criminal defense attorney

How to Appeal in a Criminal Case

By David Hammond

If you have been convicted of a crime and sentenced, you may feel defeated and without hope. There may be, however, several different ways for you to challenge your conviction. One such way is through a criminal appeal.

How to Appeal in a Criminal Case

The court you appeal your case to will depend on several factors, including the level of crime of which you have been convicted. You see, there are different court levels in New York. The trial courts form the lowest level. They are considered to be the finders of fact. Convictions and sentences are made at the trial court level. At the appellate level, the courts are not tasked with fact-finding, but they do review the legal decisions rendered at the trial court level.

If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you can file an appeal of your conviction in the local county court. If you were convicted of a felony, you can take your appeal to the Appellate Division. Which of the four Appellate Divisions will hear your case depends on your county. Furthermore, you may be able to appeal your case to the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state. While a criminal defendant does not have the automatic right to take a case to the Court of Appeals, he or she may be and must be granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeals. Be forewarned, however, that most of the applications made to the Court of Appeals to hear a case are denied. Approved applications are generally reserved for those cases where an important question of law arises or there was a dissenting opinion in the court decision below.

To appeal your New York criminal court conviction, you must file your notice of appeal. Not only must this notice of appeal be properly drafted, but it must also be filed in a timely manner, and served. The notice of appeal, which memorializes in writing your intent to appeal your conviction, is different from an appellate brief that will be later filed and present your arguments to raise on appeal. It must be served within 30 days of your sentencing and failure to meet this deadline could mean dismissal of your appeal. It should be noted that it is generally a good idea to go ahead and file a notice of appeal before the allotted time runs out even if you are unsure as to whether you really want to appeal. Should you later decide not to appeal, no harm is done by simply filing the notice. Timely filing the notice, however, keeps the option open for you.

Your notice of appeal must include your name as well as the docket number or indictment number associated with the case you are appealing. It should also indicate which court you are appealing from and whether the appeal is seeking to address the judgment or sentence or both handed down by the trial court. Two copies of the notice of appeal must be filed with the clerk of the criminal court in which your sentence was imposed and you must have acopy served on the prosecutor.

Criminal Defense Attorneys

Talk to the knowledgeable criminal defense team at CDH law about your options for post-conviction relief. That guilty verdict does not have to be the end of the road. CDH Law is here for you. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.