If you have been convicted of a crime in Texas, you are probably feeling defeated and worried about your future. However, you do have the option to pursue an appeal of your conviction. For most people outside the legal system, the criminal appeals process can seem incomprehensible. The most important thing to remember is that even though every case is different, its process is the same. When you understand some of the basic criminal appeal elements, you can better understand what will happen in your case. We will discuss five things you should know about Texas’s criminal appeals process below.
A criminal appeal does not mean you will have a new trial in front of a judge. Instead, an appellate court will review the trial court judge’s decision to ascertain whether or not it was fair and legal.
Who Decides the Appeal
Your first criminal appeal will go to one of four different appellate courts. Each court has a panel of three judges, and most of them have more. Appellate Court judges are elected in Texas and hear criminal and civil appeals.
What an Appellate Court Does
The court of appeal will not decide whether you are guilty or innocent. The panel will review the verdict from the trial court to determine whether there is enough evidence to support it. This type of review is called “legal sufficiency review.” in rare cases in which the verdict is “manifestly unjust,” the appellate court will engage in a “factual sufficiency review.” The court only has a written record to look at, so they rarely re-evaluate the facts in the case.
After you file your notice of appeal and provide the record of the trial court proceedings, your attorney will file a brief. This brief will be crucial to your appeal because it will set forth the legal arguments for why the court should side with you. Your lawyer will state how the trial court erred and why the appellate court is warranted in getting involved.
Starting the Appeals Process
The first step in starting the appeals process is to file a notice of appeal, telling the court that you would like to appeal and which appellate court will hear the appeal. In Texas, you only have 30 days from the dates you are sentenced to file an appeal, so the sooner you speak to an appellate lawyer, the better.