When facing a wrongful conviction for a crime in Utah, it is imperative to immediately contact a criminal defense attorney with the experience necessary to navigate the complex appeals process. The appeals process requires adherence to critical time deadlines and procedural requirements that must be met in order to preserve your right to appeal and to give you the best chance at reversing your conviction.
To learn how we can help defend you through the appeals process, contact us now.
Appeals Process from the Ogden District Court
Initiating the appeals process from a district court conviction requires filing a “notice of appeal.” The notice of appeal must be filed with the court in which the conviction occurred, and provides formal notice of the defendant’s decision to appeal the conviction or other court ruling.
The notice of appeal MUST be filed within 30 days of the trial court entering the final judgment. This 30-day time limit is considered to be jurisdictional, meaning that failing to file the notice of appeal within that time period will deprive the appellate court of jurisdiction to hear the appeal. In most criminal cases, the sentencing order in most criminal cases will be considered the “final judgment.” If the notice of appeal is not filed within 30 days, the right to appeal is considered forfeited or waived.
Following the filing of the notice of appeal, a docketing statement must be filed with the appellate court. The docketing must present a statement of the issues expected to be raised on appeal, but is not binding on the defense.
Upon filing of a notice of appeal, the trial court is responsible for preparing the official record of the case, including trial transcripts, motions, orders, and other documents. The trial court transmits the record to the appellate court. This official record provides the necessary information that then becomes the basis for argument on appeal.
Defense counsel reviews and analyzes the record to identify issues that might provide the best basis for obtaining relief on appeal. In many cases, a careful analysis of the record may uncover potential appeal issues that were not obvious to trial counsel during the initial proceedings.
With the appeal issues identified, the appellant must file a legal brief that presents an in-depth legal analysis of errors that occurred in the court trial along with an explanation of how those errors prejudiced or harmed the defendant’s ability to present a defense or obtain a fair trial. The prosecution then files a brief responding to the appellant’s arguments. The appellant has the final opportunity to present written legal argument in a reply brief with the appellate court.
Following complete briefing of the legal issues by both parties, the appellate court will review and consider the briefs. In most cases, the appellate court will then schedule oral arguments in the case. (In cases where the legal analysis is straightforward and the decision is clearly dictated by prior case law, the appellate court will sometimes issue a decision without oral argument.) The oral argument process provides both parties with an opportunity to appear before a panel of appellate court judges and to respond to questions or concerns the judges may have based on the written briefing process.
Following oral arguments, the appellate court takes the matter under advisement. The case may remain under advisement for months. Once a decision is reached, the court will issue a formal written opinion announcing the ruling, and present the legal grounds for the decision.
In cases where the initial appeal is heard by the Utah Court of Appeals, the losing party may file a petition for writ of certiorari requesting that the Utah Supreme Court review the decision of the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court has discretion to determine whether or not to grant the petition. If the petition for writ of certiorari is granted, then a full briefing and oral argument process will follow. The Supreme Court can then either affirm or reverse the Court of Appeals’ decision.
Justice Court Appeals in Ogden
The justice court appeal process is very different from the process involved in appealing from a district court. Justice courts are not considered “courts of record,” so the appeals process from a justice court is in the form of a “de novo” hearing or trial. No docketing statements, briefing, or oral arguments are required. Instead, the defendant is automatically entitled to a new hearing or trial, that will be heard in the district court. The results of the “de novo” hearing or trial in the district court are generally considered final.
By statute, the time period for filing a notice of appeal in the justice court was modified in 2017 to a 28-day period. If the notice of appeal is not filed within that time period, the right to appeal is considered waived or forfeited.
Finding a Criminal Defense/Appellate Lawyer in Ogden
If you intend to appeal a decision of a judge in the Ogden district court, it is important to obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney. We have experience in both the trial courts and appellate courts in cases ranging from murder to complex white collar crimes to DUI. We offer legal services to clients in Ogden and throughout Utah. Time is critical to preserving your right to appeal. If you have been convicted in a Utah criminal case, contact us now to begin the appeal process.