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What is the timeframe for appealing my case?

Generally, you have 30 days to appeal your conviction. However, other types of appeals have different time restrictions. For example, State habeas corpus petitions must be filed within 4 years of the date of conviction. Discretionary and interlocutory appeals have specific deadlines as well.  

What if my former lawyer did not file the paperwork to appeal my conviction?

Unfortunately, this does happen. If you expressed to your trial lawyer that you wanted to appeal your conviction and he or she did not follow through, you can make a pretty good case that you are entitled to what is called an out-of-time appeal.  

What happens if I win my appeal?

Most appellate victories result in a new trial. It's like the case starts over and you are given another shot at beating the case. Very rarely does a win on appeal mean your case is over. However, winning a new trial is a huge victory!

How long does an appeal take?

There are several periods of wait time when you are appealing. You have to wait for the trial transcripts to be prepared by the court reporter. You have to wait for the clerk of the trial court to transmit the case to the appellate court. Once the case is docketed at the appellate court, cases are generally ruled on in 3-9 months, with about a six month average.

What judge or judges will hear my appeal?

The motion for new trial is considered by the same judge who presided over the trial, unless that judge has retired. The direct appeal will either be heard by the Court of Appeals, which normally sits in panels of three judges, or the Supreme Court of Georgia, which consists of seven judges.

What types of criminal cases does the Supreme Court consider?

The Supreme Court of Georgia has exclusive jurisdiction over murder cases and any case involving the constitutionality of a statute. The Supreme Court may also consider rulings by the Court of Appeals when the appealing party successfully petitions for a writ of certiorari.  

What types of criminal cases does the Court of Appeals consider?

Basically, every other type of criminal appeal that the Supreme Court does not have exclusive jurisdiction over.

Why should I move for a new trial before appealing?

The motion for new trial is important because it gives you an opportunity to build the record by introducing additional evidence. For example, if you believe your attorney should have called a particular witness at your trial, you will need to call that witness to testify at your motion for new trial. Otherwise, you will be unable to assert on your direct appeal that your trial lawyer was ineffective on this basis.  

Do I need a lawyer to appeal my conviction?

No doubt about it. In addition to the legal analysis of the issues that an appellate lawyer must do, there are also specific procedural requirements for appealing. One mishap and you can forever waive your ability to appeal or to appeal on certain grounds. In Georgia, those who have been convicted are not entitled to a lawyer for their habeas corpus petitions, so most people in prison represent themselves at that stage. This is the primary reason why most habeas petitions are unsuccessful.  

How many convictions are overturned on appeal?

The Court of Appeals of Georgia reversed in only 9.1% of its criminal appeals in 2013.

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