Criminal Appeals

If a defendant is convicted in a criminal case, he has the right to take an appeal to an appellate court. An appellate court is not a trial court.  It does not re-try the case. Rather the job of the Appellate Court is to review the record of the trial in order to determine if any serious legal errors occurred and wether those errors are sufficient  to warrant the granting of a new trial or wether the charges against the Defendant should be dismissed entirely. Generally errors at trial fall into three main categories, those committed by the trial judge, those committed by the prosecutor, and those committed by the defense lawyer. Good trial lawyers prepare for a potential appeal as soon as they are retained since appellate issues often arise early on in the case.  It is important therefore for the trial lawyer to be vigilant in recognizing appellate issues and to be prepared to raise them as soon as possible for the benefit of the client. The actual appellate process is very involved and may take years before it is completed.  It involves the purchase of the notes of testimony of the trial which is referred to as the record. The record must be carefully read, sometimes by a team of lawyers, in order to identify the existence of serious error. Once the errors are identified, extensive research must be done in an effort to find case law, prior cases involving the same or similar issues, to support the appellate position of the defendant.  Once that is done the lawyer must prepare an appellate brief which sets forth the issues, the case law, and the relief which the Defendant is seeking such as a new trial or outright  dismissal of the charges.  The prosecution is required to go through the same process in its effort to convince the appellate court that the defense position is without merit.  Once the briefs for both sides are completed, the appellate court then reviews the record along with the briefs. The court may then require both sides to appear and argue their case or they may make the decision on the briefs alone. In the Pennsylvania Court system we have two appellate courts for criminal cases.  The Superior Court and the Supreme Court.  Most cases are appealed first to the Superior Court.  If the Superior Court denies the appeal the defendant may then ask the Supreme Court to consider the appeal. In the Federal System the defendant appeals first to the Circuit Court of Appeals and if necessary may ask the Supreme Court of The United States to consider the appeal. It should be obvious that this is an extremely involved and complicated process. If you are require representation for an Appeal, contact the Law Offices of Perry de Marco, Sr.  Please keep in mind that we do not charge for the initial consultation.