Whether civil or criminal, trials end. When they do, a party unhappy with the outcome can usually appeal. However, appeals are complicated. Specific procedures must be followed and complex legal issues can be raised. A judge, or panel of several judges, will read briefs and hear an argument as short as a few minutes before making a decision that will impact the rest of your case.
It is important to know that you have a limited amount of time to pursue the appeal so it is essential that a timely notice of appeal is filed when seeking the review of the appellate court.
Through a civil appeal, a litigant asks an appellate court to reverse a judgment or decision made by the trial court. This may happen at the end of the case (a “direct” or “final” appeal), or may happen during the case (an “interlocutory” or “non-final” appeal). To locate “appealable issues,” one must usually review the written record for procedural or legal errors.
A civil appeal is not a chance to re-try your case. Mostly, appellate judges are reviewing for errors made during the past proceedings, not second-guessing the lower court’s decision by looking at the same evidence and making their own determination. However, there are times when an appellate judge can apply a de novo standard and review a particular issue or case with no deference to the lower court’s decisions of findings.
Criminal Appeals & Post-Conviction Relief
After a finding of guilt and the imposition of a sentence, there are still several ways to challenge a criminal conviction or the legality of a sentence. Trial courts are not immune from making errors and those errors can be the basis of an appeal. An appeal is not a new trial, but a successful appeal may result in a new trial. Further, in Florida there are ways to request relief following a criminal conviction, such as by addressing the sufficiency of your criminal trial attorney or the legality of the sentence imposed against you.