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Criminal appeals in the district court

Posted by attorney Antony Noble

If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor in the county court, you should consider filing an appeal in the district court to reverse or vacate the conviction and/or the sentence. Criminal appeals from the county court to the district court are governed by Crim. P. 37.

Consultation about an appeal.

If you have been found guilty after a trial, the first thing you should do is consult with your trial attorney about the advantages and disadvantages of filing an appeal. You should talk about any errors that occurred during your trial and whether your conviction could be reversed or vacated on appeal because of those errors.

You should then schedule a free consultation with an appellate attorney to discuss the cost of an appeal, the issues that could be raised on appeal, and how long it will take the district court to issue a decision in the appeal. This consultation with the appellate attorney should occur prior to sentencing so that you will be ready to file the appeal once the sentence has been imposed.

Stay of Execution of Sentence.

If you intend to appeal your conviciton, you should ask your trial attorney to request a stay of execution of your sentence during the pendency of your appeal. This request should be made to the county court at your sentencing hearing. Under Crim. P. 37(f), the county court is required to stay execution of the sentence during your appeal if you request it. If the court has imposed a sentence to jail, you may be required to post bail while your sentenced is stayed.

The Notice of Appeal and Designation of Record.

The appeal to the district court is initiated by the filing of a notice of appeal and designation of record, which identifies the conviction being appealed, the issues that will be raised on appeal, and the parts of the record that are required for the appeal. The notice of appeal and designation of record must be filed within thirty-five days of the entry of the judgment of conviction, which is the date that you were sentenced.

The Record on Appeal.

The record on appeal consists of the county court file and the transcripts of the trial and other hearings held in the county court. Proceedings in the county court are recorded, and you have to pay a court reporter to prepare transcripts from the recordings. The record on appeal must be filed within forty-two days of the entry of judgment, but the district court will grant additional time to file the record if the court reporters are not able to complete the transcripts within forty-two days.

The Briefing Schedule.

The issues on appeal are presented in briefs filed in the district court. Once the record on appeal has been certified, your appellate attorney must file an opening brief within twenty-one days. The opening brief will argue that errors were made during the county proceedings and that your conviciton and/or sentence should be reversed or vacated because of these errors. The district attorney may file an answer brief within twenty-one days that responds to the arguments raised in the opening brief. Your appellate attorney may then file a reply brief within fourteen days of the answer brief. Upon request, the district court may extend the time for filing these briefs.

The District Court's Opinion.

Once the briefs have been filed, the court will review them and the record on appeal and decide whether any errors were made by the county court, and, if so, whether your conviction and/or sentence should be reversed or vacated because of these errors.

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