When you find yourself dissatisfied with the outcome of a legal case and wish to challenge it, understanding the appeals process is important.
It is a structured procedure designed to review and potentially modify the initial decision.
1. File a notice of appeal
To commence the appeals process, you must promptly file a formal notice of appeal within a stipulated time frame subsequent to the judgment rendered by the lower court. This notice serves as an official declaration to the higher court, indicating your intent to contest the prior ruling.
2. Prepare the record
After filing the notice of appeal, the lower court compiles a record of the case, including transcripts, evidence and legal documents. This record becomes the foundation for your appeal, so it is important to ensure its accuracy and completeness.
3. Submit briefs
As the appellant, you must present your arguments and reasons for challenging the lower court’s decision in a written document called the appellant’s brief. The opposing party, known as the appellee, has the opportunity to respond to your arguments with a written document called the appellee’s response. In some cases, after reviewing the briefs, the higher court may schedule an oral argument.
4. Higher court’s decision
Following a comprehensive review of all pertinent documents and oral arguments, the higher court will issue a definitive decision. This decision may encompass various courses of action, including affirmation, reversal, modification or remand of the lower court’s judgment. Unless the court grants leave for further appeals, this decision stands as final.
The appeals process involves a series of well-defined steps that offer an opportunity to challenge an unfavorable court decision, all of which take time. In 2022, the average time in months between filing and submission for criminal cases in Texas was 7.3 and 6.5 for civil.