Federal Appeals

An appeal is the legal process through which a criminal conviction and sentence is reviewed by a higher court, and the court of appeals is the only court which can correct errors in a defendant’s trial or sentencing. In federal court, the process of appealing a criminal case begins with the defendant filing a notice of appeal, which must be done within 14 days of the judgment. This deadline is crucial to the appellate process. If you have been sentenced in federal court and are contemplating an appeal, you should contact an experienced federal appellate lawyer before this important deadline passes.

In the federal system, 94 district courts are organized into 12 circuits, or regions. Each circuit has its own Court of Appeals that reviews cases decided in U.S. District Courts within the circuit. The appellate courts do not retry cases or hear new evidence. They do not hear witnesses testify. There is no jury. Appellate courts review the procedures and the decisions in the trial court to make sure that the proceedings were fair and that the proper law was applied correctly.

Federal appeals require academic research and writing. In order to succeed on challenging your criminal conviction and sentence on appeal, you need an attorney familiar with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and federal law. Your attorney must be a strong, capable writer and file a brief within the deadlines set by the appellate court. Often, the court of appeals will set an oral argument to discuss the merits of the brief. Therefore, you need a competent, experienced lawyer who not only can write persuasively, but also one who has the skills to argue their brief in front of federal circuit judges. Molly has extensive experience filing federal appeals and has argued in front of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is an experience that a limited amount of lawyers in Georgia have had. Before deciding who to hire to write an appeal of your federal conviction or sentence, make sure you ask every lawyer you are considering how many federal appeals they have written and whether they have had oral argument in front of the 11th Circuit. You will need a smart, dedicated attorney to appeal your federal conviction or sentence and experience matters tremendously in this area.