Being convicted of a crime and sentenced to jail or prison is always a devastating blow. However, you have the opportunity to challenge a sentence or conviction by going through the criminal appeals process. Both state and federal crimes can be appealed. If the defendant is successful, he or she could potentially be freed from prison. In some cases, the prosecutor may even decide to dismiss the charges altogether.
If your loved one is in jail or prison, the criminal appeals attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to help shorten their sentence or even have them released. Our South Jersey criminal defense lawyers have over 45 years of combined experience handling a wide range of charges and convictions on behalf of thousands of Atlantic City and New Jersey residents. We handle cases across Atlantic County, Cape May County, Ocean County, Camden County, Burlington County, and the surrounding areas, and are proud to offer free initial consultations.
Don’t worry if you have lots of questions – that’s what we’re here for. To start talking about how our defense attorneys may be able to help you or your loved one, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych right away at (609) 616-4956. Your initial consultation is completely free of charge, and we will keep your information confidential. Se habla español.
The New Jersey Criminal Appeals Process
Criminal appeals can become extremely technical and complex, and all appellants (defendants) are strongly urged to retain experienced legal help before embarking on the process.
The first thing defendants must know is that the deadlines for filing a Notice of Appeal are extremely short, lasting mere weeks. These deadlines are determined by whether the original case was heard in municipal court or Superior Court as follows:
- Municipal Court (Misdemeanors/Disorderly Persons Offenses) – 20 days from the entry of judgment
- Superior Court (Felonies/Indictable Crimes) – 45 days from the entry of judgment
If you miss these deadlines, you will not be able to appeal, no matter how strong your case is. Therefore, it is extremely important that you contact our attorneys immediately, before you lose your legal recourse forever.
Once the Notice of Appeal has been filed and all of the necessary legal paperwork has been prepared or obtained, including briefs and court transcripts, you and your attorney will appear before the Appellate Division of the Superior Court to argue your case.
Appellants should be advised of the following fees:
- $250 filing fee to file the Notice of Appeal
- $50 filing fee to file a motion for leave to appeal
- $300 transcript fee for each full or partial day of the trial or hearing
These fees are mandated by the New Jersey Court Rules. However, it is possible to have your filing fees waived if you can establish indigent status.
What Happens if I Win My Appeal? What if I Lose?
It’s important to emphasize that an appeal is not a second trial. Instead, the purpose of appealing is to persuade the appellate court that there was a problem or mistake with the original verdict and subsequent conviction and/or sentence.
Unlike the original trial, where the burden of proof was on the prosecutor, the burden of proof during criminal appeals shifts instead to the appellant, who must prove that the lower court made an error. It is therefore absolutely crucial to be represented by a defense attorney who has experience handling criminal appeals and knows which points to raise.
As your attorneys, we will scrutinize every aspect of your original case for any harmful or fundamental errors which may have impacted the outcome of your trial. Your Constitutional rights to due process may have been violated, the judge may have made an improper decision, the jury may have been improperly instructed, or you may have received an unfair and excessive sentence based on the factors pertinent to your case. We will examine your case in depth to identify which issues may be raised in your defense.
If you lose your initial appeal, you may proceed through the remaining levels of the process until your options are exhausted. The process begins at the lowest level with appeals from municipal court to the Law Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey. The next level of appeal goes from the Law Division to the Appellate Division, as noted above. From there, the appellant can take the case to the Supreme Court of New Jersey. While rare, it is not impossible to appeal further still, going from the Supreme Court of New Jersey to the United States Supreme Court. It is important for appellants not to give up or get discouraged during this process.
If you win your appeal, a few different outcomes are possible, as described below:
- Your restitution order may be reversed and remanded.
- You may be given the opportunity to negotiate a favorable plea bargain.
- Your sentence may be modified.
- You may be released from jail or prison.
- The prosecutor may decide to retry the case.
- The prosecutor may decide to dismiss the charges.
It’s natural to feel exhausted and even skeptical after you’ve gone through the trial process, but a successful appeal can be the difference between freedom and imprisonment. Remember, the deadlines for appealing are extremely short and strict, so don’t wait to start seeking legal representation. To schedule a free consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 today.