Written by attorney Brian Douglas Sloan

Arizona DUI Defense Attorney Guide to a DUI Arrest - Step 20 - Appeal


An Appeal is a process in which you object to something that happened at the trial court level. It could me that a motion your Defense Attorney argued was denied, and you think it should have been granted, or that something inappropriate happened at trial.

An Appeal must be based on a legal argument. An Appeal will not be successful because “the jury got it wrong."

Appeals are treated differently in the City / Municipal Courts than in the Superior Court.

In the City / Municipal Courts, the filing of an Appeal, or Notice of Appeal, will very likely “stay" the punishment. That means that even though you were convicted, the punishment associated with the conviction will not take effect until the Appeal is decided. If the Appeal is denied, then you will be called back into court for sentencing.

In the Superior Courts, the judge will very likely take you into custody immediately upon a Guilty verdict. Whether you Appeal or not, the judge will very likely have you serve your sentence immediately. Regardless of what happens on appeal, it is very likely that you will have served most, if not all, of your jail/prison time before a decision is made on Appeal. In Superior Courts, the judge will very likely not “stay" the punishment until the Appeal takes place.

Unfortunately, in Superior Court, an Appeal tends to take a few years before a decision is made. This often results in people serving out their entire sentences, and potentially paying off all their fines and fees before they find out whether they were successful on their Appeal.

After an Appeal, if the defendant loses their argument, they are given the opportunity to Appeal to a higher court.

Generally speaking, it is very rare for a defendant to win an Appeal. It is even rarer for a defendant to lose at trial, lose on Appeal, then win on an appeal to the higher court (Arizona Supreme Court).

You can always choose not to Appeal, but there is usually no reason not to Appeal. In most cases, someone has nothing to lose in Appealing.

In some very rare cases, however, a person Appeals their case, wins, then gets a new trial, or a new sentencing, and ends up worse off than the sentence they received before.

Judges don’t tend to appreciate being overruled by higher courts, and may decide to – legally – punish you with a harsher sentence because of some “change in circumstances."

If you can afford it, it is highly recommended that you contact a Private Appellate Attorney to represent you on an appeal. While an “Indigent Representation" appellate lawyer will represent you on an Appeal, there is a disproportionate amount of “Anders Briefs" filed by “Indigent Representation" appellate lawyer. An “Anders Brief" is an appeal, filed by an appellate lawyer, that basically tells the court, ‘On behalf of the defendant, I don’t see any reason for you to overturn the Guilty verdict, but feel free to review the case yourself."

Not surprisingly, these “Ander’s Briefs" tend to result in the Court of Appeals upholding the Guilty verdict.

If you do want to hire a Private Appellate Attorney, be sure and hire one that has experience in Appeals, and one that will not file an “Anders Brief" on your behalf.

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