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How to Appeal a Federal Criminal Case

Posted by Ann Fitz | Apr 05, 2023

In many cases, federal criminal defendants have the right to appeal their conviction and/or sentence. An appeal is the legal process through which a defendant can challenge their conviction or sentence in court. Appealing a federal criminal case can be complicated and time-consuming, but it is an important option for anyone who believes that they were wrongly convicted or sentenced. In this blog post, we'll take a look at the process of appealing a federal criminal case.

The Federal Appeals Process

The appeals process begins when the defendant files a notice of appeal with the court that issued their conviction and/or sentence. The notice of appeal is then transmitted to the US Circuit Court of Appeals where it will be docketed and a briefing schedule will be sent out.

An appellate brief must include specific grounds on which the defendant is challenging their conviction or sentence and must also include any supporting evidence to back up those claims. Once the briefing is completed, it will be reviewed by a panel of 3 judges who will decide whether or not to uphold the conviction or sentence.

If the appellate court decides to uphold the original conviction or sentence, the defendant's only other recourse may be to file a petition for certiorari with the US Supreme Court. This petition essentially asks the Supreme Court to review their case and determine whether or not there was any legal error in either their trial or sentencing procedures. If granted, this petition could potentially result in overturning an unjust conviction or reducing an overly harsh sentence.

Preparing for Appeal

When preparing for an appeal, it's important for defendants to first consult with experienced legal counsel who can advise them on how best to proceed with their case. An experienced lawyer can help ensure that all relevant evidence is included in the appeal and can provide guidance regarding what arguments are most likely to be successful in front of an appellate court judge. They can also assist defendants in determining whether filing a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court would be beneficial in their particular situation.

Appealing a federal criminal case can be complex and difficult, but it is often worth pursuing if you believe that you were wrongly convicted or sentenced by your initial trial court judge(s). With proper guidance from experienced legal counsel and thorough preparation before filing your appeal, you may have greater success in overturning your conviction or obtaining more favorable sentencing terms than you otherwise would have received initially. It's important that you understand all of your available options before deciding how best to proceed so make sure you discuss your situation thoroughly with your lawyer before making any decisions about appealing your case.

About the Author

Ann Fitz

Attorney Ann Fitz Attorney Ann Fitz has 20 years of experience as a federal criminal attorney and appellate practice attorney.  She began her career as a prosecutor in 2003 and started her own federal criminal defense practice in 2007.  She is devoted to protecting the rights of the accused in f...

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