Cleary Law LLC

What Is An Appeal?


An appeal is a legal procedure in which a higher court reviews a lower court’s decision for legal errors. Generally, the higher court (usually the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court) looks for mistakes that the judge made after the error was brought to his attention. This could be something like whether a search and seizure was valid, whether a statute was interpreted correctly, or whether evidence should have been excluded or admitted. The higher court will not reevaluate a jury’s decision to find guilt as long as sufficient evidence was properly admitted.

With appeals, the higher court does not receive new evidence and only the record from the lower court may be considered. Most decisions are made based on written briefs and, possibly, oral arguments. In oral arguments, the attorneys cannot argue any material that is not raised in the written brief.

What Are The Most Common Reasons Appeals Are Filed?

Generally, most convictions in General Sessions court occur after a trial is appealed. Guilty pleas may technically be appealed, but there are usually not appealable issues when a person pleads guilty. Extraordinary circumstances must be shown for a guilty plea appeal to go forward.

What Types Of Criminal Convictions Do You Handle In Appeals Cases?

I handle appeals from criminal convictions in South Carolina courts. Having worked at the SC Division of Appellate Defense, I have handled hundreds of appeals, from convictions for minor drug offenses to murder.

What Qualifies A Conviction For An Appeal?

An appeal from a criminal conviction is a matter or right. Any conviction may be appealed. As noted above, an appeal from a guilty plea is usually not successful. Those convictions may be challenged, however, by submitting an application for post-conviction relief, wherein the defendant challenges his conviction based on ineffectiveness of his lawyer, or pleading guilty based on incorrect information.

Are There Any Convictions That Can’t Ever Be Appealed? 

No, there are not any conviction that can’t ever be appealed.

What Makes Up A Good Case For An Appeal Vs. One That Probably Won’t Be Eligible? 

Convictions that result from trials where the trial lawyer raised numerous legal issues and argued them properly make the best appellate cases. It is hard to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse if the trial lawyer did not do his job at trial.

Can You Appeal A Case Where You Have Pled Guilty?

Technically yes, but it is a waste of time because during a guilty plea, the lawyer does not raise legal issues for the judge to rule upon. During a plea, the defendant must waive his constitutional rights and generally he waives his right to raise any legal arguments that he may have had.

How Long Does An Appeal Take?

Most appeals take two or more years.

For more information on Appeals Process In South Carolina, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (803) 310-5796 today.

Related Articles