How to File a Criminal Appeal in Phoenix, Arizona

, by Bruce Blumberg

If you lose a criminal case, it’s understandable that you will want to appeal the conviction. However, not all cases will be successful on appeal. In order to prevail on appeal for a criminal conviction, you would need to show the appellate court that you did not receive a fair trial. If you are considering filing an appeal in Arizona, you need an experienced Phoenix criminal appeals attorney to assist.

What is an Appeal?

An appeal is basically a request to the higher court to review the decisions made during the lower court’s proceedings. As the defendant, you would argue that the trial court or the prosecutor violated your rights in some manner. This violation of rights would then entitle you to get a remedy, a reduced sentence or a new trial.

What Constitutes Grounds for an Appeal in Arizona?

Just because you were found guilty, your case doesn’t automatically become worthy of an appellate hearing. If your due process was violated or laws were not followed, those situations would create appealable issues. Some of the most common issues that constitute grounds for appeal include:

  • Evidence: If evidence is mishandled in a trial, it could provide grounds for an appeal. If a judge allows prejudicial testimony that unfairly influences the jury, misapplies hearsay rules, or denies your attorney the right to introduce exculpatory evidence, it could cause the fairness of the trial to be called into question.

  • Procedural Issues: When a judge doesn’t follow proper procedures, it can give rise to an issue for appeal. Examples can include reading the wrong jury instructions, not including or excluding evidence by mistake, and not complying with the rules of discovery.

  • Applying the Principles of Law: During your trial, the judge may need to apply the principles of law. For example, whether the defendant was permitted full and meaningful confrontation, whether a specific statute was applied, or whether there was a constitutional violation.

Process of Filing a Criminal Appeal

Depending on where your initial trial was held, you could have between 10 and 20 days to file an appeal. That is a very short window, which is why you need to speak with an experienced Phoenix criminal appeals attorney right away.

If the case involves a death penalty conviction, there is something called an automatic appeal. This is filed with the Arizona Supreme Court, not the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Your attorney will need to file an opening brief that specifies your arguments on why the conviction or sentence is improper. It will provide all of the supporting arguments on why the appellate court needs to hear your case and render a decision. The State will respond with an answering brief, to which your attorney can present rebuttal arguments in your reply brief.

There may be oral arguments where the appellate court has the chance to ask questions of both sides. From there, the appellate justices may affirm your conviction, reverse it, or remand it back to the lower court.

Contact an Arizona Criminal Appeals Attorney

Do you need assistance with a criminal appeal case in Arizona? Contact Blumberg & Associates today to schedule an initial consultation.