Please note that if you have been convicted of a crime in Washington, all is not over. A defendant who has been convicted of an offense has a legal right to appeal that conviction. And, the appellate process, if successful, can only help your case and your legal status. Criminal appeals can often be difficult to understand, but the following provides the basics as to what an accused needs to know.
What is an Appeal in a Washington Criminal Case?
If a person gets convicted of a crime in Washington state court, or even in federal court, that person can appeal that decision. The appeal basically asks a higher court, known as an appellate court, to reverse the conviction and/or sentence imposed by the lower court (typically referred to as the trial court).
If a defendant files an appeal, he will be then known as the appellant. And, he must show that some legal error occurred on the trial level in order to win.
What are the Procedural Matters in Filing an Appeal?
People must know – accused persons, defendants, convicted parties, and their loved ones – that there are time sensitive deadlines when it comes to filing appeals. In federal court, a party must file a notice of appeal within 14 days of the filing of the judgment that the party wishes to appeal. In Washington state court, this deadline is within 30 days of the date the judgment is filed. Notices of appeals, and appeals themselves, should be drafted and filed by an experienced appellate attorney.
What Happens on Appeal?
Please know that an appeal is not a new trial. The appellate court does not:
- Retry a case,
- Hear or consider new evidence, or
- Listen to testimony from witnesses.
Rather, the role of the appellate court is to review the case that took place in the trial court to determine if there were any legal errors. If the court discovers errors, then it has to decide if those errors substantially affected the rights of a party.
On appeal, the appellate court can overturn a ruling of the trial court if it determines two things. These include:
- That the trial court committed some type of legal error, and,
- That the error “prejudiced” a party.
“Prejudice” means there is a reasonable probability that the legal error made a difference in the outcome of the case. Some legal errors are considered so serious that they require reversal even without a showing of prejudice.
Please note that appeals can be complicated. They often involve lengthy research into past criminal cases; and usually require extensive analyses on both factual and legal issues. For these reasons, and many others, it is critical that a defendant interested in filing an appeal get the help of an experienced criminal appellate attorney.
The firm of Black Law, PLLC has the experience, heart and determination when it comes to representing clients on appeal, and other post-conviction forms of relief. Our firm’s criminal attorneys have over two decades of combined appellate experience. Appeals aren’t just something they do, but they are something they do while surpassing expectations along the way. Contact the firm today and get the criminal defense that makes all the difference.