If you have been convicted of a crime in New Jersey, or if you have lost in a civil court, you have the right to appeal. However, the appeal process can be confusing and highly time sensitive. You should immediately consult with an experienced New Jersey appellate lawyer if you are considering an appeal.
Time is of The Essence in Appeals Cases
If you have been convicted of a traffic violation in a New Jersey Municipal Court, you have only 20 days to file your notice of appeal with the Superior Court, Law Division, in the county in which your municipal conviction occurred. If you have been convicted of a crime or have lost a civil proceeding in the Superior Court, Law Division, you may appeal to the Superior Court, Appellate Division. In this case, you must file your notice of appeal within 45 days from the day of the entry of final judgment in your case.
The first step in initiating your appeal is to file your notice of appeal with the clerk’s office in Trenton. You must also order the transcripts from your trial and serve them upon your adversary and the court. Finally, you must prepare your “appellate brief” which lays out the reasons you feel your conviction or judgment should be reversed. This is not meant to be a complete guide but simply an overview. There are other important steps. An experienced appellate attorney can take care of the entire process and give you the best chance for success on appeal.
Probably the biggest misconception of an appeal is that is a new trial. It is not. Rather, an appeal is a proceeding in which you cite errors that the trial court may have made in your case. If these errors are deemed serious enough by the appellate court, the court may reverse your conviction or judgment and remand your case for a new trial or hearing.
Typical Reasons for Reversing a Decision
1) Your conviction was “against the weight of the evidence” introduced at trial;
2) The trial court allowed inadmissible or improper evidence to be used against you;
3) The trial court gave improper jury instructions;
4) The trial judge or prosecutor committed some kind of impropriety; and
5) Juror/Jury bias or irregularity. There are countless other arguments an experienced appellate attorney can make on your behalf, and each argument has its own standard that needs to be met on appeal in order for you to be successful.
New Jersey Appellate Attorney on Your Side
Another frequently asked question is whether new evidence may be considered on appeal. While there are exceptions, the general answer is “no”. Your appeal will be considered only on the record developed by the trial court. The appellate judge and his or her law clerks will read your brief along with that of your opponent and consider your arguments against the transcripts of your trial.
If you have been convicted of a crime or have lost in a civil proceeding, contact an experienced New Jersey criminal appeal lawyer for a free consultation.