An individual who has been convicted of DUI may "appeal" his or her case in some instances. In a DUI appeal, the convicted offender asks a higher court to review certain aspects of the case for legal error, as to either the conviction itself or the sentence imposed.
Common Grounds for a DUI Appeal
Appellate attorneys can raise a number of issues for a DUI appeal. Generally, the grounds for an appeal fall under the categories of procedural or substantive. Examples of procedural issues include errors in taking a guilty plea, while motions to exclude confessions and to suppress evidence are examples of substantive issues. A seasoned DUI appellate lawyer can offer an in-depth explanation specific to your circumstances.
The Appeal Process: Briefs
In a DUI appeal, the defendant (now called the "appellant") argues that, based on key legal mistakes which affected the jury's decision and/or the sentence imposed, the case should be dismissed or the appellant should be re-tried or re-sentenced.
In considering an appeal, the court reviewing the case looks only at the "record" of the proceedings in the lower court, and does not consider any new evidence. The record is made up of the court reporter's transcripts of everything said in court, whether by the judge, the attorneys, or witnesses. Anything else admitted into evidence, such as documents or objects, also becomes part of the record.
The DUI Appeal Process: The Record
In reaching a decision on the appeal, the higher court ("appellate court") looks to this record and to written "briefs" filed by both sides of the appeal. For example, an appellant challenging a conviction or sentence files an opening brief, arguing how and why the conviction or sentence was legally mistaken. In turn, the government files its own brief to illustrate why the conviction or sentence should be upheld. The appellant typically has an opportunity to file a second brief in response to the government's position, and the appellate court may hear oral arguments from each side before reaching a decision on the appeal.
The DUI Appeal Process: How and When?
At both the state and federal court levels, there are many options for obtaining relief after a criminal conviction or sentence. It is important to note that, although it may take a number of months for an appeal to be heard and decided, most states require an appellant to notify the courts and the government of the intent to appeal very soon after a conviction or sentence.
Consult an Experienced Appeals Lawyer
If you or a loved one is convicted for DUI and you want to appeal, you may need an experienced appeals lawyer. A skilled attorney who specializes in appellate cases will evaluate all the evidence, including the procedure and court records, to ensure that your legal rights are protected. Plus, it's important to speak to a lawyer familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction. Most offer free consultations, so your first step should be to contact an an experienced appeals attorney.