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Appellate Attorney -

       For criminal cases, an appellate attorney can handle various extraordinary proceedings before and even during the trial. While a defendant might have a particular criminal defense attorney to handle the trial and general pretrial proceedings, sometimes it is necessary to obtain specialized services that are best suited for an appellate attorney.

Seeking a Writ in Court

       One frequent example of this might be for the need to seek a writ in the appellate court because the trial court has made a particular ruling that you believe will have a significant negative impact on the trial. There are various writs that a person might try to obtain such as a writ of habeas corpus, writ of certiorari, writ of supersedeas and writ of coram nobis. Each of these writs is designed for a fairly narrow purpose and an appellate attorney is the person usually most suited to know which type of writ to seek and when to seek it. The writs can be used to review an adverse ruling by the trial court that refused to suppress certain evidence or to review a denial of a motion to sever two or more defendants or other adverse rulings either before or even during a trial.

Hiring an Appellate Attorney

       It is usually best to obtain the assistance of an appellate attorney as appeals are a specialized area of criminal law. It is imperative to hire an appellate attorney very early, even before your case goes to trial. A good criminal appellate attorney can persuade an audience of judges almost exclusively on written arguments that emphasize a detailed analysis of the trial testimony and the applicable law to the case. Also, many trial attorneys focus their time and attention on the trial and are not suited for handling these specialized issues.

Notice of Appeal

       Separate from these various pretrial proceedings involving appellate attorneys, at the conclusion of a case, it is also extremely important to obtain the services of an appellate attorney. As a general rule, a criminal defendant will be entitled to a court-appointed appellate attorney if they cannot afford a private attorney. After a conviction that followed a guilty plea, a no lo contedere (no contest) plea or a trial (court or jury), a Notice of Appeal should generally be filed. Depending on whether it is a misdemeanor or felony, there are certain time limits on when the Notice must be filed. The Notice of Appeal has a box to check if the defendant wants to have the Appellate Court appoint a lawyer to represent the defendant. For felony convictions the form is CR-120; for misdemeanor convictions, the form is CR-132. More copies of the Notice of Appeal forms can be found at the California Court's web site: Judicial Council and the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Certificate of Probable Cause

       Even if you have entered a plea of guilty, you still have the right to have an appellate review of the proceedings. However, you might need to obtain a Certificate of Probable Cause for some reviews. Thus, it is extremely important to talk to an appellate attorney to make sure your rights are fully protected.

- Written by , Attorney at Law





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