Appeals Process in Arizona

Posted On March 26, 2021 Criminal Appeals Written by John Allen Phebus

If you believe there has been a mistake during the court process that led to a judgment you do not agree with as a criminal defendant in Arizona, your criminal defense attorney can help you file an appeal. An appeal has the power to reverse the trial court’s decision or grant you a new trial. Learn more about the appeals process in Arizona with help from a lawyer. Having an attorney represent you during an appeal can significantly help your case.

What Is an Appeal?

An appeal is a legal request for a change in the outcome of a case. An appeal asks a higher court to review a judgment made by a lower court for issues or errors that may have affected the outcome of the case.

The Court of Appeals will not hear testimony from any witnesses or review any new evidence. Unlike a trial court, it does not determine facts. Instead, it only reviews the information and evidence presented in the original trial to determine whether there was an error of law or another critical mistake that may have influenced the jury’s decision.

What Makes a Case Eligible for an Appeal?

Any party involved in a legal trial can file for an appeal after a judgment is made. You cannot file an appeal simply because you are unhappy with the outcome of a trial, however; the Court of Appeals in Arizona will only hear appeals based on alleged errors that impacted the outcome of the case. These errors may include:

  • Error of law
  • Improperly admitted evidence
  • Incorrect jury instructions
  • Juror misconduct
  • Improper communication between jurors and witnesses
  • Lack of sufficient evidence
  • Inadequate legal representation (ineffective counsel)

As the party filing the appeal, you or your Glendale criminal attorney will have to explain why you believe one of these errors took place, as well as show a connection between the error and the judgment given. Even if there is proof of an error of law or jury misconduct, this will not lead to a successful appeal unless there is a link between the error and the jury’s decision.

What Is the Process Like?

To initiate an appeal in Arizona, you or your lawyer will file a Notice of Appeal form to the superior court (Court of Appeals) in the jurisdiction where the original trial took place. You will have to pay the filing fees unless you qualify for a Waiver/Deferral of Filing Fees. Court reporters will prepare transcripts of the proceedings that took place at the trial court. Then, a panel of judges will review the transcripts and other documents to evaluate the grounds for the appeal.

The evaluation process involves a panel of judges and their legal staff reviewing briefs and transcripts from the trial court to see if a mistake was made. Some cases may also involve oral arguments made by both attorneys. Most superior courts can issue decisions on appeals within 90 days. If your case is particularly complex, however, the decision may take longer.

When a decision is issued, your attorney will receive a notification from the Court of Appeals and pass the answer along to you. If the Court of Appeals rules in your favor, it may call for a reversal of the judgment made, a judgment to be modified or corrected, or a new trial to be held. Otherwise, it may uphold the original verdict.

If you wish to appeal the Court of Appeals’ decision, your lawyer can take your case to the next highest court. Although this only happens in a small percentage of cases, it is possible for an appeal to work all the way up to a review by the US Supreme Court. For more information about filing an appeal in Arizona, consult with an attorney near you.