Direct Appeals

If you are convicted of a crime and decide to appeal your case to a higher court, it’s imperative to have a skilled defense attorney on your side to improve your chances for a successful appeal. The attorneys of the Federal Criminal Law Center have many years of experience in filing successful direct appeals, both in state and federal court.

Understanding Direct Appeals

Direct AppealUnder both state and federal law, if you are convicted of a crime, you have the legal right to appeal your conviction to the higher courts. Depending on whether you were tried in state or federal court, direct appeals are made either to the appellate court for the state, or to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals for your district.

In a direct appeal, your attorney will submit a written brief detailing specific reasons why your case should be reviewed and/or your conviction overturned, citing specific instances where court errors or negligence prevented you from receiving due process or a fair trial, or other factors that might have wrongly affected the outcome. Occasionally, the attorney will also be summoned to court to present short oral arguments regarding the appeal. Upon review, if the appeals court judges agree that significant errors may have skewed the outcome of the trial, they may remand the case back to the lower court to make certain corrections (such as modifying your sentence) or they may vacate your conviction completely, opening the door to a possible new trial. If the appeals court affirms the lower court’s decision, you may also appeal to the state or federal Supreme Court; however, these courts hear cases at their own discretion, and usually only if a constitutional question has been raised.

Direct Appeals Versus Collateral Appeals

A direct appeal should not be confused with what is known as a collateral appeal. Direct appeals are made to the appropriate higher court for review, while collateral appeals are specific post-trial motions made to the lower court. There are specific reasons for each type of appeal, and your attorney will help you formulate a strategy for each.

Other Considerations With Direct Appeals

In any appeal to a higher court, it’s important to note that your attorney is not challenging the jury verdict directly, but instead challenging the validity of the case itself based on noted errors that may have thwarted justice. Also, since many appeals are decided solely on the written briefs and not on oral arguments, it’s critical to hire an experienced attorney who can write an effective brief, because it may be the only opportunity you have to make the case plain. Finally, for an appeal to be effective, your attorney must be able to convince the courts that significant errors, negligence or miscarriage of justice have occurred in your case, not simply highlight minor or trivial errors. An experienced attorney will be able to identify the points of argument that are most likely to carry weight.

Our Experience with Direct Appeals

With many years of proven experience at both the state and federal levels, the attorneys of the Federal Criminal Law Center have a thorough knowledge of the complexities of the law and the inner workings of the appellate courts, as well as a solid track record of filing effective direct appeals.