FAQ: Appeals

Do I have a right to appeal my criminal conviction?

  • Yes.  You have an absolute right to appeal your conviction.  To invoke that right you must simply file a notice of appeal within certain time limitations.

How long do I have to appeal?

  • In Arkansas state courts you have 30 days to file a notice of appeal with the circuit clerk.  In federal criminal cases you have 14 days to file a notice of appeal with the district court clerk.
  • Your trial counsel will file a notice of appeal if you request to do so or you can hire an attorney for the appeal and have them file the notice of appeal.
  • Failure to meet these deadlines can be fatal to your appeal.

What costs are associated with the appeal?

  • The primary costs associated with the appeal are the attorney fees and cost of the transcript.  Attorney fees will depend upon the complexity of the issues and length of trial or hearing.  The cost of the transcript will also depend on the length of the trial or hearing.
  • If you have been found indigent at the trial court level then the State will pay for your transcript and possibly your attorney fees.  Contact us immediately to assist in minimizing your fees.

What are the risks involved in appealing?

  • The risks depend on what happened at trial and what issues are being appealed.  If you are appealing the sufficiency of the evidence then there is absolutely no risk and an appellate decision in your favor will result in a dismissal of the conviction.  However, some appeals can result in a new trial.  If you believe you might do worse at a new trial then you should let that be known to your appellate attorney to discuss the risks and rewards of an appeal.

Is an appeal the only avenue to reverse a judgment?

  • No.  The most common challenge to a conviction after the direct appeal is a Rule 37 Petition for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel.  A Rule 37 Petition claims that the trial attorney made errors in your case and that is why you were convicted.  Typical errors are:  failure to investigate, failure to file motions to suppress evidence, and failure to preserve objections at trial.  A Rule 37 Petition must be filed within 90 days of the conviction or if you appealed, within 60 days of the mandate from the appeal.
  • Also, a federal habeas corpus petition can be filed in certain cases.  An experienced criminal appellate attorney can advise you when it would be prudent to file a federal habeas corpus petition.

How to choose a post-conviction attorney?

  • Too often defendant’s simply chose to let their trial attorney handle the direct appeal.  Appeals and matters of post-conviction relief are an area that requires expertise and experience.  Not all trial attorneys are experienced or proficient at researching and writing.
  • You should find out what percentage of the attorney’s practice is devoted to post-conviction matters.  Obviously, the more time the attorney deals with post-conviction matters the better.  Also, you should ask if  the attorney has been victorious on appeal at least once in the previous year.  Success varies based on a plethora of factors but not winning at all is a bad sign.  Finally, you should chose an attorney that you feel comfortable will work hard to make your appeal successful.  The odds are against you and no attorney should tell you otherwise, but choosing the right attorney greatly increases your odds of being successful.

Do you offer free consultations?

  • Yes.  Post-conviction matters are extremely complicated even for the most experienced attorneys.  Let us explain the process to you and advise you on the possibility of a beneficial outcome.  We understand that it is usually concerned family members that will be looking for an attorney for their loved one.  We will consult with you and visit your loved one in jail/prison to make sure all involved feel comfortable with us.  Call (501) 375-0900 immediately.

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