Criminal defendants in state court have the right to appeal an unfavorable verdict if a legal error contributed to the conviction. Likewise, a defendant in a federal criminal case has the right to appeal a negative decision through the federal appellate court system. However, be warned, the process of pursuing a federal criminal appeal is technical, lengthy, and complicated.
If you want to appeal your federal criminal conviction, you should speak with an Omaha federal appeals lawyer at Berry Law today. Our legal team has the experience and knowledge needed to successfully handle these types of appeals. One of our skilled federal appeal lawyers could help you appeal your case and contest an unfavorable verdict.
A dedicated federal crimes attorney at Berry Law can ensure you understand the appeals process and fully explain what you can expect during a federal criminal appeal. We will work tirelessly to reach a favorable outcome on your behalf, while keeping you informed every step of the way.
What is the Purpose of a Federal Criminal Appeal?
It is important to understand that a criminal appeal in federal court is not a retrial of the original criminal charges. A federal defendant cannot introduce any new evidence or offer witness testimony during an appeal because it is not an evidentiary trial process.
Instead, during an appeal, your federal appeals lawyer is obligated to present written or possibly oral legal arguments, case law and legal precedent, and solid proof that your legal rights were somehow violated during the criminal trial in the lower court.
The purpose of an appeal is to contest the verdict of the trial court on legal or procedural grounds. Not every federal criminal conviction is appropriate for an appeal since there are only a few situations that support a criminal appeal. Speak with an Omaha criminal defense attorney to learn if you may be eligible to bring an appeal after your federal conviction.
Grounds for Appealing a Federal Criminal Case in Omaha
Only “prejudicial” errors may support a federal appellate court reversing the verdict of a lower court. A prejudicial error must have had a substantial impact on the filing party. This means that if the appellate court finds there was an error, but it did not meaningfully affect the outcome of your case, that error will not justify changing the lower court’s ruling.
Potential grounds for appeal include:
- Improper court procedures, or
- Inaccurate interpretations of evidence
- Leading to a fundamentally unfair verdict.
In these cases, you and your federal appeal attorney must demonstrable a reasonable probability that the error was harmful to the outcome of your federal trial and, therefore, an appeal is warranted.
If a constitutional error is involved, the burden is reversed. If a constitutional error occurred during your federal criminal trial, and your constitutional rights were violated, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the error was harmless to the outcome of your trial.
What are the Steps in the Federal Appeals Process?
File the Initial Notice of Appeal
The appeals process in federal criminal court begins when you and your lawyer file either a petition for review or a notice of appeal. After filing one of these options, you may receive further correspondence about the appeal. These communications may include requests for additional forms, notification of filing fee requirements, and information about potential problems with the case. All communications will include a docket number assigned by the Court of Appeals Clerk’s Office.
Appellate Court Schedule is Set
During a federal criminal appeal, a strict schedule will be established and both sides to the appeal must meet certain deadlines. One of the most important requirements is preparing and filing an appellate brief to support the appeal. This brief is highly technical and must contain certain elements or it will not be considered by the appellate court.
Briefing the Issues
Your federal criminal attorney will prepare your brief, including all relevant legal arguments and supporting case law, and submit the brief before the deadline set by the court. The federal prosecutor will usually file a response brief within the time frame set by the court for the response. Depending on the allegations contained in the response brief, your attorney may need to file a reply brief to address any issues not fully discussed in the original brief.
An Appellate Decision is Rendered
Generally, federal appellate courts resolve cases “on the briefs,” meaning the Court of Appeals does not schedule a hearing for oral arguments. Instead, the court makes a decision based solely on the documents and written arguments filed by each side during the appeal. In some situations, the Court of Appeals may schedule oral arguments which gives both lawyers the chance to further argue their positions. The Appellate justices also have the opportunity to ask questions.
An experienced federal appeal lawyer will craft and present a sophisticated argument on your behalf and be prepared to present spoken arguments if oral hearings are set. If the Court of Appeals hands down an unsatisfactory decision, your appellate lawyer can explain the next steps which may include seeking a writ of certiorari to bring your case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Berry Law’s Team Provides You With Multiple Attorney Perspectives
Learn More by Talking to an Omaha Federal Appeals Lawyer at Berry Law
The consequences of a conviction in federal criminal court are often much more severe than a conviction for equivalent charges in state court. Nevertheless, you may still have the right to appeal your verdict if you believe a prejudicial error led to an unfair outcome.
Achieving a positive resolution to a federal appeal is much more likely when you receive assistance from a skilled and dedicated criminal appellate lawyer who has successfully handled similar cases. Contact our Omaha federal appeals lawyers today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your options and understand your rights.