If you go to trial to fight your DUI charge and are found guilty of the offense, that does not mean that your case is necessarily over. You have the right to appeal a conviction for a crime to a higher court. If you win your appeal, you may be granted a new trial, and your conviction may be overturned.
Appeals do not work the same way as criminal trials do. Typically, appeals move much slower than trials. While trials might involve a lot of time in court with witnesses testifying and attorneys presenting arguments to the jury, appeals are primarily argued through written appellate briefs. Here is what you might generally expect to occur when you appeal a DUI conviction with the help of DiCindio Law.
Notice of appeal
Before you can file an appeal, you must first file a notice of appeal in the court in which you were convicted. Under 210 Pa. Code Rule 903, your notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the date when the order of your conviction was entered with the trial court. You must fill out the paperwork for the notice of appeal and file it with the clerk of the court.
The appellate record
After you have filed your notice of appeal and any request for a transcript, the clerk of the court will stamp your notice with the date that it was received. It will then be transmitted to the Court of Appeals, and the Court of Appeals will order the clerk to produce the record on appeal. The record on appeal usually includes the trial transcripts together with the motions and orders that were filed with the trial court.
Under 210 Pa. Code Rule 906, you must file proof of service and your transcript requests when you file your notice of appeal. Once it has been filed, you will need to serve it on the trial court judge, the court reporter, the prosecutor, and the court administrator. Under 210 Pa. Code Rule 1931, the court clerk and court reporter will have 60 days to gather together the documents and transcripts for the record on appeal and to transmit them to the Court of Appeals. When the record is ready, copies will be sent to the court of appeal, the prosecutor, and to you as the appellant.
Right to be represented by an appellate attorney
You have the general right to have an attorney to represent you when you appeal a DUI conviction. If you cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, an appellate lawyer will be appointed to represent you by the state. While you can represent yourself when you appeal a DUI conviction, it is typically not a good idea. To increase your chances that you might succeed on your appeal, it is better to get the help of an experienced appellate lawyer who understands the rules and procedures involved with appeals.
Your attorney and the prosecutor will write arguments in documents that are called briefs. The arguments that the lawyers can make can only be based on what is contained in the appellate record. You are not allowed to present new evidence or to rely on any information that was not presented at your trial. An appeal of your DUI conviction is not a new trial. It is simply a review of any error that might have taken place in your trial or motions hearings.
The brief that your attorney will write and file on your behalf is called the opening brief. In it, he or she will make the arguments of why your conviction or sentence was not proper. After the opening brief is filed, the prosecutor will be able to respond to it with a response brief. Prosecutors typically try to give arguments about why the sentence or conviction is proper. After the response brief is filed, your attorney will receive a copy and will be able to file a reply brief. Filing a reply brief provides you with the opportunity for your attorney to respond to the arguments that are made by the prosecutor. The process of filing these briefs can take up to about six months.
In Pennsylvania, the court of appeals that hears appeals of criminal matters is the Superior Court. Once your attorney and the prosecutor have filed all of their briefs, the Superior Court will schedule a date for them to present oral arguments.
Both your attorney and the prosecution will be able to present oral arguments directly to the appellate judges. If the judges have questions, the attorneys will have the opportunity to answer them. Each attorney will be allotted a specific amount of time during which they can make their oral arguments. When they are finished, the appellate judges will make their decision after they leave the bench.
The decision that the Superior Court makes is issued in a written opinion. In some cases, the opinion may be filed shortly after the presentation of the oral arguments. In others, it may take months before the opinions are issued.
Most people do not win the appeals of their DUI convictions. The Superior Court sometimes affirms the trial court’s ruling in full, which means that it rejects your arguments. If this happens, your conviction and sentence will remain.
In some cases, the Superior Court will agree with the appellants because of the existence of some types of legal errors that could have impacted the outcome of the cases. In these cases, the Superior Court will reverse the portion of the sentence or conviction that was in error. A reversal could result in the conviction being overturned or it could result in changes to some of the terms of your sentence. If you lose your appeal, you may have the option to ask the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to permit an appeal to them.
Get help from DiCindio Law
If you want to appeal a conviction for a DUI, you must act quickly. You only have a limited time to file the notice of appeal with the trial court. Contact DiCindio Law today by filling out our online contact form to schedule a consultation and to get help with filing an appeal.