How Can I Appeal My Conviction In Indiana?

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If you’ve been convicted of a crime in Indiana, you may be wondering if you can appeal.  With some exceptions, the answer is yes.  We help many people seek a “second look” at their cases by the Court of Appeals.  A conviction after trial isn’t necessarily final, but failing to pursue an appeal quickly can mean the loss of the ability to do so.

An appeal is initiated by filing a document called a Notice of Appeal.  The Notice of Appeal must be filed no later than thirty days after a final judgment is entered on the chronological case summary by the trial court.  This is a strict deadline, so it’s important to speak to an Indiana appellate attorney as soon as possible.

Once the Notice of Appeal is filed, the clerk will prepare the Clerk’s Record and the court reporter will prepare the transcript and exhibits.  Once the transcript is complete, your attorney has thirty days to file an Appellant’s Brief on your behalf.  The issues raised in this brief will vary from case to case, but they will be issues which arise from the record: the transcript of trial (and any other hearings) and all documents which were filed in the case, including exhibits which were admitted at trial.

There are a number of issues which may be raised in an appeal.  Perhaps the trial judge erroneously admitted or excluded evidence.  The prosecutor might have failed to present sufficient evidence from which a jury could have convicted you.  Or maybe the sentence imposed is inappropriate in light of nature of the offense and the character of the offender.  The potential issues for appeal should be discussed with your appeal attorney, who will then review the record and transcript to determine what issues to present to the Court of Appeals.

Once your attorney files your brief, the Attorney General’s Office will file a brief in response.  This brief will likely dispute your claims, arguing that the judge got it right, the evidence was sufficient, or the sentence was not inappropriate.  Regardless, as the Appellant, you and your attorney will get the last word.  This will come in the form of a Reply Brief, which must be filed within fifteen days of the Attorney General filing the Appellee’s Brief.  The Reply Brief is your opportunity to respond to the arguments made by the State through the Attorney General.  The filing of the Reply Brief will generally render the case ripe for a decision by the Court of Appeals, though there are occasions when the Court of Appeals will request oral argument.

Whether or not oral argument occurs, the Court of Appeals will eventually issue an opinion.  The decision may be to affirm (or uphold) the trial court, to reverse the trial court, or to potentially do both if multiple issues were presented on appeal.  Depending on the circumstances, convictions can be vacated, reduced, or left in place.  Even if a conviction is vacated, retrial is generally permissible unless the conviction was vacated due to insufficient evidence.  Further appeals may be taken by either side depending on the outcome, and could take the form of a petition for rehearing in the Court of Appeals of a petition to transfer to the Supreme Court. 

Because of the complexity of appeals and the issues that are often presented, it is important to speak with an Indianapolis attorney who handles criminal appeals.  This attorney can discuss the potential issues to be presented and offer insight as to the possible outcomes.  But because pursuing an appeal is a time-sensitive process, be sure to consult with an attorney after trial, even if sentencing has not yet occurred.  Doing so will give your appellate attorney sufficient time to gather as much information as possible in order to present the best case on appeal. 

If you or someone you know is in need of a criminal appeal, contact the Indianapolis attorneys at Banks & Brower.  We will explain the process, review your case, and work with you to present a strong appeal.  You can reach us anytime at 317-870-0019 or