How Many Times Can You Appeal a Criminal Conviction in Utah?

A criminal conviction can lead to severe repercussions in a person’s life, such as jail, prison, and fines. However, convicted felons may have the chance to fight off their sentence. A final decision made by the trial court can be reviewed by the superior court, known as the Court of Appeals. If you or a loved one has been charged with a felony in Utah, you need immediate legal representation. Salt Lake City criminal appeals lawyer Darwin Overson explains more about the appeals process in Utah and explains how many times you can appeal the same charges.

How the Appeals Process Works

The trial judge’s ruling is not necessarily the “final say” in your criminal case. Defendants may still have a second chance to fight the decision made by the trial court. The right to appeal is not explicitly cited in the U.S. Constitution, but it has been held numerous times that defendants have the right to appeal their cases.

The appeals process is a post-conviction remedy available to convicted felons. The purpose behind an appeal is to correct any errors in the interpretation of the law or any procedural errors. Though an appeal may provide the chance for a second review of your case by a higher court – The Court of Appeals – It does not mean you are getting a new trial.

If a defendant has substantial grounds to appeal the conviction, they must file a “notice of appeal” through their criminal defense lawyer within 30 days of the first court’s sentencing order. If the petitioner, or “appellant,” does not file their notice within 30 days, they cannot appeal their case. Keep in mind; the appeals court will only grant the appeal if you have substantial legal or procedural reasons to appeal your sentence. For instance, you cannot file a notice of appeal based simply on the fact that you lost your case.

During the appeals process, the court will revise written documents presented by both parties (appellant and appellees) and will likely grant a hearing to listen to arguments. Once the judge has a better understanding of the case, a panel of judges will discuss the situation, and one will write a final determination. Depending on their analysis and subsequent conclusion, the Court of Appeals may affirm the decision of the trial court or “remand” the case back to the trial court for a retrial or additional information gathering.

The Appeals Process in Utah

In Utah, whether you get the chance to get a “de novo” trial or a formal appeal will depend on your case and the court seeing it. Utah has “justice courts” and “district courts.” Justice courts are typically in charge of most misdemeanors, infractions, and other lesser crimes. The district court is Utah’s court of general jurisdiction, meaning they can hear all civil cases and criminal felony cases, such as murder and domestic violence.

Different from a district court, justice courts are not “courts of record,” which means the proceedings are not recorded. Instead, the process is based on file notes and the judge’s analysis. Therefore, appealing a decision from a justice court grants the appellant the chance of a “de novo” trial – a new trial. This is the process for most small-time crimes, which can be tried again at the district court and then appealed again if there are problems with that trial.

However, appealing the decision from a district court is stricter and stiffer. The process requires filing a timely notice of appeal – as mentioned above – as well as other essential documentation. The appellant must file all required documents and identify any potential errors of law.

How Many Times Can You Appeal Your Criminal Conviction?

Typically, you have one turn at-bat during your appeals process. Building a strong case means using any evidence you can and presenting a strong case the first time through. If the trial court commits errors, you get one chance to file a direct appeal to the Court of Appeals.

If you are unhappy with the decision at the Court of Appeals, you can appeal the case again to the Utah Supreme Court. However, the supreme court can reject appeals if it thinks there is no question about the case.

If you are still unhappy with the state supreme court’s decision, you can appeal your case to the US Supreme Court. Many ground-breaking cases are appealed to this level.

At any point, the court may “remand” the case back to trial for a retrial or additional information gathering. If there is a problem with this trial, you can appeal you case again and run back through the appeals process.

Aside from the “direct appeals” process, you can also file “collateral appeals.” If you lost your case and your appeal did not change the outcome, there may still be errors or rights violations in your case. Filing a “habeus corpus” petition or a petition for post-conviction relief can help you get these issues resolved. You can file as many of these petitions as you want as long as you follow the procedural rules, but you should consult with an attorney to ensure your petition has a fighting chance.

Criminal Appeals Lawyer Serving Salt Lake City, Utah

If you or your loved was convicted of a crime in Salt Lake City or anywhere else in Utah, there is no time to waste. Having skilled legal representation on your side can make the difference between spending months or years in prison or getting a new trial. If you wish to learn more about your criminal case in a free, confidential consultation, call Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson Law today at (801) 758-2287.