If you’ve been through a trial and lost your case, you may have grounds for an appeal — or you may not. An appeal is not a chance for a do-over because you didn’t like the first result. It’s a request to have an appeals court review your case to make sure your trial was conducted fairly and the court properly considered every factor it should have in the course of the decision. Specific grounds must be called out for the appeal and their impact on your trial must be persuasively stated. It is by no means a fishing expedition.
The procedure for filing an appeal in Colorado is complicated and involves numerous important forms, hearings and deadlines. Once the process is started, it can take a long time to resolve. Most of the work happens on paper. The attorney doing the work needs excellent communication skills and a sharp knowledge of recent case law to make sure everything is properly covered. In other words, going down this road calls for help from an experienced attorney.
Television shows, movies and books that deal with law enforcement make the appeals process look routine. However, only a small percentage of appeals are actually heard and even fewer are successful. The appeals court is looking for procedural problems with a case, not to question the judgment or opinions of your original trial judge.
If the appeals court does find a procedural error in the record of say, a felony trial, you may be retried for the offense you’ve been convicted of. You can’t be retried for an offense you’ve been acquitted for. This second trial may present another chance to reach a plea deal and may mean that the same witnesses and evidence used in the original trial may be no longer available, or may be newly available. Again, this offers no guarantee. But in the event an appeal does produce this opportunity, an excellent attorney may be able to achieve a different result.