Appeals

As an attorney I have often heard people say “I’m going to appeal my case all the way to the United States Supreme Court.” The reality of this statement is that the United States Supreme Court hears a very small percentage of all cases that come there on appeal because the United States Supreme Court as well as the Iowa Supreme Court have the discretionary authority to decide which cases they will hear. Nevertheless, any person accused/convicted of a crime has an absolute right to appeal and secure an appellate ruling on any ruling or jury verdict which is adverse to them and often times the appeal is heard by a lower appellate court such as the Iowa Court of Appeals (state cases) or the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals (federal cases).

In the criminal context, most typical appeals involve situations where the trial court incorrectly denied a motion to suppress or exclude evidence or where the court gave an incorrect instruction to the jury. Some appeals also include contesting the sentence imposed by the judge following a guilty verdict, however these appeals are rarely successful unless the sentence is illegal. Generally speaking, the time for filing an appeal following a guilty verdict is within thirty days of the verdict although other time periods may apply depending on the type of case and what issue is being appealed. In short, just like every other aspect of the criminal justice system, there are rules, time lines, and procedures that must be followed in order to perfect an appeal and failure to follow these rules may bar the appeal from moving forward. If you or someone you know is contemplating an appeal it is best to contact a qualified attorney immediately to discuss the possible options.