Some Information About Appeals Process
Appealing Criminal Court Decisions
The appeals process is complicated with strict rules as set out in the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Fourth District in the State of Florida hears civil and criminal cases that qualify for the attention and consideration of the appeals court. In criminal cases, the prosecution (State of Florida) brings cases at the circuit court level against defendants facing criminal allegations. If a defendant received a conviction and sentencing, he or she has the right to file an appeal with the District Court of Appeal. It is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney represent you at the appeals court level, as the procedures are very exact concerning filing, written briefs and oral arguments.
At my firm, T. Charles Shafer, Attorney at Law PLLC., I serve as counsel in a range of criminal cases including those dealing with drug crimes, DUI, juvenile crimes, sex crimes, theft crimes, violent crimes and non-violent crimes. I am AV® Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell® and I have over 29 years of experience practicing law. Through hard work and maintaining high ethical standards, my firm has achieved successful results for clients both inside and outside the courtroom.
The Appeals Process in Fort Pierce
Some may have the misconception that the appeals process is an opportunity to retry their case when they receive an unfavorable verdict or judgment. The appellate court is not a second jury as its purpose is to make sure that justice was served in the trial courts and lower tribunals. Appellate courts will consider and review decisions and determine if a harmful legal error occurred that affected the outcome of the case.
The district court of appeal is the last decision point except in rare circumstances where the Florida Supreme Court may further review a case. The party who files an appeal to challenge a decision made by the trial court is an “appellant” and the opposing party trying to up uphold the decision is the “appellee”. Due to the complicated nature of the appeals process and procedures, it is best to have a proven attorney handle your case at this level. If you attempt to handle an appeal without an attorney, you are subject to the same standards and may lose your case due to a technicality or some other type of mistake.
Written Briefs and Oral Argument
All of the appellate procedures must be performed within the timeframe allowed by law starting with the filing of the Notice of Appeal. All records and trial transcripts must be produced as part of the preparation and filing. The legal arguments of the appellant or appellee are set forth in a written “brief” which contains the arguments for each issue as to why the decision in the case should be reversed or upheld. The brief must also adhere to the rules on its layout, length, and number of copies served on the opposing party and as to submission to the appellant court, and other strict guidelines.
The party must give formal and separate notice to present oral argument in the case. Oral argument, if granted, is presented to a three-judge panel and is short, allowing only 15 or 20 minutes. Careful planning and execution of written briefs and oral arguments are essential in appeals cases.
Appellate Court Decisions
The judges will discuss the case only after they have reviewed the briefs, heard oral arguments and completed their own research. They will send a written notice that they either agree with the trial court and affirm the decision, or disagree with the trial court and reverse the decision. On a reversal, the judges will provide a written opinion as to the error that occurred in the trial court.
My firm can provide you with further information on the appeals process and the specific procedures.
Call my firm, T. Charles Shafer, Attorney at Law PLLC., for legal help with an appeal in your criminal case.
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