Please note that if you have been convicted of a crime in Washington, all is not over. A defendant that 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.


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. Please note that only a defendant can file an appeal. A prosecutor can never appeal an acquittal in a criminal case.


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 10 days of the filing of the judgement 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 get drafted and filed by an experienced appellate attorney. 


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.

Please note that appeals can be complicated. They often involve lengthy research into past criminal cases; and, may involve timely 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.

We serve clients throughout Washington including those in the following localities: King County including Bellevue, Kent, and Seattle; Benton County including Kennewick; Chelan County including Wenatchee; Clallam County including Port Angeles; Grays Harbor County including Aberdeen; Kitsap County including Port Orchard; Kittitas County including Ellensburg; Pierce County including Tacoma; Skagit County including Mount Vernon; Snohomish County including Everett; Spokane County including Spokane; Thurston County including Olympia; Whatcom County including Bellingham; and Yakima County including Yakima.

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Black Law PLLC