In all cases, the defendant has the right to an appeal after sentencing. In some cases where a defendant has pled guilty, he may have waived the right to appeal certain issues. However, even in these cases, a defendant has the right to appeal at least some issues to the appellate court.

The Appeals Process

In order to appeal a conviction, the defendant must file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the date he was sentenced. An attorney is not under an obligation to file an appeal unless the defendant has requested that he do so. The appellate attorney will order a transcript of the trial, hearing or plea proceeding in order to prepare a written brief that includes all of the arguments in the appeal. Once the brief is submitted to the appellate court, the prosecutor responds with a brief and the appellate attorneys may be asked to make an oral argument.

There are only two grounds on which a sentence may be appealed. First, the sentence is invalid as a matter of law. For example, the defendant received a longer sentence due to a prior conviction, but there was actually no prior conviction. Second, the defendant claims that the sentence was harsh or excessive. The defendant may request that he be released from prison pending the decision of the appellate court, which is known as an application for a stay of execution of sentence. Persons convicted of Class A felonies may not request a stay. In some cases, the prosecutor may appeal the decision in the case. This is known as a People’s appeal. In this case if the People are successful, the charges may be reinstated and the case returned to the trial court so the prosecution can proceed. The prosecutor may not appeal an acquittal.

Possible Outcomes of an Appeal

Affirmance: The appellate court upholds the conviction, finding that guilt was proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a fair trial was received, or that the guilty plea was properly taken. Defendants have a limited right to seek a further appeal in the New York State Court of Appeals. However, the Court of Appeals may refuse to review the case or affirm the conviction.

Reversal: The appellate court may reverse the conviction. Following a reversal, the case may be dismissed, the guilty plea may be vacated, or a new trial or hearing may be ordered.

Modification: The appellate court may change the sentence or charge and/or may return the case to a trial court to have a hearing on specific issues in the case.