Federal criminal appeals are not only mystified by the attorneys with little or no experience of the process of the appeal. In such a scenario, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to go for a federal criminal appeal, you may get bewildered. To be able to choose an attorney and deal with the situation, you must have the basic knowledge about the important things related to the appeal. Read on to know a few things everybody should know about the federal criminal appeal.
Federal Criminal Appeal is not the Rehearing or Retrial – The first misconception about the federal criminal appeal is that people assume it as a retrial where witnesses and evidence can be re-examined. You should note that an appellate court, unlike the district courts, is not the court of records. No new evidence or witnesses are entertained in the appellate courts. The criminal appeal attorneys deal with a legal proceeding where they attack the judgment of the lower court, on some legal grounds.
Notice-of-Appeal and Appeal are Two Different Things –The time period for ‘notice of appeal’ is very short and most of the people start getting panic attacks because they don’t know that the short time frame is for the notice and not for the appeal. If the judgment of the district court is not in your favor, you should ask your trial lawyer to file the notice of appeal with the district court and the appellate court immediately. You can also do this by yourself and then search for an appellate attorney. Make sure that you choose a good one. It is worth mentioning that giving a notice of appeal does not bind you for appealing. If you change your mind, you can anytime dismiss the notice.
Not All Appeals are Argued Orally – When you hire an attorney for your criminal case, you might be assuming that the attorney will fight on your behalf orally with the other party’s attorney. But, the procedure of a federal criminal appeal is entirely different. The appealing attorney will first need to submit a brief i.e. the written document giving the brief about the case followed by persuasive argument highlighting the legal error in the judgment of the district court. The responding party will then have to submit its own brief. The appellant court then decides whether the case needs oral argument or not. In the vast majority of the cases, the briefs are filed and after a lapse of time, the judgment is given without any in-person contact. So, don’t assume the appealing session to be same or similar to the trial sessions you may have attended.
You must note that the factual evidence given in district courts are virtually set in stone by the time the case reaches the appellate court. So, you should not expect a magic to happen at this level. The appellant court is meant to give you justice if the district court did something wrong or you did not get adequate counsel.