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How to File an Appeal in Florida

The legal system is made to bring justice to those who are wrong, but on often times a decision is made that can be harmful to those who aren't guilty of certain actions that they are being charged with. In such instances, cases and their outcomes may be appealed. There is an entire court process that is dedicated to reviewing decisions that are made in trial court when it is deemed as though there may have been a legal error in the first go-around. Appeals are different from trials, and by no means looked at as a second chance to argue ones case. Appeals are mean to right a wrong that occurs during the initial judgment.

What Type of Cases May be Appealed?

An "appellant" is the person who files an appeal that is challenging the court's judgment, while an "appellee" is the one who is trying to uphold the current judgment. Reasons for an appeal include: unfair sentencing, new evidence, court errors, or illegal imprisonment.

Appeals are divided into three sections that determine which level of court will hear the argument for appeal:

  • Circuit Court: hears cases that involve misdemeanors and traffic infractions
  • District Court: hears felonies, juvenile, probate, and circuit civil cases
  • Florida Supreme Court: hears cases involving death penalty or those that have already been lost at the District Court of Appeals level. In a civil case, either side may file the appeal. In a criminal case, the defendant can file an appeal if found guilty, but if found not guilty the other side can not file for an appeal. After a guilty verdict, either side can appeal. 

What Steps Do You Need to Take to File an Appeal?

In order to file an appeal one must first gather the records of their filed documents and file a notice of appeal with the proper court. An attorney can help write the briefs and file memorandums that are presented to the judge. Next is the oral argument that takes place in court that leads to the final decision made by the court. Typically the oral arguments allow each side to make a presentation of their position, followed by a question and answer session with the judge who will address each side of the argument. Once this is done, it becomes time for a decision to be made regarding the appeal. This decision is usually issued less than six months after the oral argument, but keep in mind that the entire appeal process can take up to and sometimes over a year to complete.

If you or someone you know are considering filing an appeal in the state of Florida, be prepared for a possible long road ahead. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can help alleviate a lot of the stress and concern involved. Having someone like Russell Spatz on your side can ensure that you're following all the right steps and will increase your chances at having your appeal granted. Russell Spatz has been practicing law in Florida for over four decades and knows exactly what it takes to have your case heard. Give him a call today at (305) 442-0200. 

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