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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

APPEALS

 

What exactly is an appeal?

If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you have the ability to file an appeal to a higher court. In an appeal, we will file a brief — a written argument– explaining to a higher court why your trial was bad or why you conviction should be thrown out. The higher court will review the brief, the law applicable to your case as well as the record of what happened at your trial in order to decide what to do about your conviction.

 

Who can appeal their conviction?

Anyone that’s been convicted of a crime can appeal their conviction. You may be able to appeal your conviction even if you pleaded guilty to an offense.

 

What court do we appeal to?

If you’ve been convicted of a crime anywhere in Alabama, you will appeal your conviction to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in Montgomery.

 

If you’ve been convicted of a crime in federal court, you will appeal your conviction to a federal circuit court of appeals. A federal circuit court of appeals is a regional court that hears appeals from the federal district courts within that circuit. For example, if you were convicted of a federal crime in a federal court in Alabama, you would appeal your conviction to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia, which hears appeals from the federal courts in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

 

How do we appeal my conviction?

After you have been sentenced, we will file a “Notice of Appeal” with the trial court and the appropriate appellate court. This will tell the courts that we’re appealing your conviction or sentence.

 

How long do we have to appeal my conviction?

You have very little time to let the courts know you intend to file an appeal. You must file your notice of appeal for a criminal appeal in federal court within 14 days of sentencing. In Alabama, you have 42 days to file your notice of appeal.

Once we file your notice of appeal, the appellate court will give us a briefing schedule. We do not have to file your brief at the time we file your notice of appeal.

 

What kind of issues can we raise on appeal?

An appellate court makes sure that the trial court followed the rules of criminal trials and looks at the legal issues presented by your case such as:

-Did the police conduct an illegal search of your home or vehicle?

-Was the jury allowed to consider illegal evidence?

-Did the trial court improperly instruct the jury about the law applicable in your case?

-Did the prosecutor makes improper comments to the jury?

Each case is different and there are thousands of issues that can arise in every criminal appeal. We will investigate any and every possible line of defense to challenge your conviction.

 

Can we appeal the sentence I received?

Depending on where you are, yes, an appellate court may review your sentence to see if it is too harsh given your circumstances.

 

How long does an appeal take?

The appellate process can take a few months. Once you have filed your appeal, the government will have a chance to respond and you will have a chance to reply to the government’s response. If your case presents a new question of law, the appellate court may order oral arguments on your case. Once your case is submitted to the appellate court, it generally takes a couple of months for them to hand down a decision – the tougher the question, the longer the wait.

 

What happens if we lose our appeal?

If the appellate court doesn’t rule in our favor, we can ask the highest court available to consider our case. For example, if you are appealing a criminal conviction in Alabama and the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals denies our appeal, we can then ask the Alabama Supreme Court to review our case. If we are denied review at the Alabama Supreme Court, we can ask the United States Supreme Court to review our case. If the federal circuit court of appeals denies our appeal, we can then ask the United States Supreme Court to review our case.

 

RULE 32 PETITIONS

 

What is a Rule 32 petition?

Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure is a rule that provides people convicted of crimes a way to challenge their conviction after their appeals have been exhausted.

 

Where do we file a Rule 32 petition?

We would file your Rule 32 petition in the circuit court where you were originally convicted of your crime.

 

What can we raise in a Rule 32 petition?

The most common issue raised in a Rule 32 petition involves claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. If your trial counsel did a terrible job representing you at trial, we would file a Rule 32 petition and would explain to the court how your trial attorney did a terrible job and why this should entitle you to relief.

 

Also, if there’s newly-discovered evidence in your case, or if there has been a change in the law in your favor, we can file a Rule 32 petition and explain to the court how this evidence shows that your conviction should be thrown out.

 

When can we file a Rule 32 petition?

Rule 32 petitions are usually filed once you’ve exhausted your appeals in the Alabama appellate courts. We generally must file a Rule 32 petition within one year of the date on which a certificate of judgment was issued in your appellate cases. (A certificate of judgment is a document that basically says ‘Your case became final on this date.’) So, if the Alabama Supreme Court entered a certificate of judgment on your appeal on January 1, 2013, we would have until January 1, 2014 to file a timely Rule 32 petition.

 

If we want to file a Rule 32 petition based upon newly-discovered evidence, we must file the petition within six months of discovering the new evidence. So even if your case is really old, if we find new evidence and we file a petition within six months of its discovery, we will have filed a timely petition under the rules.

 

What happens after we file a petition?

After we file our Rule 32 petition, the State of Alabama will have a chance to respond to the petition. If the court thinks we have presented an issue that needs further consideration, the court may order an evidentiary hearing on the questions we’ve presented. We will go back into court to present evidence, call witnesses, or do whatever is necessary to show the court that you are entitled to relief.

 

What if our petition is denied? Can we appeal the denial?

Yes. If the trial court denies our Rule 32 petition, we can appeal that denial to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.

 

§ 2254 PETITIONS

 

What is a § 2254 petition?

A § 2254 petition is a petition filed in federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In this petition, we ask a federal court to review your conviction from a state court.

 

What can we raise in § 2254 petition?

In a § 2254 petition, we will argue to the federal court that your conviction violated the rights guaranteed to you by the United States Constitution or by federal law. For example, we will argue that the illegal police search of your home that uncovered evidence that was improperly used against you at trial violated your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, or that you were denied your Sixth Amendment right to the effective representation by counsel at trial.

 

When do we have to file a § 2254 petition?

We generally have one year from the date your conviction becomes final to file a § 2254 petition. If we discovered new evidence in your case or if the law suddenly changed in your favor, we would have one year from those dates in which we could file a § 2254 petition.

 

What happens after we file a petition?

After we file our § 2254 petition, the government will have a chance to respond to the petition. If the court thinks we have presented an issue that needs further consideration, the court may order an evidentiary hearing on the questions we’ve presented. We will go back into court to present evidence, call witnesses, or do whatever is necessary to show the court that you are entitled to relief.

 

What if my petition is denied? Can I appeal the denial?

Yes. If the federal district court denies our § 2254 petition, we can appeal that denial to the appropriate federal circuit court of appeals.

 

§ 2255 PETITIONS

 

What is a § 2255 petition?

A § 2255 petition is a petition filed in federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. In this petition, we ask a federal court to review your conviction and consider claims that could not have been raised at trial or in your direct appeal to the federal circuit court of appeals.

 

What can we raise in § 2255 petition?

In a § 2255 petition, we will argue to the federal court that your conviction violated the rights guaranteed to you by the United States Constitution or by federal law. The most common issue raised in a § 2255 petition involves claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. If your trial counsel did a terrible job representing you at trial, we would file a § 2255 petition and would explain to the court how your trial attorney did a terrible job and why this should entitle you to relief.

 

Also, if there’s newly-discovered evidence in your case, or if there has been a change in the law in your favor, we can file a § 2255 petition and explain to the court how this evidence shows that your conviction should be thrown out.

 

When do we have to file a § 2255 petition?

We generally have one year from the date your conviction becomes final to file a § 2255 petition. If we discovered new evidence in your case or if the law suddenly changed in your favor, we would have one year from those dates in which we could file a § 2255 petition.

 

What happens after we file a petition?

After we file our § 2255 petition, the government will have a chance to respond to the petition. If the court thinks we have presented an issue that needs further consideration, the court may order an evidentiary hearing on the questions we’ve presented. We will go back into court to present evidence, call witnesses, or do whatever is necessary to show the court that you are entitled to relief.

What if my petition is denied? Can I appeal the denial?

Yes. If the federal district court denies our § 2255 petition, we can appeal that denial to the appropriate federal circuit court of appeals.

DISCLAIMER

These recoveries and testimonials are not an indication of future results. Every case is different, and regardless of what friends, family, or other individuals may say about what a case is worth, each case must be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances as they apply to the law. The valuation of a case depends on the facts, the injuries, the jurisdiction, the venue, the witnesses, the parties, and the testimony, among  other factors. Furthermore, no representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

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As required by Rule 7.2(e), Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, no representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

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