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Orange County Criminal Appeals Lawyer

A criminal conviction is not always the end of a criminal case. After a conviction, there could be reason to appeal the decision if there were errors or misconduct during the criminal trial. Even if an appeal isn’t possible, there are other ways to reduce or change sentencing after a conviction. An Orange County criminal appeals attorney can guide you through the options if you are facing a criminal conviction, such as a petition for the writ of habeas corpus or resentencing under a new state or federal law.

At Power Trial Lawyers, we understand that you’re going through a stressful time. A criminal conviction is scary, and it can be overwhelming to handle an appeal that may alter your future. Our experienced appellate attorneys can counsel you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected. A criminal appeal may be the right route to take if:

  • You were inadequately represented.
  • Incorrect laws were applied to your case.
  • Evidence should have been suppressed or used.
  • You were wrongly convicted.
  • Legal procedures were not followed.

Appeals can be successful when a legal error was made that altered the conviction result. An appeal is not the right option if there is new evidence or if you didn’t like the outcome of your case. The attorneys at Power Trial Lawyers, can walk you through your post-conviction options to appeal, limit, or alter your sentence. We understand how severely these cases can impact your future, so we treat each case with the individual care and attention it deserves. If you believe you were wrongly convicted, Power Trial Lawyers, wants to help you fight for your freedom.

Direct Criminal Appeals

A direct criminal appeal happens when a criminal conviction is brought to a higher court for review. Appeals are necessary when there is bias, bad judgment, or other legal errors present in the trial. To have a successful appeal, the following must be true:

  1. The criminal trial had mistakes or legal errors.
  2. These mistakes and errors directly altered the outcome of the trial and led to a conviction.

A successful appeal is also dependent on the skill of your attorney.

What Are the Most Common Grounds for a Criminal Appeal?

A criminal appeal often addresses legal errors such as:

  • False arrest.
  • Sentencing didn’t match the crime or conviction, or other sentencing errors.
  • Evidence was allowed in the trial or suppressed that shouldn’t have been, and this harmed the defendant’s case.
  • Prosecution misconduct.
  • Jury misconduct.
  • The jury was improperly instructed.
  • Incorrect laws were applied to the case.
  • There was not enough evidence to convict.
  • Abuse of discretion by the judge.

If you were inadequately represented by your legal counsel, a direct appeal may not be the right option. Often, new evidence is required when someone is provided with legal counsel ineffective enough to alter the outcome of their conviction. If new evidence needs to be introduced to the court, a direct appeal should not be used. In a direct appeal, the higher appellate court reviews the record of the trial that happened. A claim of ineffective legal counsel is often included in a petition of writ of habeas corpus.

The appellate court will often not alter the decision of the lower court for appeals based on:

  • Whether a witness was credible
  • If one witness’s testimony should be given more weight than another
  • How valuable a certain piece of evidence was to the case

These are considered factual determinations, and the appellate court will reflect the lower court’s decision in the matter.

How Do You Win an Appeal Case?

To win an appeal case, you need an effective and qualified appellate attorney who understands post-conviction work. An appeal case is more likely to succeed when there is a legal error that impacted the conviction, and the attorneys at Power Trial Lawyers, can review the initial criminal trial to find how and where those errors occurred. We have a high success rate because we look over every decision made and word spoken by the lower court throughout the trial to find improper statements, discretion errors, jury tampering, and other errors.

How Does an Appeal Work in a Criminal Case in California?

The appeal process follows a specific timeline. After a conviction, you must take action quickly to file a direct appeal. Here are the steps that an appeal will follow:

1. Filing a Notice of Appeal
Appealing a case has to be done soon after the conviction. If you were convicted of a felony, you have 60 days from the date of the conviction to file a Notice of Appeal. For a misdemeanor conviction, you have 30 days. If you do not file the Notice of Appeal within this timeline, you will lose your right to file for a direct appeal and will automatically lose. The sooner you begin working with an appellate attorney, the sooner you can file for the appeal and ensure that everything is done correctly.

  • Misdemeanor Notice of Appeal

Any misdemeanor judgment that impacts your substantial rights can be appealed. The right to appeal adverse misdemeanor judgments is under Penal Code 1466(b). You can appeal a conviction, sentence, order, or another part of the misdemeanor case.

  • Felony Notice of Appeal

After a jury or court trial and conviction, felony convictions can be appealed under Penal Code 1237. This Penal Code also allows you to appeal a guilty plea. Appealing any felony conviction requires the knowledge and experience of an appellate attorney.

  • Bail Pending Appeal

This motion can lower your bail, which can allow you freedom and provide a good beginning to an appeal case. The right to bail relief is under Penal Code 1272. The court reviews several factors when determining whether to grant this appeal. This includes your community and family ties in the area, along with your record of attendance to court appearances and hearings. Better community ties and a good record of attendance means that bail relief is more likely.

2. Preparing Records
After the Notice of Appeal has been filed, records and documentation must be gathered and organized for the appeal. Records include the report’s transcript and the clerk’s transcript. The report transcript is a word-for-word documentation of the trial, while the clerk’s transcript includes the various orders. Both these records include all the documents, evidence, and testimony of the trial. These records need to be reviewed carefully to find the basis for your appeal.

3. Filing the Opening Brief
Once records have been reviewed, the official appeal is filed. Your attorney can help you properly draft the opening brief. Attorneys at Power Trial Lawyers, can craft the appeal with the strongest breach of law or rights first. This makes it immediately clear to the appellate court the errors that were made. Because you are the party filing the appeal, you are the petitioner and therefore have the opening filing and the last argument in the case. Once you file the appeal, the prosecution can respond.

4. Prosecution’s Respondent Brief
If the prosecution wants to challenge the appeal, they can file a Respondent’s Brief. This brief will counter the errors brought up in the appeal. An effective appellate attorney can create an Opening Brief that is stronger than the Respondent Brief.

5. Reply Brief
If there is a Respondent Brief, you have the opportunity to respond to its claims. This is called a Reply Brief. This response does not include any new information or evidence but simply responds to the counters in the Respondent’s Brief.

Our attorneys believe that a Reply Brief is a good step in your case. If there is an option to file one, we will, as it provides another chance to build the argument for the appeal. The Reply Brief allows us to point out gaps or errors in the Respondent Brief. This increases the chances of an appeal’s success. Reply Briefs must be filed within a certain timeframe.

6. Appellate Court Review
The court of appeals is different than a criminal court trial. There is never a jury, and there are rarely witnesses. Instead, an appellate court is made of 3 to 5 judges, the prosecutorial attorney, and the defendant attorney. It’s essential to work with an attorney experienced in appellate courts, as the experience that a criminal defense attorney has is not the same.

During the court review, your attorney may present an oral argument in favor of your appeal. This isn’t always allowed in the appellate review, but it allows the attorney to convince the judges why your conviction should be appealed. At Power Trial Lawyers, we nearly always utilize oral arguments if they are available. The oral argument allows an effective attorney to explain why the appeal should be granted and answer questions that the judges raise.

Oral arguments have a specific sequence: first, the appellant, which is you and your attorney, makes an opening argument. The prosecution can then respond, followed by your attorney’s closing argument and response. It’s important that this closing response does more than just repeat information.

7. Rehearing Petition
After oral arguments, the appellate court will issue its ruling. If the outcome of the appeal is not in your favor, you can petition for rehearing in a very small timeframe. This petition option is ideally utilized when there was a mistake or forgotten information in the appellate hearing. If this isn’t the case, you can petition to review an appellate ruling with the Supreme Court.

8. Petition to Review
If there are no grounds for rehearing, or a rehearing of the appellate ruling failed, then you can petition the Supreme Court to review the case. The prosecution also has the option to petition the Supreme Court if they disagree with the ruling.

These eight steps make up many conviction appeal cases. It has the potential to be an incredibly complex process, which is why you need a skilled appellate attorney.

How Long Does a Criminal Appeal Take in California?

The length of an appeal can take a few months to several years. If there is only one appeal process necessary, and the case is not particularly complex, it may move quickly. However, if an appeal requires significant record review, a rehearing, and a Supreme Court appeal, the process can take several years. The more complex a criminal case is, the longer the appeal process will be.

Why Do I Need an Orange County Criminal Appeals Attorney?

The appeals process is not simple. Representing yourself throughout this process would be difficult under any circumstances. In addition to complex laws, you are also in an incredibly overwhelming situation, and your freedom and future rest on the outcome of this appeal. It is not easy to properly represent yourself alone when you’re facing potentially serious criminal penalties.

When you have an appellate attorney by your side, your appeal is more likely to be successful. While you may have never faced these settings and procedures before, your attorney has done so many times. They understand the necessary deadlines, procedures, and legal requirements.

Although your attorney has significant experience in appellate reviews, an effective attorney can take the time needed to understand your unique situation. This helps them tailor their strategy to your needs and better argue your need for appeal. Your appellate attorney can support you throughout the process and provide you with a clear understanding of your situation. You shouldn’t have to fight for your rights alone.

Additional Post-Conviction Options

An appeal is not the only option for altering a conviction sentence. There are other legal options for those who want to reduce their sentence. If an appeal isn’t possible because there were no legal errors that lead to the conviction, post-conviction resentencing may provide you with the relief you deserve.

The First Step Act

For inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes, the First Step Act provides routes to reduce sentencing. This act has three aspects: correctional reform, sentencing reform, and a reintroduction of the Second Chance Act.

1. Correctional Reform
Correctional reform addresses recidivism risk, or the likelihood that someone who is convicted and imprisoned of a crime once is likely to enter the system again. The Department of Justice is required to create a risk and needs assessment and put inmates in programs that could limit recidivism. Participation in these programs allows inmates to earn credits that could allow them to earn an early release. Custody before release may be done in a reentry center or confinement in a home.

2. Sentencing Reform
This alters certain penalties for federal offenders, such as:

  • Reducing the mandatory minimum sentence to 15 years instead of 20 when the offender only has one prior conviction
  • Requiring a higher number of prior convictions for those convicted of repeat drug crimes before mandatory minimum sentencing applies
  • Expanding the safety valve provision, which allows courts to sentence below the mandatory minimum to offenders of nonviolent drug crimes with minimal prior criminal history
  • Lowering the mandatory life sentence for offenders with 2 or more qualifying convictions to 25 years

There are additional changes so that past convictions reflect current laws.

3. The Second Chance Act
The reauthorization of the Second Chance Act creates grants for career training, mentoring and transitional service programs, substance abuse treatment, and additional reentry programs. This helps limit recidivism.

Writ of Habeas Corpus

Your writ of habeas corpus can be used when your imprisonment, arrest, or detainment was unlawful. By invoking this right, you can challenge the conditions you are detained in, the basis for imprisonment, the length of time you spend behind bars, and other restraints on your personal liability.

If your imprisonment is illegal for any reason, such as being based on evidence that should have been suppressed because it was gained illegally, you can file a petition for illegal imprisonment. This is also true if evidence in your favor should have been included in the case but was wrongfully excluded. A petition for writ of habeas corpus requests the following:

  • Your incarceration term is limited.
  • Illegal conditions of your imprisonment are stopped or corrected.
  • Your rights are declared and respected.
  • You are released from law enforcement custody.

A writ of habeas corpus also allows you to file new evidence to the court. It doesn’t appeal a conviction but instead attempts to reduce sentencing.


Before SB1437, a person charged with a felony, such as a burglary, could be charged with murder if someone died during the felony. They did not have to be directly responsible for the death to be charged with murder. However, this no longer applies, and those charged with felony murder may be eligible for a reduced sentence if they would not be convicted for murder under SB1437.

Commutation of Sentence

Commutation of sentence, or AB 2942, gives offenders additional ways to reduce their sentence. By filing an Application for Commutation of Sentence, you can ask that your situation be reviewed by the governor’s office. Some offenders may be immediately eligible for parole. The Governor will consider several factors, including disciplinary records, behavior during imprisonment, and the ability of an offender to become a productive member of society. An attorney can help you file for a commutation of sentence and get the necessary character witness statements.

Contact Power Trial Lawyers

The attorneys at Power Trial Lawyers, believe in dedicating time and care to every individual case. If the criminal justice system has failed you, we want to protect your rights. If you qualify for the appeals process, or want to reduce your sentence, we want to counsel you through the process and help you find the most ideal outcome. Contact Power Trial Lawyers, today.

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