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How Can I Appeal a Conviction or Sentence in New Jersey

Can you appeal your criminal conviction? Can you appeal your sentence? How do you appeal?

The answer to that question depends on many things: What do you want to appeal? What court you are in? How long ago did the conviction or sentence take place?

The procedure to challenge conviction or sentence in some circumstances is not through an appeal, but through another type of petition to the court. Those non-appeal challenges include Post Conviction Relief or PCR, Motion for a New Trial, and Habeas Corpus (in Federal Court).

  • Which Court Were You In? The procedure, including importantly, the time limitations, are different for different courts. Municipal Court appeals are not the same as Superior Court appeals.

  • Challenges That Are Not Appeals: Some challenges to what happened in a trial court do not go to an appeal but to a post trial motion in the trial court.

  • The Jury Simply Made Wrong Decision. If you want to challenge the conclusion of the jury, not a decision by the judge, or what the police or the prosecutor or your own attorney did, I have provided information for your convenience.

  • Did you plead guilty? After you have admitted pleaded guilty, there are some things that you can still challenge. See our section on what you can challenge and how.

  • New Evidence Was Discovered. Did you discover new evidence that would have changed the outcome of the trial? You can explore this topic or information on what you can do.

  • Has your time to appeal passed? If your time to appeal has passed, but your conviction or sentence was in violation of the law or Constitution, you can challenge it in New Jersey State Court, under certain circumstances, by a petition for post conviction relief. For information on how and when you can seek Post Conviction Relief, you can reference our material

  • When do you have to appeal? The times are short and strictly enforced. You have 45 days from the entry of judgment in Superior Court and 20 days from the entry of judgment in Municipal Court.

Appeals and other challenges to court's rulings are complex, and filled with procedural pitfalls. The Rules themselves are also subject to interpretation by court decisions. In addition, most appeals are won by showing that there were substantial errors in the trial court. In other words, you have to be able to indentify errors made by experienced judges and attorneys and then convince the court hearing your challenge that those errors justify overturning your conviction or sentence.

You should consult with an attorney as quickly as possible. The deadlines for appeal are a matter of weeks, not months, and they are strictly enforced. If you miss the deadlines, your appeal will not be considered, even if it would have won if it had been on time.

Our appeals team has over 35 years combined experience. We will use that experience to find the errors that merit an appeal or other challenge, and to present them to the Court effectively. Call us for a free consultation.

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