Four months after visiting some family in DC, I was notified of very serious allegations made against me. I had just moved to a new city and didn’t know who to turn to, but I knew I needed a skilled criminal defense attorney. I started my search online and came across Jason Kalafat’s profile. The […]
Washington, DC Appeals System
The Washington, DC appeal process can be complicated since it involves meeting various strict deadlines. A Washington, DC criminal lawyer can help provide a person with information on how the appeals system works and important considerations that need to be made before proceeding with filing an appeal.
The Appellate System
An appeal can be filed after a lost trial or in very limited circumstances on a specific issue. In the case of a lost trial, the defendant has 30 days after they are sentenced to file a notice of appeal with the Superior Court. This begins the process whereby all of the records relating to the case, including the transcript and exhibits, are sent over to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals will set a briefing schedule which provides the appellant with a deadline for filing an appellate brief and the appellee or the government with the amount of time they have to respond once the brief has been submitted. Finally, the appellant will be able to respond to the Government’s reply.
Appeals Process Timeline
The appeals process will take several months for all of the briefs to be filed and then thereafter the Court of Appeals typically takes anywhere from four months to a year to make their decision. In DC, if someone has a felony case or a case that was decided by an associate judge of the Superior Court, then the appeal goes to the DC Court of Appeals because there is no DC Supreme Court, unlike in most jurisdictions.
An exception exists regarding cases that were heard before a magistrate judge in the Superior Court, which is one level down from an associate judge. These cases are usually misdemeanors and are handled by the Office of the Attorney General. For a person to appeal a case that was handled by a magistrate judge, the person must first appeal the case in front of an associate judge. There are two levels of appeal in this situation, but this is limited. As far as how the appeal is handled, oftentimes defendants appealing their case are unable to secure their own counsel. They will have counsel appointed for them if they cannot afford their own counsel, but they have the right to retain counsel of their choosing.
Important Considerations for Filing an Appeal
It is important to consider what issues exist for an appeal. In other words, it can be a time consuming and expensive process, so it is important to discuss with an attorney and strongly consider if there are viable issues for appeal and whether you want to retain counsel. Obviously someone who loses at trial and is being sentenced for a significant prison term is going to want to appeal.
Appeals and Sentencing
A person will probably consider the sentence they received after the trial loss and whether to appeal the case. In certain circumstances, if the individual is able to secure a very lenient sentence, but decides to appeal, they run the risk of winning the appeal, having it sent back to the trial court for a new trial and ultimately ending up with a worse sentence.
It is important for a person to keep in mind the length of time that the appeal process could take. For practicality purposes, some people want to move on if they did not receive a particularly harsh sentence. Some people will decide that there is an issue, but they do not want to drag it out in court for another year or so. These are all considerations that a person should keep in mind during discussions with their DC appellate attorney when they are deciding whether they want to appeal. Please do not hesitate to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our DC appellate lawyers.