No one should represent themselves on appeal. You should either seek to employ experienced local counsel to handle the appeal or contact the appellate court (or Public Defender's Office) to seek appointment of counsel on appeal. Probably 90% of cases are upheld on appeal, and that's with an experienced attorney. Without an attorney, the odds are far, far worse.
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Mr. Cota is correct. I would suggest searching for a certified specialist in appellate law on the California State Bar web site and schedule an appointment to discuss the appeal.
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Because you say defendant is facing 4-8 years, I am wondering if there is a sentencing to occur in the future. Defendant must file a notice of appeal within 60 days of the judgement /sentencing. When I file for cliens, I always serve a copy on the DA and file a proof of service of the Notice. The Notice is filed in the clerk's office of the same court where the trial occurred.
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Unlike my colleagues who have already answered, I am not from California and I defer to them as to the law and practice in that state. In general, however, llitigating a case on appeal is not a matter of filling out and submitting forms. The legal work is subtle and difficult and requires that you be able to function more or less at the level of a law professor. This is definitely not a do-it-yourself project. At least one other answer points out the California certifies some lawyers as appellate specialists. Consulting such a certified specialist who practices in the area of criminal appeals would be your best move.
If you're in LA County and you had a PD on appeal, and you were sentenced to prison on the case, you are under many circumstances entitled to an appointed (i.e. free to you) attorney on appeal. Contact your PD and also contact the Appellate Project for your district to find out if anyone an appeal has been filed.
That said, I agree with all the other attorneys, an appeal is tough to win even for an appellate specialist. You should have an attorney do this for you. But if you want some information on the appellate process in CA, the CA courts website has a lot of information here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/1069.htm
Click on "After the Trial - The Appeal Process"