When you’re charged and convicted of a federal crime in a district court — whether that’s over something like Medicare fraud or money laundering — your next thoughts may (naturally) be about an appeal.
Understanding what needs to happen now is very important. Your future — and possibly your freedom — depend on it.
How long do you have to file a notice of appeal?
Your notice of appeal must be filed quickly. The notice is not your actual appeal — which may take a considerable amount of time to prepare. Instead, it is merely your statement to the court that you intend to appeal your conviction.
Generally, you have only 14 days after judgement is entered in your case to file your notice of appeal with the district court that heard your case.
What are the grounds for an appeal?
One of the most essential things that every federal defendant in your position needs to realize is that an appeal is not the same as a new trial. While you may ultimately be granted a new trial, an appeal is not a rehashing of the evidence or testimony presented at trial.
Instead, an appeal is based on things like:
- Prosecutorial misconduct, including things like the failure to turn over exculpatory evidence
- Judicial misconduct, including biased comments or rulings that negatively affected your case or swayed the jury against you
- Jury misconduct, including things like a juror who took it upon themselves to research your background, the case or the law online
- Procedural errors, which can include misinterpretations of the rules that allowed improperly obtained evidence or evidence that was unnecessarily prejudicial into the trial
- Ineffective assistance of counsel, which can mean things like your attorney had a hidden conflict of interest or another problem that put you at a disadvantage
Sometimes, an appeal may be focused around other technicalities, such as your sentence. Maybe you accept that a conviction is inevitable but feel that your sentence was unreasonably harsh and miscalculated according to the law.
Ideally, you’ll never find yourself in this position. The moment that you suspect you may be facing federal charges is the right time to seek legal assistance. Every federal case needs to take the “long game” approach, and an stalwart criminal defense strategy can help.