What Happens In A Federal Criminal Appeal?

Federal crimes are often associated with highly complex legal and trial procedures, and can have incredibly strict penalties upon conviction. However, the same complexities of the process can be utilized as grounds for an appeal to overturn a conviction. A successful federal criminal appeal could reduce imposed penalties or ultimately reverse the conclusion of a lower court, but only if there are sufficient grounds to appeal.


Superior courts at both the federal and state levels will not hear a criminal appeal based simply on the existence of a guilty verdict. In other words, an appeal will be thrown out if the entire rationale is that the accused is dissatisfied with the judgement of the lower court. To successfully file a federal criminal appeal, you must cite at least one potential error with the legal process that could have affected the outcome of your case.

Common issues that may constitute a federal criminal appeal:

  1. Pretrial motions: The legal procedures completed before trial begins are just as important as the trial itself. A close examination of pretrial motions and decisions could reveal a significant error that can justify overturning a ruling, such as the lower court allowing evidence to be used against a defendant that was collected without a search warrant.
  2. Evidentiary inconsistencies: How admissible evidence is handled (or not handled) within a trial could cause an error worthy of an appeal, as in a lower-court judge preventing a key witness from testifying without due cause.
  3. Evidentiary sufficiency: Most federal charges can only be followed with a conviction if the accused is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” Evidence that arguably is not sufficient enough to satisfy this evidentiary standard could be grounds for a valid federal criminal appeal.
  4. Sentencing: All convictions should follow preset sentencing guidelines to dole out penalties. A punishment for a federal crime conviction that goes well beyond the normal guidelines, or does not use the right guideline, may be appealed.


After sentencing is imposed in a federal criminal case, defendants will most likely only have 14 days to file a notice of appeal to challenge the ruling. Anything filed beyond that date might be unusable. If you believe your federal conviction should be overturned due to mishandling of evidence or a legal error, contact Berry Law’s federal criminal appeals attorneys headquartered in Omaha and Lincoln. With the firm by your side, you may be able to challenge the authenticity of your federal crimes trial, ultimately contributing to dropped charges or a reduced sentence in some cases. The Omaha federal criminal appellate attorneys at Berry Law have the abilities, experience, and know-how to appeal your case, regardless of the opposition or court.

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