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An appeal is quite different from a trial.  The appellate court reviews the trial court’s proceedings to ensure that they were conducted according to law.  For that reason, the appellate court does not decide guilt or innocence or other factual questions. The court’s authority in an appeal is limited to matters in the “record,” which includes the clerk’s transcript (documents from the superior court’s file) and a reporter’s transcript (testimony and other oral proceedings in the superior court). The process works the same for both misdemeanor and felony appeals, but the major difference is that misdemeanor appeals are handled by the appellate division of the superior court, whereas felony appeals are handled by the state court of appeals.

Appeals take a considerable amount of time to complete, and the major events in the case are often separated by periods of months.

Notice of Appeal

An appeal is started with the filing of a Notice of Appeal.  However, there are very strict deadlines for beginning an appeal.  Generally, you have only 30 days from the date of sentencing on a misdemeanor to file the Notice of Appeal.  On felony cases, you have 60 days from the date of sentencing to file the Notice of Appeal.

Appellant’s Opening Brief, Respondent’s Brief, Appellant’s Reply Brief

The most important procedure will be the filing of an opening brief, in which the defense attorney sets forth all the issues to be raised on the client’s behalf, as well as the procedural history and the facts of the case.  The Attorney General will then file a respondent’s brief, and the defense attorney will file a reply brief.

Oral Argument

After the briefing is complete, the appeals court will begin to review and evaluate the case.  The attorneys will then have an opportunity to go to court for an oral argument.


Finally, the case will be decided by a panel of three Court of Appeal justices, and the decision will be in the form of a written opinion.

Michael Hernandez is an experienced misdemeanor and felony appeals lawyer in San Diego with the dedication and experience you need. Contact our San Diego criminal defense firm today for a free consultation on your appeal.

Appeals Case ProcessMisdemeanor Case ProcessFelony Case Process