There are few things more stressful or frustrating than receiving an adverse verdict in a criminal case. In Illinois, a defendant has the right to appeal an unfavorable decision by a judge. A conviction does not mean the end of the fight. That being said, bringing a successful appeal in a state or federal criminal case is not easy. There are unique rules and procedures that you need to know.
A criminal appeal should always be filed by an experienced appellate law attorney. Even a seemingly small error in your appeal could cost you your opportunity to pursue justice. In this article, our Chicago criminal appellate attorney provides an overview of the criminal appeals process and explains why it is so important to have a lawyer with specialized appellate law experience.
Strict Deadline: You Have a Limited Amount of Time to Initiate an Appeal in Illinois
As a starting point, it is important to emphasize that there are very strict deadlines in the criminal appellate process. You must be prepared to start your appeal very shortly after receiving an adverse verdict from a judge. As explained by the Illinois Courts, a defendant who has been convicted of a criminal offense should start the appeals process by filing something called a ‘Notice of Appeal.’
As a general rule, a Notice of Appeal in Illinois must be filed within 30 days of the date that the trial court entered the judgment in your case. To be clear, a Notice of Appeal is not your entire appeal. Instead, it is simply a legal step that you need to satisfy to start the appeals process. An experienced Chicago appellate lawyer can help you submit your timely Notice of Appeal in a criminal case.
Appellate Law Tip: Do not miss your opportunity to file an appeal of an unfair decision. Start the process of initiating your criminal appeal in Illinois as soon as possible.
An Appeal is Not a Re-Trial: You Must Raise Specific Grounds for Appeal
The next step in the process is understanding how appellate law actually works. Your appeal is not a chance to have a second hearing. It is not a re-trial and it is not a new trial. As succinctly explained by the American Bar Association (ABA), the primary role of an appellate court in a criminal case is to review the legal process and the decision of the lower court to “errors in the trial’s procedure or errors in the judge’s interpretation of the law.” To bring a successful appeal in a criminal case in Illinois, you must have specific grounds. Some notable grounds for appeal include:
- Evidence Flaws: Many criminal appeals are filed on the grounds of flaws in the evidence. Ultimately, the evidence is what is key in a criminal case. Some examples include poor evidentiary rulings, allowing inadmissible evidence into court, and improperly suppressing exonerating evidence.
- Improper Jury Instructions: The decision of the jury is heavily influenced by the specific instructions that it receives. If the jury received improper instructions regarding your case, you have a right to appeal the decision on those grounds.
- Misapplication of Law: You can appeal a criminal conviction on the grounds that the judge or the jury misapplied the law in your case. If there was a misapplication of law that was material and substantial, it could justify a remedy—potentially even a brand new trial.
- Ineffective Assistance of Counsel: Constitutional rights matter. You have the right to assistance from competent legal counsel. If you believe that you were poorly served by your initial criminal defense lawyer, you may be able to appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel.
- Excessive Sentence: Beyond the criminal conviction itself, the sentencing can also be appealed. If a defendant receives an unreasonably—and potentially unlawfully—excessive sentence, they may have grounds for resentencing through an appeal.
An Illinois criminal appellate law attorney will be able to review the decision, evaluate the process used by the trial court, and determine what, if any, grounds for appeal are available in your case. It is imperative that you are able to raise all possible grounds for appeal as part of your challenge to an adverse verdict. These are highly technical legal matters and this is a specialized area of law. A criminal appeal should be prepared by an experienced Chicago appellate lawyer.
Appellate Law Tip: A successful appeal requires providing specific, well-supported grounds that demonstrate a miscarriage of justice. Make sure your appeal is clear and backed by strong arguments.
Your Appellate Brief is Central to Criminal Appeal
A criminal appeal is far different than a trial. With very limited exceptions, the appellate court will not hear new evidence. Instead, it will be restricted to reviewing the evidence that has already been entered into the record. Oral arguments are not a big part of the appeals process. Instead, the core of your appeal is the appellate brief.
As described by the Illinois Courts, an appellate brief is your opportunity to tell the appeals court “why the trial court should not have entered an order or judgment against you.” An appellate brief should be comprehensive, well-argued, and include compelling citations to the relevant state and/or federal law.
Appellate Law Tip: An appellate brief is a highly technical legal document that should be drafted by an Illinois attorney who has the skills, experience, and professional expertise to handle criminal appeals.
Call Our Chicago Criminal Appeals Lawyer for Immediate Help With Your Case
At The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, our Chicago criminal appellate lawyers have the specialized legal expertise that you can count on. If you have any questions about filing a criminal appeal, we are here to help. Give us a call at 312.726.9015 or contact us here to set up a fully confidential, no-obligation initial consultation. From our Chicago legal office, we provide appellate law representation throughout Northern Illinois, including in Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, Will County, and Kendall County.