This guide gives straightforward information to anyone who has been convicted of a Felony in a California Court. It does not address appeals after a guilty plea.
What Can Be Appealed?
The appeal in a criminal case can be from the verdict(s) or the sentence, or both. The "judgment" is technically the sentence, however a Notice of Appeal allows you to appeal both the findings of guilt (including any "true" findings on enhancements), and the sentence.
When Can the Appeal be Filed?
The appeal is initiated by a Notice of Appeal. This is a form available on the website of the Superior Court, and it can be filled in on line. The time to appeal is within 60 days following sentencing. An appeal cannot be filed until sentencing, even if the defendant only wants to appeal the verdict(s). So, within 60 days of sentencing. No fee is required for the Notice of Appeal, and it can be printed and hand delivered to the Clerk of the Superior Court. A copy should be mailed to the District Attorney, but if it is not, that will not affect the Notice or the appeal.
What if my court appointed attorney fails to file the Notice of Appeal for me?
Even if you are in custody, you, or anyone else can file the Notice of Appeal on your behalf. In California, if the attorney is responsible to file the Notice of Appeal (as he or she usually is under Penal Code Section 1240.1, subdivisions (b) and (d), but if the Notice is not filed timely, there is a chance of getting the Court of Appeal to still allow a late notice of appeal. (This is not true in civil cases, however, only criminal cases).
What happens after I file the Notice of Appeal?
If you are able to retain counsel he or she should take care of filing the Notice of Appeal and everything else in the appeal. If not, you will be given an opportunity to prepare and file an affidavit of indigence, and request the appointment of counsel to represent you on appeal for free. Every person convicted of a felony in California Superior Court is entitled to an appeal and if indigent to a free appellate attorney. The Superior Court Clerk's office will prepare and send a copy of the Clerk's records (e.g., the complaint, indictment and/or information, the pleadings, the rulings of the trial court, the jury instructions and verdicts) along with the Reporter's Transcripts of the trial, to the Clerk of the Court of Appeal. Once they have been filed there, the Court of Appeal will notify you, or your attorney of the schedule for briefing the appeal. You get 40 days, plus any extensions that are granted. The state is represented in the appeal by the Office of the Attorney General. They get 30 days (plus any extensions that are granted) after you file your brief to file a Respondent's Brief, and you get 15 days to file a reply to that. The case is then ready for oral argument, and the Clerk will notify you or your attorney of the date for oral argument. Three judges hear the argument and afterwards a written opinion is filed and sent to the attorneys for the parties, addressing each issue raised on the appeal.
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