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How Long Does a Criminal Appeal Take?

criminal appeal attorney in Louisville

If you have been convicted for a criminal offense in Kentucky, that does not have to be the end of the story. Every individual has the right to at least one appeal in a criminal case, and with the right grounds and the help of a skilled attorney, you may be able to obtain a more favorable outcome at the appellate level.

How Does an Appeal Work?

If you decide you want to appeal a criminal conviction, the Commonwealth of Kentucky typically requires that you file a Notice of Appeal (along with all of the other required documents) within 30 days of sentencing. If you do not file within the allotted timeframe, your right to an appeal may be forfeited.

It is important to understand that an appeal is not the same as a new trial. The main purpose of an appeal is to review the decisions made by the trial court (or lower appellate court) to ensure that no substantial legal errors were made (i.e., errors that could have changed the outcome of the case).

One of the best ways to understand the appeals process is to compare it to a basketball game or another sporting event. You are not asking the appellate court to “play the game again.”  Rather, you are asking them to review the game to find out if the referee (judge) made any “bad calls.” Some incorrect calls have no bearing on the outcome of a game, but at others could be significant enough to produce a different result.  

With this in mind, the primary job of your lawyer during an appeal is to convince the higher court that legal errors were made at trial, and that these errors prevented you from getting a fair trial. If this can be shown, some or all of your charges may be dismissed, or you may be able to receive a reduced sentence or a new trial.

How Long does an Appeal Take?

There is no straightforward answer to this question that applies to all cases. Some appeals can be finished in a matter of days (such as an emergency appeal for someone who is facing the death penalty), while others can go on for years. The timing is largely dependent on several specific factors in the case, among the most important being which court you are appealing to and how much of a backlog exists within that court.

Appellate law is highly technical and complex, and there are numerous steps involved with an appeal, all of which can take some time. First of all, your lawyer has 60 days from the time the appeal is filed to prepare a brief along with arguments stating why your conviction should be overturned. Once the defendant’s brief is filed, the Commonwealth has 60 days to respond to it.  Either side may also ask for an extension if they need additional time to file their briefs.

After the appellate court reviews the written arguments from both sides, they may schedule oral arguments. During oral arguments, both sides have 15 minutes to present their cases to the court. It is important to note that appellate courts do not schedule oral arguments in all cases.

Once written and oral arguments have been presented, several months may go by before the appellate court renders its decision. If you are not satisfied with this decision, it may be possible to file another appeal to a higher court.

So, how long does a criminal appeal take in Kentucky? In a typical scenario such as the one described above, you can expect the appellate process to take at least nine months and up to a year. But again, all cases are different, and all circumstances are unique. So, the timeframe in your case may be shorter or longer than the norm.

Convicted for a Criminal Offense in Kentucky? Contact Attorney Ron Aslam to Discuss Your Case

The criminal appeals process varies significantly from the original trial, and there are a lot of steps to an appeal as well as numerous variables that can affect the timing and success of the action. The first step is to make sure you are working with a seasoned criminal defense attorney who has a proven track record of success not only representing criminal defendants at trial, but also upon appeal.

Attorney Ron Aslam is a former prosecutor who has extensive experience working on both sides of the fence. Ron knows the inner workings of both the federal and state court system in Kentucky, and he has helped numerous defendants successfully appeal their cases to obtain a more favorable result.

To schedule an initial consultation with Attorney Ron Aslam, call us today at 502-581-1676. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Louisville office in person at your convenience.