Although losing a criminal case can be devastating, an Alabama criminal appeal may mean that it is not the end of the story. Trial courts, juries, prosecutors, and lawyers are not perfect, and they do make mistakes. Where the mistakes in your criminal trial result in an unfair trial proceeding, a decision that is not supported by sufficient evidence or the violation of your constitutional rights, an Alabama criminal appeal can bring relief.
All Alabama criminal appeals are hear by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in Montgomery, Alabama. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals is a five Judge Appellate Court which is the first line of appellate review in Alabama. In order to appeal your criminal conviction you must notify the trial court either orally or by filing a written notice of appeal within 42 days of your conviction and or sentencing.
Once a notice of appeal was given the court reporter who recorded the testimony and evidence at trial will prepare an official transcript of the trial of your case. If you are indigent and cannot pay for the transcript, the appellate lawyer may request that the trial court order that you receive free copy of the transcript. Additionally, once the notice of appeal was filed the clerk of the trial court will gather all of the pleadings and other documents, exhibits, evidence and the official transcript, and put them together in what is known as the record on appeal.
Once the record on appeal is compiled and filed with the appellate court in Montgomery your Alabama criminal appeal may proceed. An Alabama appellate lawyer representing you in your appeal will read the transcript and the record on appeal, will determine what issues are viable to argue to the appellate court, and will prepare appellate briefs to follow on your behalf in the appellate court.
The drafting of an appellate brief is a complicated process. Appellate lawyers are particularly suited to representing clients on appeal, and are adept at both legal research and legal writing so as to present the facts in your legal arguments to the appellate court in the most effective and best manner. Considerable legal research is undertaken by the appellate lawyer to determine whether what happened in your case is contrary to the rules of law set out by the appellate courts in prior appellate decisions regarding similar situations and facts. Your appellate lawyer draft arguments designed to show the Court of Appeals that the facts of your case should’ve been decided differently based on a reading of the court’s prior decisions.
As noted elsewhere on this website, it is often advisable to seek the assistance of a new attorney for the appeal, and particularly to seek out an attorney with experience handling criminal appeals. Many trial lawyers do not handle appeals, and will often refer you to an appellate lawyer to carry on your case. One of the major differences between handling a case at trial and handling an appeal is the fact that most times neither you nor your lawyer will present live testimony or live argument to the Court of Appeals. More often than not your case is presented to the Court of Appeals strictly on paper in the form of the appellate briefs. For this reason it is crucial to have the assistance of an experienced appellate lawyer who can draft your briefs in such a way as to make them compelling, thorough, convincing, and effective.
William K. ” Chip” Bradford is an Alabama appellate lawyer with over 20 years of experience handling criminal and civil appeals in the State and Federal Appellate Courts in Alabama. He is a member of the Birmingham, Alabama law firm of Bradford Ladner, LLP, and has represented countless clients in presenting their arguments in both written appellate briefs and in oral argument before the appellate courts.
If you need assistance handling in the Alabama criminal appeal please contact Bradford Ladner LLP today.
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