Appeals

If you believe the trial court has improperly admitted or excluded evidence, has given the jury an incorrect instruction or committed any other error of law that resulted in your conviction, you may have a right to appeal the guilty verdict.

You need to move quickly, however, to preserve your right. You have 90 days after the final judgment in a felony or gross misdemeanor to file an appeal. In misdemeanors, the period is only 10 days. If you fail to file within the required time frame, you lose your right to appeal, waiving any claims you could have raised. At our office, we have an extensive understanding of the unique aspects of appellate practice. Whether it is analyzing the trial court record, drafting and filing the appellate brief, or presenting legal issues during oral argument, we approach every case with the attention it requires. We take a holistic approach to every case, examining all ramifications of an appeal, not just the criminal ones. We know that, in some situations, a good outcome from a criminal law perspective may have a devastating impact on other areas of your life. For example, you may get the ruling you want on the criminal matter but lose your license to practice your livelihood in the process. We help you understand all your available options and the likely consequences of those options.

How is a criminal appeal different than a criminal trial?

A criminal appeal takes place in most circumstances following conviction.  An appeal is not heard by the same judge who presided over the trial and no jury is present, instead, it is typically heard by a panel of three judges of the court of appeals.  In Minnesota, the Minnesota Court of Appeals hears most, but not all criminal appeals of state convictions.  At the Minnesota Court of Appeals, a three judge panel is assigned to hear your case and to make a decision regarding the appellate issues you raise.  The issues are initially identified and argued by briefing to the panel.  After briefing is complete, the matter is typically set on for oral argument which is an opportunity for your appellate counsel to argue to the court why the redress you seek should be granted.  In addition, some appeals are taken directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court as of right, but not many.  Those few cases that go directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court are identified by rule.  The Minnesota Supreme Court also has the discretion to hear appeals from the Minnesota Court of Appeals by Petition for Discretionary Review.
Because appeals are very time sensitive, you should talk to an attorney immediately following conviction regarding your appellate rights.

Is it better to have my trial lawyer handle my criminal appeal or better to have a new lawyer handle it?

Your trial counsel is usually in the best position to assess whether or not you need a different lawyer to handle the appeal of an adverse jury verdict.  Some trial attorneys prefer not to handle appeals because of the exacting nature of appellate work. Others feel as comfortable in the courtroom as they do researching and writing briefs.  Since an appeal involves a review of the entire transcript of your trial, you will not be disadvantaged in any way by hiring a new lawyer to handle your appeal.  In fact, the transcript, together with the trial exhibits, is the record on appeal that is considered, together with briefing and oral argument, by the appellate court in deciding your case.

Call an attorney right away to discuss your case and determine if the appeals process is right for you. Don’t wait and lose your right to appeal. Call our law firm now for a free consultation: (218) 736-5456.

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