What are Post-Conviction Appeals?

In general, the word “conviction” means that, after trial, the jury has returned a verdict of “guilty” on at least one criminal charge.

Post-Conviction Appeals

Very broadly, the legal phrase “post-conviction appeal” means any effort that occurs after conviction by a jury of one or more criminal charges that seeks to overturn, nullify, or modify the jury’s verdict for various reasons based in law and/or in criminal procedure. However, some criminal defense attorneys and judges will use the phrase “post-conviction appeal” more narrowly to mean efforts to overturn the jury’s verdict that are directed to the trial judge that oversaw the trial. Many simply call these “post-trial motions.” Either way, these efforts are distinguished from appeal efforts directed to a Court of Appeals and from appeal efforts made through use of legal mechanisms like a habeas corpus petition.

For example, in Decatur, Georgia, following the jury’s verdict and after the judge has completed sentencing, it is common for Georgia criminal defense attorneys to file a written request that is called a Motion For a New Trial. In the narrow sense of the phrase, this Motion is a post-conviction appeal because it is made after the jury’s verdict and made to the same judge that handled the trial.

To continue the example, after the trial judge issues a ruling on the Motion For a New Trial, the Georgia criminal defense lawyers can then file an official Notice of Appeal that will take the case to a new court: the Georgia Court of Appeals. All criminal defendants have a legal and constitutional right to take an appeal from their conviction to the Court of Appeals. In the broad sense of the phrase, these are also post-conviction appeals since the efforts are being made after the jury’s verdict — post-conviction — and these efforts seek to overturn, nullify or modify the verdict and/or the sentencing. Beyond the Georgia Court of Appeals, post-conviction appeals might be taken to the Georgia Supreme Court, out to the federal courts and might even be accepted by the US Supreme Court. All of these are post-conviction appeals in the broad sense of the phrase.

These same definitions apply to federal courts as well. Federal criminal charges are handled by the federal District Courts. After a jury’s conviction, federal criminal defense lawyers can file various post-conviction appeals with the District Court judge. For example, like for criminal cases in DeKalb, GA, in federal criminal cases, a Motion For a New Trial can be filed. After the resolution of a Motion For a New Trial (and all post-trial motions), an official Notice of Appeal can be filed that takes the federal criminal case to the relevant federal Circuit Court of Appeals. A final post-conviction appeal might even be taken to the US Supreme Court.

Speak With a Criminal Defense and Post-Conviction Appeal Team Today

For more information, contact the criminal defense and post-conviction appeal team at Shein, Brandenburg & Schrope at the Federal Criminal Law Center. We specialize in both Georgia and federal post-conviction appeals. Our firm knows how to fully assess an individual’s case and how to identify the strongest grounds for appeal. Contact us today by calling (404) 633.3797 or by completing our quick and convenient online form. We are located in Decatur, Georgia, not too far from Atlanta.