A felony conviction may be a devastating blow after the months you spent preparing for and going through your criminal trial. However, in Arizona, you can appeal the decision.

The appellate court’s review of your trial is not a second trial. Instead, it is a panel of judges reading your brief, listening to your attorney’s oral argument if they call for one, and then deciding if a legal error occurred during your trial that might have changed the outcome.

An error might involve an incorrect verdict based on the evidence presented at trial, a violation of due process rights or an unfair trial. 

Notice of appeal

Unless your sentence is the death penalty, in which case the appeal is filed automatically for you, you and your attorney must take certain steps to file the appeal. You have 20 days from the day you received your sentence to file your Notice of Appeal.

Appellate brief

After the notice, you must file an Opening Brief. Your written brief is the primary (or only) mode you have to convince the panel of appellate judges that there was such an error. To point out any legal mistakes, you and your attorney will need to review the transcripts of the trial and use them to support your argument.

The assistant attorney general assigned to your case reviews your brief, and the court records and then writes an Answering Brief. You may then create a reply to that answer.

The decision

The panel of appellate judges may take between a month and a year to produce a decision about your case, during which time you may have to remain incarcerated. Judges may determine that you should receive a new trial, that they may modify your sentence or your conviction, or they may determine that your current conviction and sentence are correct.