If a defendant feels that their sentence is unfair or some aspect of the case violated rules or laws, an appeal can be filed. An appeal is a legal recourse available to both prosecutors and defendants as a method to have a court decision reviewed by a higher court of law. There are a variety of qualifications that an appeal must meet before it will be considered by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Each state has its own set of rules in regards to filing an appeal. All deadlines and requirements are very similar to those of federal courts. The form known as the notice of appeal is required in both state and federal courts and must be filed with the clerk where the plea was entered.
Deadlines are the most important part of any appeal process. Each step of the appeal will have deadlines that must be met in order for the appeal to be heard. The first deadline applies to the initial filing of the appeal. Most requirements call for the appeal to be filed within 10 days of the initial court decision. This ensures that an appeal is not filed years after sentencing as a way for the defendant to try and circumvent their sentence.
An appellate brief is the second step in the process. The brief lays out the reasons why the defendant or prosecutor feels that the decision is erroneous. This often must be completed within 40 days of the initial appeal filing. The prosecution in the case must also file a brief of their own detailing why the court’s decision shouldn’t be overturned.
A defendant can file a reply brief if they disagree with any aspect of the prosecution’s brief. The reply brief must be done within 14 days of the brief submitted by the prosecution. These replies are a pivotal way in which the defendant can demonstrate the flaws in their case.
The criminal appeals process can be confusing to the layperson and will often require professional legal assistance. Missing any of the deadlines stated above can result in an appeal not being heard and an unchanged sentence, whether given in error or not. The original attorney for the defendant will often continue to work for the defendant if an appeal is needed.
To learn more about appealing a court decision, schedule a free consultation with Rand Mintzer at 713-862-8880.