Direct Appeal of a Florida Criminal Conviction and Sentence
Upon conclusion of sentencing, a defendant is able to seek direct appellate review of his conviction and sentence by filing a Notice of Appeal within 30 days. This notice serves to alert the clerk of the court and the District Court of Appeal that the defendant wishes to challenge and seek a determination by an appellate court as to the validity of the judgment and sentence received. After filing a Designations and Directions outlining the necessary documents that need to be included in the Record on Appeal that the appellate court will need to conduct an accurate review and make a determination, the defendant, now defendant-appellant, will file an initial brief in the District Court of Appeal, pointing to specifically preserved instances of error in the record that invalidate the defendant-appellant’s conviction or sentence.
In order to produce an effective brief, the record must be meticulously reviewed and suspected errors must be vigorously researched. Once the issues are determined and researched, they must then be presented in a manner that is concise and clear in order to allow the appellate court a chance to see the violations of a defendant-appellant’s rights during the proceedings in the lower court. Following the filing of the defendant-appellant’s initial brief, the State will be given the opportunity to file its answer brief in order to address the grounds raised by the defendant-appellant. The defendant-appellant will then be given an additional opportunity to explain the merits of the grounds raised in the initial brief through the filing of a reply brief in response to the State’s answer brief.
Once the appellate court is in possession of these opposing briefs, it is possible it will request, or possibly at the request of the defendant-appellant, an oral argument in order to assist in fleshing out the arguments found within the provided briefs. In conclusion, the appellate court will make a determination and issue its opinion, followed by a mandate formally issuing the court’s order.
The direct appeal marks the defendant’s first opportunity to truly challenge the determination of the lower court. Although other avenues for relief exist, dependent upon what is raised on direct appeal, a defendant may be foreclosed from raising certain issues further down the road of appellate review. It is imperative that appellate representation is obtained in order to not only strategically attack the proceedings of the lower court, but to protect the continued appellate rights of a defendant that he or she may not raise for several years.
For further information related to appealing your Florida conviction and sentence or how Foundation Legal can assist you, please contact us.