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Understanding Your Rights in Federal Criminal Appeals

Posted by Ann Fitz | Apr 10, 2023 | 0 Comments

The criminal appeals process can be complex and intimidating, especially for those facing federal charges. It's important to understand your rights throughout the process, including what standards of review apply in a federal criminal appeal. This blog will explain the different types of standards of review used by appellate courts and how they affect your rights during an appeal.

The Different Types of Standards of Review

When it comes to understanding the standards of review in a federal criminal appeal, the first step is to understand the differences between the two main types of standard – de novo and abuse of discretion. A de novo standard applies when there are issues that require independent fact-finding or interpretation, such as questions about legal precedent or interpretations of statutes. With this type of standard, appellate courts must make their own independent determinations about the facts and legal issues involved in a case without any deference to lower court rulings.  The term “de novo” is Latin for “from the new.”

An abuse of discretion standard is used when an appellate court reviews lower court decisions that involve factual findings or discretionary decisions by trial judges. This type of standard requires higher courts to determine whether there was an abuse of discretion by the lower court – meaning that its decision was arbitrary, made without proper consideration of the law or facts, or based on improper reasons. If there has been an abuse of discretion, then the higher court may reverse or modify the lower court's decision.

How These Standards Affect Your Rights During an Appeal

It is important to understand these standards because they can significantly impact your rights during an appeal. For example, if a de novo standard is applied then you have a much better chance at success because the appellate court will make its own determination without any deference to prior rulings; however, if an abuse of discretion standard applies then you must show that there was some form of misconduct or error on behalf of the lower court judge in order for your appeal to be successful. Additionally, if you don't understand what standard applies in your case then it may be difficult for you to adequately defend yourself during appeal proceedings.

Understanding standards of review is essential for anyone facing federal criminal charges who wants to protect their rights throughout the appeals process. Appellate courts use two main types of standards – de novo and abuse of discretion – which can greatly affect outcomes depending on which one applies in each case. It's important to understand these standards so that you can effectively defend yourself during appeals proceedings and ensure that your rights are protected every step along the way.

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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