The Criminal Appeal Process: How to Win an Appeal in Court

criminal appeals process

If you’re facing a criminal conviction or getting ready to stand trial, you may be wondering what your chances are of getting the verdict overturned. 

You should know that the Minnesota criminal appeal process is a complicated one, and appeals are often the last resort for defendants who have already exhausted all other avenues of justice.  But in some cases, it may be a viable one. 

Here we’ll explain how the criminal appeals process works and how you can get help so that if you find yourself in it, you’ll know what to expect. 

Grounds for Appeal in a Criminal Case (Does Yours Qualify?)

The district court can make mistakes, and sometimes justice requires a new trial. 

Appeals aren’t automatic and require careful consideration by an experienced appellate attorney before the decision to appeal is made. 

An appeal starts with the criminal defendant filing a notice of appeal with the clerk’s office. This tells everyone involved in your case that you are appealing the decision and jumpstarts the process of taking your case back to the trial court. But before that can happen, you need to know whether or not your case qualifies for an appeal. 

Here are some signs that it does: 

  • There were legal errors made in your original trial
  • Juror misconduct
  • Insufficient evidence
  • Ineffective assistance of counsel
  • Errors in the application of the law

There are numerous reasons why a criminal verdict can be repealed—there just has to be valid grounds for an appeal and sufficient evidence to back it up. 

How to Appeal a Criminal Conviction (and Win) in Minnesota

Once you’ve established grounds for an appeal, you can move forward with the petition to appeal the conviction. Here are five ways to appeal a guilty verdict and win in Minnesota. 

Step 1: Collect Relevant Transcripts & Evidence

Before filing any paperwork with the appellate court, you should collect all relevant transcripts from previous hearings on your case as well as any physical evidence that could help support your position. 

Step 2: Develop a Strong Argument

You can bet the criminal justice system doesn’t hand out appeals like Halloween candy. You have to earn it. You must develop a compelling argument for why your case should be reconsidered. 

This can often be done by pointing out errors in judgment or law that were made during the original trial, but it’s important to keep in mind that you must also have even stronger evidence to back up those claims.

Step 3:  File Your Paperwork ON TIME

We can’t stress this enough. You don’t have all the time in the world. Under Minnesota law, you have a short 30- to 90-day window to get your appeal in front of the courts. Missing that deadline will be disastrous for your case and make all of your hard work be for nothing. So stay up to date on all deadlines. 

Step 4: Hire an Experienced Appellate Attorney

Filing a criminal appeal is an all-or-nothing endeavor. You either win, or you lose. Getting after it yourself is usually not a wise move. Instead, you should rely on the expertise of an experienced appellate attorney. Our attorneys at Martine Law can help you with every step of the process, keep your case on track and build a strong legal argument.

Step 5: Be Completely Honest With Your Attorney

Details matter. Be completely honest with your attorney about what happened. This information will help us build our defense strategy going forward. The slightest omission or mistake could derail your entire case. Help us get it right the first time by being forthcoming about all information. 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Court Decision on an Appeal in Minnesota?

Typically, the Minnesota Court of Appeals will file its written decision (called an opinion) within 90 days after the oral argument or nonoral conference date. The opinion explains why the judges decided the way they did. 

The Court of Appeals will not reconsider or re-hear an appeal after filing its opinion. All court decisions are public information and are available free of charge. If the appellate court grants the appeal, it will reverse the district court’s decision in whole or partially. 

However, if the appellate court denies the appeal, the original verdict stands. You may decide to further press the matter by pushing it to the Minnesota Supreme Court of Appeals; however, this will come with its own hoops to jump through.

Want to Appeal Criminal Convictions in Minnesota? Call Martine Law Today.

Appealing a criminal conviction won’t be easy. If it was, everyone would do it. 

It’s incredibly complicated and takes months before you receive a decision. And when the stakes are so high, you need someone who’s going to have your back every step of the way. At Martine Law, we’re those lawyers. 

We have a proven track record of success defending clients against all types of criminal cases including: 

Get the help you need today—contact our Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers now.

Author Bio

Xavier Martine

Xavier Martine is the Founder of Martine Law, a Minnesota criminal defense and family law firm. Serving clients in Minneapolis, MN, and surrounding areas, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of criminal matters, including DWIs, drug charges, misdemeanors, domestic violence, and other criminal charges. He also represents clients in family law matters, including divorce, child support, and child custody.

Xavier received his Juris Doctor from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys Under 40 in Minnesota” in 2021 by The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. He was also named the “Best DUI Lawyer in Minneapolis” award in 2023 by and a “Rising Star” in 2023 by SuperLawyers.

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