The criminal appeals process can seem alien to people outside the legal system. The most important thing to remember is that while every case is different, the process itself remains the same. By understanding some of the basic elements of criminal appeal procedure, however, you can get a better understanding of what’s happening in your case.
Following are explanations of five basic points that pertain to the criminal appeals process in Texas:
A criminal appeal is essentially a review of a trial to ascertain whether or not it was fair. What the appeal court does is review the actions taken by the trial judge, and specifically whether any rulings made either before or during the trial were correct.
WHO DECIDES APPEALS
In Texas, the first criminal appeal goes to one of 14 appellate courts. Each court has three judges and most have more. Appeal court judges are elected like other judges. Each appeal is decided by a panel of three judges and the courts of appeal hear both criminal and civil appeals.
WHAT AN APPELLATE COURT ACTUALLY DOES
A court of appeal does not decide guilt or innocence. What it will do is review a verdict to determine whether there is any evidence to support it. This is known as a “legal sufficiency review.”
In some cases, the court can review the verdict to see whether it is “manifestly unjust.” This is called a “factual sufficiency review.” This is because the court only has the written record to look at. How witnesses look on paper and how they look in person are often quite different.
STARTING THE APPEALS PROCESS
To start the process you first must file a notice of appeal, which tells the court:
- that you want to appeal;
- what you are appealing from; and
- and which appellate court will hear the appeal itself.
You file this appeal in the Clerk’s office of the court where you were convicted. The Clerk will then send the notice, along with other information about the case to the appellate court.
In Texas, you must file the notice of appeal in a criminal case within 30 days of the date you are sentenced.
If you have filed a motion for a new trial, you must file the notice of appeal within 30 days after the court denies the motion for new trial.
WHAT HAPPENS IN A CRIMINAL APPEAL
After you file the notice of appeal and your record is completed, an attorney must file a brief. The state then has an opportunity to file a response. After they do, the case is ready to be considered by the court.
The attorneys at the Barrera Law Firm are experienced in all areas of criminal law, including appeals. We work closely with each of our clients to bring about the most successful outcome possible. When you need expert criminal defense from attorneys who care, contact us!