Understanding Appeals In Criminal Cases
Immediately after a criminal sentencing at a Louisiana trial court, you have 30 days to file a direct appeal. Direct appeals go to the appellate court — there are five appellate courts in Louisiana (and 13 in the federal court system). A direct appeal is limited to addressing legal mistakes only — a legal mistake is an error that occurred during your case and is limited to what is contained within the record.
Unfortunately, although a significant percentage of criminal cases in Louisiana are resolved by pleas, a guilty plea also includes a waiver of most appellate rights. There are, however, very limited appellate rights available to individuals who have entered guilty pleas.
On the other hand, if you went to trial and did not plead guilty, you have many more grounds for an appeal, particularly if a legal error occurred at your trial.
Important: Appeals are highly technical. They require in-depth research into the specific issues of your case and are limited to very particular legal grounds. If you need to file an appeal, our post-conviction attorneys can help.
More On The Appellate Process
Your appeal must be filed in the Court of Appeal that has jurisdiction over the area where you went to trial or took your plea. In Louisiana, your appeals are limited to any legal mistakes that are preserved in the record of your trial. If your attorney failed to object to something in your trial, you may have lost your right to use that claim in your appeal.
If the Court of Appeal rejects your appeal, you may apply to have your case heard by the Louisiana Supreme Court. It is important to note the specific day your final appeal is denied either at the appellate court or the Supreme Court. The date your final appeal is denied is known as your “date of final conviction” for the purposes of post-conviction relief.
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Attorneys Jacob Longman and Kathryn Jakuback Burke, of Longman Jakuback, are familiar with the types of issues that can be raised on direct appeal, and they can guide you through the process of questioning any errors that may have occurred at the lower court.