Posted on 5/25/20

If you have gone through a trial with a criminal defense attorney, you may wonder whether you need to hire a different attorney for your Texas criminal appeal. Many defendants who have been convicted of a crime in Texas assume that they should keep their attorney for their criminal appeal. 

Keeping your criminal trial lawyer for your appeal might not be the best option for you, however. Your criminal appeal is your one hope of overturning your criminal conviction. You need a lawyer who has extensive experience with Texas criminal appellate law. What should you look for when hiring a Texas appellate lawyer?

  1. Find a Lawyer With a Proven Criminal Appeals Record

Many Dallas and Fort Worth criminal lawyers advertise themselves as being criminal appeals lawyers. Unfortunately, many of these lawyers have never worked on Texas criminal appeals, or they might only handle one or two criminal appeals per year. When you meet with your potential Texas appeals lawyer, ask them how many criminal appeals cases they take on each year. 

  1. Find a Lawyer Who Understands the Two Types of Criminal Appeals

There are two levels of criminal appeals in Texas. The first appeal happens in the Court of Appeals in the local area in which the defendant received the criminal conviction. For example, if you received your conviction in one of the following counties, you will file your initial appeal in Texas’ Fifth Court of Appeals:

  • Collin

  • Dallas

  • Grayson

  • Hunt

  • Kaufman

  • Rockwall

Every Texas Court of Appeals follows local rules for the procedure of the appeals. These local rules govern everything from when your lawyer can make an oral argument to how to file briefs in cross-appeals. It is important that your Texas appeals lawyer understands all of the local regulations and procedures in the appellate court you will use. 

  1. Successful Criminal Appeals are Different From Criminal Trials

Prosecutors bring criminal charges in trial courts. During the trial, both sides present evidence. Prosecutors attempt to prove that the defendant committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Trial lawyers present evidence that shows the defendant did not commit the crime. Trial lawyers and appellate lawyers use different legal skills. 

Trial lawyers need to be able to call forth witnesses, present evidence, and make compelling opening and closing statements before a jury. In appellate courts, lawyers do not present evidence and argue about the facts of the case. Instead, they argue about legal issues and policy issues to a judge or group of judges. 

  1. Your Trial Lawyer Needs Excellent Legal Writing Skills

Appellate lawyers need to have excellent legal writing skills. They will file a written appeal with a Texas appellate court along with a written brief. The written brief will explain in detail why the appellant feels there was an error at the trial. It is essential that your lawyer knows how to analyze legal issues and write compelling legal arguments on your behalf.

Contact Our Dallas Criminal Appeals Lawyer

If you are searching for a criminal appeals lawyer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we can help. Contact Abel Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation. 

Flower Mound Office

Phone: 972.584.7837

Denton Office