12930 Ventura Boulevard, PMB 903 Studio City, California 91604   310.428.6191
Criminal Appeals and Post Conviction Services


Q. What is an appeal?


A. In simple terms, an appeal is a look back at the trial you or your loved one just had to see if any legal errors or mistakes were made that warrant getting your conviction reversed. Generally speaking, an appeal is less about the “facts” of your case and more about the “law.”  That is not to say that the facts of your case don’t matter in an appeal.  But an appeal often concerns technical legal mistakes that were made during the trial.  Some examples of issues that are commonly raised on appeal include:


           The exclusion of evidence that would have helped your case

           Allowing in evidence against you that should have been kept away from the jury because it was too prejudicial.

           The application of the wrong law to your situation.

           Incorrect jury instructions

           Misconduct by the prosecutor.

           Errors in the sentence

Q. How does an appeal work?


A. Unlike a trial, where everything happens live, an appeal is litigated primarily “on paper.”  That is, when we make our arguments as to why your conviction and/or sentence should be reversed, we do so in writing in what are called “briefs” that we submit to the Court of Appeal.  Even the Court itself does not issue its decision in the appeal verbally.  Rather, like everything else in the appeal, it issues a written decision.


The appeals process starts by filing the “notice of appeal.”  This notice signifies to the trial court to prepare the transcripts from the trial and to assemble all of the documents that were filed during trial.  These transcripts and documents comprise the “record on appeal.” Once the record on appeal is complete and filed with the Court of Appeal, we will then file our “opening brief,” which again is our arguments for why your conviction should be reversed.


After all of the briefs are filed, the Court of Appeal has several choices in deciding your appeal. It can “affirm” your conviction, which means it remains unchanged. It can “modify” your conviction and/or sentence so that it remains but with some change in it.  Or it can “reverse” your conviction in part or entirely. 


If we are not successful in getting your conviction reversed, we may then have the option of petitioning the California Supreme Court – the highest court in California – for “review” of your case.


This process is similar in the federal courts as well.

Q. What is the difference between a direct appeal and a writ of habeas corpus?

A. In a direct appeal, the Courts of Appeal can consider only evidence which was presented at trial and thus part of the appellate “record.” A writ of habeas corpus, on the other hand, allows the courts to consider additional evidence that was not presented at the trial. So, for instance, if the trial attorney failed to call a critical witness that might have helped the your case or if new, and possibly helpful, evidence comes to light that was not known at the time of your trial, a habeas corpus petition is the proper vehicle for bringing such issues to the court’s attention.


Q. Why hire a criminal appellate attorney? 


A. Because it’s a specialized area of law.


Criminal appellate and post-conviction law is very technical.  Many believe it’s actually designed to keep people in prison and to prevent them from getting their convictions overturned on appeal.  If the attorney is not intimately familiar with this law and procedure, it could seriously jeopardize the defendant’s chances of obtaining relief on appeal.  That is why it is critical that you hire an attorney whose practice is devoted exclusively to appeals and has an intimate knowledge of post-conviction law.

12930 Ventura Boulevard, PMB 903 Studio City, California 91604   310.428.6191
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