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Criminal Appeals

Criminal Appeals

If you were recently convicted of a crime in Florida, you may have been sentenced to harsh penalties like paying fines and facing incarceration. For defendants who don’t agree with the outcome of their trial, the state of Florida allows you to file a direct appeal with a higher court. A criminal appeal is a request for the appellate court to review the case and trial details to determine if the initial conviction and sentencing should be upheld.

Issues that often get raised during a direct appeal include rulings on pretrial motions, the improper exclusion of evidence presented by the defense at trial, or mistakes in the jury instructions. It’s important to stress that criminal appeals are a nuanced section of the legal field, meaning it could be extremely difficult to tackle on your own. The appeals process can take between eight months to more than a year from the time the notice is filed until the appellate court issues their decision in a written order. There are also specific time frames for filing an appeal, which must be followed to have a successful case. These types of cases are too important to take it on by yourself; you need an experienced defense attorney to represent you.

A criminal appellate attorney can help determine the best reasons for appealing your criminal conviction, along with guiding you through every step of the appeals process.

Attorney for Criminal Appeals in Tallahassee, FL

If you have been convicted of a criminal charge and want to appeal the conviction to a higher court, contact an experienced criminal appellate attorney in Florida. The defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law Firm can help you file a notice of appeal, make sure the record is prepared properly, brief the issues for the higher court, and argue the case during oral arguments.

Pumphrey Law is familiar with Florida’s complex laws and will help you achieve the best possible outcome in your criminal appeal or post-conviction case. If you want to file a criminal appeal in Florida, then contact us today for a free consultation at (850) 681-7777.

Information Center on Criminal Appellate Law in Florida

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What is a Criminal Appeal?

Under the Constitutional right to due process, a defendant or State attorney in a criminal trial can appeal the court’s decision, also known as a criminal appeal.

According to the Department of Justice, an appeal is not considered another trial, but an opportunity for the defendant to challenge a conviction if there were specific errors that occurred during trial. One misconception is that any defendant can file a motion to appeal for any guilty verdict they don’t agree with—the reality is that the process is more complex and has certain requirements. The appeals process is in place to have a higher court review the lower court’s decision to determine if they should keep, modify, or reverse the lower court’s decision.

Common reasons that a defendant may file a criminal appeal includes, but is not limited to:

  • Improper jury instructions that potentially violated the defendant’s due process;
  • Jury selection rules were violated, causing a potential bias in the selected jury;
  • Improper evidence was admitted that may have impacted the trial court’s decision;
  • There was misconduct among the jury during trial; or
  • Any other due process violations during the required procedures.

The type of case can indicate where the criminal appeal should be filed to. Leon County’s Clerk of Court site provides where each type of cases should be appealed to:

Contact a Tallahassee defense attorney if you have any questions about what a criminal appeal is or if your case is eligible to file an appeal.

Rules that Apply to Criminal Appeals in Florida

Florida law has many rules related to filing and litigating criminal appeals and post-conviction motions, which include:

      • A final judgment of conviction when probation has not been granted;
      • After an order granting probation;
      • After an order revoking probation; or
      • After an illegal sentence.
  • Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure § 9.140 Provides the appeal proceedings in criminal cases, including when an appeal is permitted, the reservation of the right to appeal a written order regarding a dispositive issue in the case, and an appeal after a coerced guilty plea if preserved by a motion to withdraw the plea. Under Section(3), a defendant must file a notice for appeal within 30 days of the final judgment.

The rules and regulations for criminal appeals can be complex. It is best not to try and navigate the nuanced legal field on your own. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm to review and represent your case.

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Florida’s Criminal Appeal Process

An individual who believes their conviction was wrongfully imposed may be eligible to file a criminal appeal. The process differs from a standard trial in several ways. First, there will be no jury. Secondly, your case will not be re-tried. Instead, the appellate court will determine, based on the evidence and brief provided by the defendant and their legal counsel, if a legal error occurred in the initial trial process that could potentially change or overturn the conviction.

The defendant must file a Notice of Appeal within 30 days of their judgment and sentencing. The Notice of Appeal must include the names of the parties on appeal, the name of the lower court, the case number, and whether the appeal is final or non-final.

Once the Notice of Appeal has been filed, the clerk of court must prepare a record within 50 days and serve copies to all parties. The record should include all motions, pleadings, judgments, and transcripts of your trial. The next step is to write a brief and argue the case during an oral argument. The notice must be filed with the court within 30 days of service of the clerk’s record. After everything is filed, the appellate court will make a ruling.

If the direct appeal is not successful, you may be able to pursue other post-conviction proceedings including a motion filed under Fla. R. Crim. P 3.850 due to ineffective assistance of counsel at trial or prosecutorial misconduct.

Important: The appeals process is complex and time consuming. The time constraints that are associated with criminal appeals are so strict it can even deter defendants from filing. However, with the help of a defense attorney experienced in criminal appeals, you can receive legal representation to help guide you through the appeals process.

The defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law have a deep understanding of the Florida appeal’s process. Contact our office today to receive a free consultation about your case.

Possible Outcomes of a Criminal Appeal

Once a criminal appeal has been filed, the appellate court may decide on one of the following decisions:

  1. Affirm – This means the appellate court agrees with the lower court, upholding the initial conviction and sentence;
  2. Modify – The appellate court may have found a slight error that results in the conviction or sentence being modified;
  3. Return – The appellate court may return or remand the case back to trial for reconsideration, resentencing, or a full re-trial; or
  4. Reverse – This means the appellate court found an error that impacted the defendant’s conviction, resulting in the overruling of the lower court’s decision.

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Post-Conviction Motions in Florida

Florida law also provides several types of post-conviction motions, including:

  • Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence
    Under Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.800, a defendant can file this motion if they have been sentenced to an illegal sentence that is obviously illegal. There is no limit to when this motion can be filed, and the trial court judge is permitted to correct an illegal sentence at any time. An example of an illegal sentence is if the trial court exceeded the maximum statutory sentencing requirements for the alleged crime.
  • Motion to Set Aside or Vacate Judgment or Sentence
    This motion can be filed up to two years after your sentence has become final. This motion can be filed for several reasons listed in Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure § 3.850, but the most likely reason is for ineffective assistance of counsel. For example, if you attorney did not do enough to assist you in your criminal trial, and you were prejudiced at trial because of your attorney’s lack of assistance, then can file this motion to have your judgment overturned so that a new trial can be granted.
  • Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
    If an appeal was not filed, or previous appeals were not successful, your attorney can file a writ of habeas corpus on your behalf. You may only file this type of writ of habeas corpus if you were denied a constitutional right or if the trial court did not have jurisdiction over you.

Take advantage of a free consultation with a North Florida defense attorney to discuss your case and determine if filing a post-conviction motion can help your case.

Finding a Criminal Appellate Attorney in Leon County, Florida

If you were convicted of a criminal charge in Leon County, Florida, that you believe had specific errors during trial, contact the criminal appellate attorneys at Pumphrey Law. Our attorneys can discuss the details of your case and investigate issues that can be raised in your appeal. It is important to hire an experienced attorney who can fight for the best possible outcome on your direct appeal or post-conviction motion.

Contact the office of Pumphrey Law to find out about our criminal appellate practice that includes brief writing, motion practice, oral arguments, and extraordinary writs. Our criminal appellate lawyers understand the complex rules of criminal procedure. We can provide your case knowledge and legal advice on how to move forward after filing a criminal appeal.

Call Pumphrey Law Firm today at (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your appeal or post-conviction motion. Find out more about the process to appeal your criminal case to a higher court.


Page Updated January 30, 2024

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