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A closer look at the appellate process here in Florida -- II

Last time, our blog began an examination of Florida's appellate courts in order to impress upon those who have been found guilty of any type of felony-level criminal offense that they are by no means at the end of the road as far as the legal process is concerned.

Specifically, we spent some time examining the structure of the state's appellate court system, as well as some of the fundamentals of criminal appeals. In today's post, we'll take things one step further by exploring how the appellate process unfolds, including some of the basic requirements that appellants -- meaning those pursuing appeals -- must satisfy.

The commencement of an appeal

If a person decides to appeal their criminal conviction, they will file what is known as the Notice of Appeal with the clerk of the circuit court, who will then forward it to the appropriate intermediate appellate court.

It's important for prospective appellants to understand that they must include the applicable filing fee with the Notice of Appeal and more significantly, that in a state appeal, the notice must generally be filed within 30 days of their conviction. Failure to abide by this latter requirement will mean that the appeal cannot be heard by the court.

Submissions to the appellate court

As outlined in the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, there are a number of critical items that an appellant must supply after filing the Notice of Appeal, including the following:

  • The record: Within ten days of filing the Notice of Appeal, the appellant must provide written direction to the clerk of the circuit court regarding the submission of the record to the appellate court. This means guidance as to the papers and documents -- including trial transcripts and exhibits -- that should (or should not be) copied and forwarded to the clerk of the appellate court.
  • The written brief: Within 70 days of filing the Notice of Appeal, the appellant must provide the appellate court with a written brief outlining the legal issues they are asking the court to consider and their arguments --- supported by the law and the record -- as to why the conviction must be overturned. It should be noted that the written brief must provide certain elements and adhere to formatting requirements in order to be considered.

In appeals in federal cases, the rules, including the time limits, are different from those in state appeals. Most importantly, a defendant in a federal criminal case only has 14 days to file his notice of appeal.

We'll continue this important discussion in future posts ...

Given the complexity of the appellate process and the gravity of the stakes, those looking to take this step should give serious consideration to retaining the services of a legal professional with considerable experience in this area.

At the Law Offices of Horwitz & Citro, P.A., we have over three decades of experience handling appeals at both the state and federal levels, please visit our website to learn more about how we can help you.