Federal Criminal Appeals
Get Legal Help Today
Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
UPDATED: Oct 10, 2012
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.
When an individual is convicted of a federal crime, his or her first line of challenge to the guilty verdict is a federal criminal appeal. A lost appeal essentially affirms or finalizes a federal conviction or sentence. A federal criminal appeal is a review of the court proceedings and a determination of whether the trial was conducted properly; it does not reverse a guilty verdict per se and a federal appellant whose case is overturned is still subject to re-prosecution.
The rules governing federal criminal appeals can be found in 18 U.S.C. § 3732. A federal appeal is governed under different procedures than a normal trial; it is sent to an appellate court that reviews the transcripts of the court proceedings and the briefs (initial legal documents) prepared by both sides and then makes a determination as to the trial’s legality. However, the appellate court does not make a guilty or innocent determination. Instead, it looks for legal errors; on occasion, a criminal proceeding is reversed or dismissed outright. Errors can be found that do not reverse the outcome of the case; however, constitutional errors usually result in verdict reversal.
The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedurelay out the rules for federal criminal appeals. The process is usually quite lengthy and will involve long briefs, document and trial transcript review, and oral arguments. Federal appellate courts do not hear actual witness testimony during their case; instead, they read the briefs, any documentation, and sometimes hear oral arguments before rendering a decision.
Every defendant in the United States court system has the right to an appeal. However, some criminals waive this right when they cut plea bargains with federal attorneys. A guilty plea automatically waives the right to a federal criminal appeal.