State & Federal Appeals
Courts don't always get things right the first time. Bad decisions by judges and prosecutors, legal mistakes, rights violations or inadequate representation, by the trial court can sometimes lead to serious mistakes. And when courts make mistakes, the consequences are severe: Too much prison time, violations of Constitutional rights or even an innocent person in prison. That's why the federal government gives you the right to appeal a conviction that is, ask a higher court to review decisions by your trial court. In fact, if it's appropriate, you may be able to keep on appealing your case to higher courts until you reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Appeals courts aren't exactly the same as trial courts. While a trial is concerned about the facts of the case, an appeal focuses on the legal theories behind the facts. Almost all of its work consists of reading and discussing legal arguments prepared by both sides. You won't need to be present when the appeals court hears your case, and your attorney may not need to appear unless the court makes a special request. That's why, even if you're satisfied with your trial attorney's work, it's often best to hire a lawyer with experience in appeals.
Criminal appeals and post-conviction proceedings are some of the most important parts of the United States criminal legal system. Without them, unfair or wrongful convictions might never be addressed, allowing innocent or unfairly convicted people to remain in prison. The appeals process is also very technical and academic, requiring lawyers to have a full understanding of the legal theory and substantive requirements that apply in each case. Very few appeals and petitions for collateral review are successful. If you're considering pursuing an appeal in California criminal case, it's important to make sure you hire an appeals attorney who is well-versed and comfortable with state and federal appellate law.
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