Direct Appeal

If you have been convicted of a crime following a bench trial or a jury trial, then a direct appeal is your primary avenue for reviewing the case to attempt to overturn the conviction. The path that your appeal will take depends on which court your conviction comes from.

Appeals from a Lower Court

If you were convicted in a justice court or a municipal court, then your appeal will be reviewed by a single judge in the Superior Court. The review’s procedure is controlled by the Superior Court Rules of Appellate Procedure – Criminal.

If you wish to appeal a conviction from a lower court, you must file a notice of appeal with the trial court within 14 calendar days of the sentence.

Appeals from the Superior Court

If you were convicted in the Superior Court, then your appeal will be reviewed by a three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals. The Arizona Court of Appeals is split into two divisions: Division 1 is based in Phoenix and handles appeals from Apache, Coconino, La Paz, Navajo, Maricopa, Mohave, Yavapai, and Yuma counties; Division 2 is based in Tucson and handles appeals from Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee,  Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz counties. From time to time one division will transfer a case to another division to help resolve backlogs in their dockets.

If you wish to appeal a conviction from the Superior court, you must file a notice of appeal no later than 20 days after judgment is pronounced. You should contact a Phoenix criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help you work through the appropriate deadlines.

What Can Be Appealed?

It is important to remember that any issue not raised during the underlying proceedings is deemed waived for purposes of appeals, unless the issue constitutes fundamental or structural error. Often, appeals are described as being limited to the four corners of the documents in the record. Anything not in the record cannot typically be raised in a direct appeal.

Appeals may only be initiated after an appealable order has been entered, and these can include:

  • A sentence after a trial
  • Revocation of probation
  • Restitution order

There are some circumstances in which the State can pursue a direct appeal, but the State may never appeal an acquittal at trial.

What Does an Appeal Require?

Successful direct appeals require careful review of the record, which is constituted of transcripts of court proceedings, documents filed in the case, and anything put “on the record.” Sometimes an appeal requires construction of the record if the record is incomplete or damaged for some reason. Direct appeal requires in-depth legal research to flush out potential legal issues. Finally, a direct appeal requires knowledge and experience in criminal defense, as without that baseline of knowledge an attorney would not even know where to begin to look.

Contact AZ Defenders Today

If you are considering a direct appeal in your case or in the case of a loved one, you need a steady, experienced hand to guide your through the process. The attorneys at AZ Defenders have decades of experience in criminal defense and direct appeals and can assist you in figuring out what issues may exist in your case. AZ Defenders offers free consultations for direct appeals, so call today at 480-456-6400 or contact us online. The faster you get in touch with us the faster we can assist you in your appellate claims.

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