The Right Time to Appeal

If you feel that an error happened in the court process that resulted in your conviction, you have the right to appeal the decision reached in your case. If you decide that you want to appeal, you should do so after the criminal conviction and punishment get imposed. The purpose of an appeal is to refute a conviction imposed by a judge. For this reason, you cannot appeal a criminal conviction until the judge imposes a sentence. However, once a decision is reached, you should file your appeal as soon as possible (C.G.S. § 54-95(b); PB § 61-6).

In many situations, a court will continue a case several weeks after a jury or judge decides to convict the defendant before imposing a sentence. It might take additional time for the court to determine the proper punishment for a convicted defendant. This means that after a jury makes a finding of guilt, you usually cannot start the appeals process until several weeks or months later, when the punishment and sentencing actually get handed down. However, once a judge imposes a sentence, you must file your appeal within 20 days (PB § 63-1).

Once the appeal begins, the sentence imposed gets stayed, or not enforced until after the appeal (C.G.S. § 54-95(b); PB § 61-13). This means that during the appeal, you don’t have to serve any of your sentence. Any time you have served in prison related to your trial, for example, time spent in jail before your trial, may get counted toward your sentence. If a judge does not terminate the stay, you are admitted to bail just as you were when your criminal case was pending.

Timeline of Appeal

An appeal is not a “trial”. No new evidence gets presented to the court, so planning the appeal will not take as long as the planning of your trial. However, this does not mean that the appeal process is quick. In many cases, your appeal can take longer than the original trial. This is because you still have to collect documents such as transcripts and the record in your case, you have to prepare briefs and reply briefs, and you must make your oral argument. On top of these aspects of the appeal is the fact that you will most likely have to wait to have your appeal heard in court. There is generally a wait to get into an appellate court due to the sheer amount of people who try to appeal their cases.

The appeal itself consists of a 20-minute oral argument. However, you may be waiting a year or two for this oral argument because of the number of cases the appellate court hears. Your case may not get decided by the court for many months or even a year after all briefs have gotten submitted. If you want to get an appeal, keep in mind that deciding to begin the process means a time commitment of months or even years.