Criminal Appeals Attorney Answers Frequently Asked Questions

Wondering How a Criminal Appeals Attorney Can Help You if You’ve Been Convicted of a Crime?

So you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime and you are not sure what comes next. If you believe there were legal errors in your trial or sentencing, you can appeal to a higher court to review your case. A criminal appeals attorney helps convicted appellants better their chances of being approved for review.

If you or someone you love has just been convicted of a crime and are looking to appeal your conviction, call Murphy & Rudolf, LLP at (508) 570-3037 for a free consultation, or contact us online.

Am I Eligible to File an Appeal?

Eligibility for an appeal relies on the ability of the criminal appeals attorney to demonstrate that the lower court made an error in handling the trial. Institutionally, the preference is to uphold the court’s original decision. Therefore, you must show that the error was not a harmless error, that is, “any error, defect, irregularity, or variance, which does not affect a defendant, or a litigant’s substantial rights.”

To be eligible, your criminal appeals lawyer must argue one of 4 different positions:

  • The lower court (the trial level) made a serious error of law (plain error, and not a harmless error)
  • Evidence does not support the verdict;
  • The lower court abused its discretion in making an errant ruling;
  • Claim of ineffective legal representation under the Sixth Amendment (the right to a fair trial)

What Is the Appeals Process?

Before you do anything, find a criminal appeals attorney to properly help you through the process. The advantage of their knowledge and experience can benefit you tremendously.

In Massachusetts, there are generally 6 stages fo an appeals process. The State of Massachusetts outlines them as the following:

  1. Giving notice to the court and the other parties that you intend to appeal, by filing and serving a notice of appeal.
  2. Preparation of the record by the trial court including transcription of the testimony, if any.
  3. Entering the appeal at the appellate court.
  4. Briefing and preparation of the record appendix.
  5. Oral argument or submission to a panel for consideration.
  6. Decision by the appellate court.

How Long Does It Take?

It is truly hard to provide a reliable and definitive answer to this question. Unfortunately, it varies quite a lot. Our criminal appeals attorneys at Murphy & Rudolf, LLP have seen some appeals cases take less than a year, while others took up to a year and a half.

According to the Massachusetts Appellate Blog, after studying Supreme Justice Court cases, they found that “appellate litigants can expect that in most circumstances an appeal will last between 12 and 18 months, with the decision most likely to be issued 14 months after the appeal is filed.”

Can My Conviction Be Reversed?

Criminal appeals tend to ground the argument around specific aspects of the case, rather than a desired outcome. The judge responsible for reviewing the case and the appeal has three possible decisions to make:

  • Uphold the conviction, also known as “affirming the conviction”
  • Send the case back to the lower, trial court for more proceedings
  • The conviction is reversed and the case must be retired back at the lower, trial court

If you are convicted and looking to appeal, you have a limited time frame. If you are in the Worcester, MA area, contact Murphy & Rudolf, LLP for a free consultation: (508) 570-3037. Our criminal appeals attorneys are ready to help you.


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