Generally, in civil and criminal cases, you can appeal a final order of the court within thirty (30) days by filing a notice of appeal with the court of appeals, and filing proper service upon certain persons. The Notice of Appeal starts the appellate process.
In criminal cases, you can appeal generally two (2) things, the conviction itself, or the sentence, or both. There are many nuances of criminal law and procedure that would lend itself to an argument to appeal either or both a conviction and a sentence. However, if you are convicted of a crime, but believe the conviction itself is erroneous for procedural or evidentiary reasons, you still have to wait to be sentenced.
Many defendants who find themselves in court hearing the “guilty” ruling want a quick resolution to overturn a wrongful conviction, but often the court will not sentence the defendant for several more weeks or months. This allows the court time to refer the matter for investigation and recommendations as to sentencing, including preparing a pre-sentence report. Many factors aside from the crime itself go into determining an appropriate sentence, including repeat offender vs. no criminal history, personal life circumstances, aggravating factors (use of firearms in commission of crime).
Because the conviction is not the end of the criminal proceedings, a defendant who wishes to appeal his conviction must wait until sentencing is complete before appealing. With few exceptions, final orders are appealable, and the criminal proceeding is not complete or final until a sentence is issued. While it may feel daunting to wait to raise an appeal with the conviction hanging overhead, it can be a benefit to wait until sentencing to appeal. First, this buys you time to find a competent attorney to handle your appeal, conference, and strategize. Second, if the sentence is also unfair, you can argue both issues on appeal at the same time.
We hope that you have found this information to be helpful in understanding the timeline for criminal appeals. This is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your specific case, CIYOU & DIXON, P.C. can help evaluate your specific case. This blog post was written by Attorney, Lori B. Schmeltzer.