I’ve Been Found Guilty of a Crime – Can I Appeal?

Just because you have been convicted, or found guilty, of a crime in Arizona then that does not necessarily mean your case is over. Any person found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony by the State of Arizona has a right to appeal. However, there are tight time constraints for when a person may appeal – so it is important to reach out to an Arizona criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to maximize your available options.

What is an Appeal?

An appeal is the legal process asking a higher court to review or reverse a previous conviction handed down by a lower court.

Unlike the arguments in a trial, an appeal focuses on pointing out an error that may have occurred during the trial process and does not involve a jury.  Instead the Court of Appeals will determine whether the trial court committed any errors of law or criminal procedure. In addition, an appeal may successfully reverse a conviction if the judge determines the conviction was unsupported by sufficient evidence.  

Commonly successful appeals in Arizona focus on proving that a client had an incompetent attorney during trial, that new evidence has been discovered that is relevant to the case, or that there has been a “substantive change in law” that could have altered the outcome of your trial. A good criminal defense attorney will be able to spot any potential deficiencies in the trial.

Can I Appeal?

Under the Constitution, every Arizona resident convicted of a crime has a right to appeal. However, there is one important caveat – you typically cannot appeal if you entered a guilty plea or a plea of no contest. There are some exceptions to this rule under the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, where a person may seek a court’s review of their guilty plea or plea of no contest.

Further, while every person may have the right to appeal a guilty verdict – there are strict rules governing the procedure of appeals. The most important rule requires that anyone convicted of a crime must file a Notice of Appeal within a certain time frame. The amount of time given to a convicted person depends on the nature of his or her appeal, but is generally 20 days from the entry of judgment and sentence. This time frame includes all holidays and weekends. If the Notice of Appeal is not filed by the deadline, then the person may have lost their right to an appeal. Like the law barring Arizona residents that pled guilty or no contest from appealing, there are also exceptions to this rule.   

After Being Convicted of a Crime, What Should I Do Next?

Because appeals are complex and time-sensitive, you should speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our attorneys will be able to assess the specific facts of your case and outline any possible options for a successful appeal.  Call us today to arrange a free legal consultation.