FAQs About Criminal Appeals in Texas
Being convicted of a crime is an overwhelming and devastating experience. If you’ve been convicted of a serious criminal offense, you may be wondering if you can appeal your conviction.
It’s normal to have a lot of questions about how appeals work and what comes next. Most people feel overwhelmed by a criminal conviction. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in Dallas can help explain your options.
Here are some frequently asked questions about criminal appeals cases under Texas law.
I Disagree with the Outcome of My Trial. Can I File an Appeal?
You won’t be able to file a successful appeal just because you don’t like the way your trial turned out. Being unhappy with the outcome of your prosecution by itself isn’t a legitimate reason to file an appeal.
To be successful in getting the appeals court to hear your case, you need to be able to show evidence that the trial court made a mistake in your case, or that the prosecutor had some kind of prejudice.
Can I Appeal Even If I Accepted a Plea Agreement?
In most cases, waiving your right to an appeal is a condition of accepting a plea agreement, also known as a plea bargain.
However, you might still be able to file an appeal if you reserved the right to appeal, or if your appeal turns on the question of whether the lower court had proper jurisdiction to handle your case.
How Long Do I Have to File an Appeal?
Under Texas law, you must file a notice of appeal no later than 30 days after your sentence. If you miss this deadline, you may be barred from filing an appeal.
This timeframe is why it’s very important to work with an experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyer. If you’re unhappy with your trial lawyer, you can change lawyers at any time during the course of your case, including after your trial case has concluded.
How Long Will My Appeal Take?
There is no general answer that applies to all cases with respect to how long you can expect your appeal to take. Each case is different. Because appeals cases tend to be complicated, you should expect your case to take at least several months and quite likely longer than a few months.
The total length of time required for your case will depend on the nature of the charges you faced at the trial level, what kind of issues you’re raising on appeal, and how busy the court’s schedule is at the time you file your appeal.
What Happens if I Lose My Appeal Case?
Once the appellate court has made its decision, you may be eligible to ask the court for a rehearing. However, this can be overruled. If that occurs, your next option is to file a petition for review with the Court of Criminal Appeals.
If you lose at the Court of Criminal Appeals, the next step is to file a petition with the United States Supreme Court. This is known as a writ of certiorari.
Keep in mind, however, that the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear a limited number of cases per year, and it typically restricts its docket to cases that involve unsettled areas of law, conflicting opinions from various federal courts, or issues with wide-ranging implications for constitutional rights.
It’s typically quite difficult to convince the Supreme Court to take on a case. An experienced Texas criminal appeal lawyer can help explain the options available to you in your case.
What Kind of Judges Will Hear My Case?
In the Texas criminal justice system, there are 14 appeals courts. Each of these courts has a panel of judges with at least three judges presiding over every appellate case. In some instances, more than three judges will oversee an appeals case.
Do I Have to Stay in Prison While My Appeal Is Pending?
In some cases, an appellant may be permitted to remain out of prison while their appeal is pending. However, this isn’t always the case.
Whether the court agrees to release you on bond while your appeal is pending depends on the seriousness of the crimes involved in your conviction.
As you might expect, the more serious the crime, the less likely the court is to permit you to remain free on bond pending your appeal.
What Happens If I Win My Appeal?
Just because you win your appellate case doesn’t mean your conviction is automatically erased. For example, if the appeals court determines that a specific piece of evidence in your case was inadmissible, it might order the lower court to conduct a new trial without including that piece of evidence.
If the prosecution believes that it doesn’t have enough remaining evidence to obtain a conviction, it may decide to drop its case against you. In that situation, you would no longer face prosecution, and any previous conviction would be thrown out.