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7 Tips for Winning Your Criminal Appeal



Tips for Winning Your Criminal Appeal

Tips for Winning Your Criminal Appeal

If you, the defendant, are found guilty of a criminal offense and believe that the sentence was quite harsh or was wrongly convicted, you can always appeal. A criminal appeal allows you to raise particular mistakes that could have happened during the trial. It’s complex and sometimes leads to a case returning to trial. A particular sentence can be altered, a conviction reversed, or a fresh trial ordered.

A criminal appeal safeguards you against verdicts not supported by sufficient evidence and against prejudicial legal mistakes in the proceedings resulting in the conviction. While winning an appeal is challenging, the right strategies can help you succeed. This article outlines seven tips for winning your criminal appeal.

It’s important to approach your criminal appeal with a strategic mindset. Your appeal lawyers should work closely with you to develop a comprehensive strategy that highlights the strengths of your case and addresses any weaknesses from the original trial. This strategic approach will help ensure that your appeal is compelling and presents a strong case for overturning the original conviction.

1. Determine your grounds for appeal

To be granted a criminal appeal, you must have solid grounds for the appeal. Showing that gross legal mistakes happened at trial and prevented you from receiving a fair trial is necessary if you want to succeed. Ensure you have a solid basis for a criminal appeal to increase your chances of winning. Improper admission or exclusion of evidence, false arrest, ineffective assistance of counsel, inaccurate jury instructions, sentencing errors, prosecutorial misconduct, insufficient proof to support a guilty judgment, insufficient evidence, and more are grounds upon which you can file a criminal appeal.

2. Hire a criminal lawyer

Once you ascertain that you have solid grounds for appeal, hiring a lawyer is essential to assist you in enforcing your constitutional and legal rights. And considering how serious and complex criminal appeals are, finding the best attorney is vital. A skilled and experienced criminal lawyer will review your trial record to identify errors that happened at trial and brief them to an appellate court can help ensure a successful appeal outcome.

The best criminal appeal defense lawyer, including a criminal lawyer in Edmonton, should have several years of experience handling criminal appeals, keep communication with you at the forefront, and have a track record of success. You should also ensure your criminal lawyer is reputable.

3. Identify plain errors

A plain error is a mistake evident from the records and impacts your substantial rights. Identifying these errors helps protect you from severe injustice while safeguarding the courts’ reputation and ensuring their verdicts follow a fair process. A plain error should be so apparent that it can’t be reasonably contested. It also should have affected your substantive rights. You must show it was prejudicial or impacted a lower court’s outcome. If the appellate court can correct a plain error if it’s satisfied that it severely impacts the judicial proceeding’s integrity, public reputation, or fairness.

4. File a notice of appeal

Filing a notice of appeal is the first step to beginning the criminal appeal process. It’s a document that you, the appellant, file to notify the court and other involved parties of your intention to take an appeal from a judgment or an order. You file a notice of appeal with the trial court and not the appellate. In a criminal case:

  • Your notice of appeal (defendant) should be filed within 14 days after the judgment’s entry or 14 days after the United States files a notice of appeal
  • An appeal by the U.S should be filed within 30 days after the judgment’s entry or within 30 days after you, the defendant, files a notice of appeal
  • The district court can extend the period for filing the notice of appeal for a time not exceeding 30 days from the appeal period’s expiration. However, there should be a finding of good cause or excusable neglect.

5. Prepare and file the opening brief

Your opening brief should discuss, with the help of references to the reporter’s and clerk’s transcript, the legal mistakes you claim were made during the trial court process. It should also show how these legal errors hurt you and what you want the appellate division or Court of Appeal to do. An effective appellate brief should be detailed, well-supported, and persuasive. It should contain a description of the issues in the case, your argument on the matters on the appeal, and the applying law.

An appeal isn’t a fresh trial, so the appellate court won’t consider new evidence, including testimonies from new exhibits or witnesses. This means you shouldn’t add it to your brief. Your criminal attorney can help you prepare and file a winning appellant brief on time. If you don’t file your brief within the set timelines or the extended period, the appellee might go to court to dismiss your appeal.

6. Create a solid oral argument

An oral argument allows you to clarify your statements in the brief and respond to the appellate court judge’s questions. This is an excellent opportunity to ensure the court clearly understands the case’s primary issues by noting what you think is essential. Oral argument is optional, meaning you can present it if you want to explain a problem in the brief, talk about something in another party’s brief, allow the jury to ask questions, or highlight the most critical issues in the appeal.

If there’s nothing different or new to say regarding what’s in the brief, your issues and arguments are comprehensively explained in your brief, or you don’t want to answer questions from the judges, then there’s no need to make an oral argument. However, a criminal lawyer can help to decide what to do.

7. Consider answering all questions

When preparing for your oral argument in a criminal appeal case, consider anticipating the questions appellant judges will likely ask. You should tell the court everything it wants to know. Responding to all queries and leaving as few questions unanswered as possible is the best approach to winning a criminal approach. With the help of your lawyer, create a clear roadmap of the outcome you desire to maximize your winning chances.

Avoid leaving essential matters to be addressed via judges’ questioning because there’s a risk that they might not ask the questions you anticipated. This is why you should explain all issues vital to your case in the appellate brief. Note that if you don’t file this brief, you won’t have a chance for the oral argument, where you can respond to the jury’s questions.


Criminal appeals can be challenging to win. Nonetheless, using these tips can help you win your criminal appeal.

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