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Standards of Appellate Review

An appeal is not a chance for another trial or a hearing before another judge. Appellate courts do not retry cases or hear new evidence that was not introduced at the previous trial or hearing. Instead, appellate courts review the lower court’s legal decisions to see if the proper procedures were followed and the proper law was applied to the specific facts of the case. Issues raised on appeal can be significantly different from those that are raised at trial. Again, an appeal is not a “do-over” of the original trial or hearing.

The appellate court will usually defer to the trial court or jury on their decisions of what the facts were at the original trial or hearing. However, the appellate court has the final word on what the law is. The appellate court will look to see if the original trial court applied the correct law to the specific facts. If the lower level court incorrectly applied the wrong law, the appellate court may reverse the trial court’s decision. This reversal can sometimes result in convictions being overturned or new trials ordered.

Jason Hicks is a Central Florida Criminal Appeals Lawyer

In criminal court, a “trial court” is the court that handles the case from the outset. A criminal defendant’s case will be handled in front of the same judge from the time of his or her arrest until the time the case is resolved by plea, trial, or dismissal. Once the trial court’s responsibility has ended (because of a plea, trial, or dismissal) a party who is unsatisfied with the outcome (typically the losing side, but sometimes even the winning side) may have grounds to appeal. A higher level court will review the lower court’s decisions to see if any legal mistakes were made at the trial level. Sometimes the upper level court will find these mistakes and send the case back to the trial court to correct them. This often results in convictions being overturned, please undone, and freedom gained. Appeals can be applied to more than just trials. Appellate attorneys may file an appeal because the judge should have granted a motion asking to dismiss the charges, because the punishment was illegal, or even because of very bad lawyering at the lower level that affected the outcome.

Jason Hicks has experience filing and winning criminal appeals.