificate of appealability is relatively informal, often with just a meeting with the judge in his or her chambers. Oftentimes, the prosecutor’s office is not present at the meeting, and does not argue against your case. However, the application for a certificate of appealability does need to include the legal issues that you want to raise in the eventual appeal, should you get the certificate to go on.

The Federal Criminal Law Center Handles Certificate of Appealability Applications

The attorneys at the Federal Criminal Law Center handle all aspects of an appeal of a federal crime in the most professional manner possible. We understand the importance of your appeal to your life and the well-being of your family and friends.

Contact our law office in Decatur, Georgia, if you have been convicted and sentenced for a federal crime, and are interested in taking your case to the next level.