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How Often Are Appeals Successful?

When a defendant is found guilty, he or she can sometimes appeal the decision in appellate court. Though an appeal is not the same as another trial, nor does it have to result in another trial, it can be pursued to point out possible errors made during the first trial.

An appeal simply asks for another examination of certain information that was already used in the case.

In some instances, courts approve the appeal and the case may return to court for a second trial. In other cases, a court approves the appeal and as a result, the conviction is reversed or the sentence is changed.

Even still, in other situations, an appeal is not successful and the court upholds the original conviction and sentencing.

The question, “how often are appeals successful,” will be examined and answered later in this article.

What Does (and Doesn’t) an Appeal Do?

Before explaining the purpose and capabilities of an appeal, let us first determine who can and cannot file an appeal.

A defendant in a civil or criminal case has the right to appeal a guilty verdict. The government, however, does not have the right to appeal a defendant’s “not guilty” verdict. The government or plaintiff side of the criminal case may appeal the sentence imposed after a guilty verdict has been handed down.

That said, an appeal does not automatically throw out a verdict or change a determined sentence. Instead, an appeal reviews the way the court has applied the law in the case. Because it is not automatically a new trial, there is no jury, no witnesses, or new forms of evidence. The court simply examines the facts as they were presented, and determines whether those facts go against the evidence taken into account.

Once an appeal is complete, the result is most often final. That is unless the case goes back to court for another trial or the parties ask a higher court to review the case.

Would you like to read about: The Criminal Justice System with Appellate Lawyers in Dallas

For What Reason Can a Defendant Appeal?

Appeal grounds may vary depending on which state the case is held in, but there are several common reasons a defendant can cite in order to appeal their case’s ruling.

  • The facts and evidence go against the judge’s decision.
    Usually, a ruling is based on the evidence and facts established during the trial. If a judge does not rule based on facts and good reason, it may present a good cause for an appeal.
  • The judge has abused power.
    If a judge acts in a way that is beyond the court’s discretion and this action affects the judge’s ruling, it may be grounds for an appeal. For example, if a judge “weighs” one piece of evidence over another, and that weight is questionable, a defendant may be able to appeal the possible abuse of discretion.
  • The judge has committed a legal error.
    It’s possible for judges to make mistakes. If a judge applies the wrong legal standard to a case, such as using legal requirements for the wrong state, the defendant likely has a good reason to appeal the court’s decision.

Of course, there may be other factors to consider when determining whether a defendant has a good reason to appeal a case, but the above-mentioned reasons are the ones called into question most often.

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How Often Are Appeals Successful?

The short answer to, “how often are appeals successful,” is typically, “not often.”

Most of the time, appeals are a long shot, meaning that they do not often end in favor of the party calling for the appeal.

It’s difficult to put a number on how many appeals are successful, but many court professionals estimate that fewer than one appeal out of 10 ends in favor of the appealing party.

When questioning, “how often are appeals successful,” it’s important to consider a few things about the nature of civil and criminal appeals.

Usually, appeals do not present enough information to change the outcome of the case, meaning that the appealing party fails to sufficiently point out any wrongdoing on the court’s behalf.

It can be generally assumed that courts and legal professionals conduct cases in a manner that complies with state and federal requirements.

Therefore it is difficult to prove that the judge abused power, made a mistake, or went against evidence. Most of the time, he or she complied with the law to the fullest possible extent.

It should be noted when considering how often are appeals successful, it isn’t impossible to have a successful appeal. For individuals who are facing a significant sentence, it may very well be worth re-examining the facts and evidence.

When asking yourself, “how often are criminal appeals successful,” it’s good to follow up with, “how often do appeals qualify for approval?”

Some instances that result in a successful appeal include:

  • Misconduct from jurors
  • Poor jury instruction
  • Improper admission of evidence
  • Lack of evidence to support the ruling
  • Receiving poor legal counsel

If you’re wondering, “how often are appeals successful,” because you’re concerned about your own case, it’s important to work with your legal counsel carefully to ensure that you’re presenting viable evidence.

The court’s purpose during the appeal process is to determine whether errors were made during the trial, so it is in an appellant’s (the party filing the appeal) best interest to thoroughly present the information being questioned.

Would you like to read about: Role of a criminal appeal lawyer in presenting your case in Orlando

What Does a Successful Appeal Look Like?

In addition to asking, “how often are appeals successful,” you may want to ask yourself, “how often are planning appeals successful?”

Most of the time, during the planning process, a defendant’s team finds that they do not have a viable reason to file an appeal, so it’s crucial to plan for success.

For your best chance of success, make sure that the following conditions are met.

  1. You have reliable counsel representing you (one who understands and has experience in appeals).
  2. Your attorney fully reviews the Record on Appeal (the more thorough the review, the more likely it is that valid evidence will be located).
  3. Your attorney prepares and files an appeal brief.
  4. Your attorney provides a convincing oral argument that clearly lists errors that were made during the duration of your case.

Appealing your conviction and sentence before a court and hearing your attorney’s answer to, “how often are court appeals successful,” may make you feel nervous and discouraged.

However, if a mistake has been made, an experienced appellate attorney will find it and present it to the court to the best of his or her ability.

If you have a good reason for your appeal, you are very likely to be a part of the small percentage of successful cases. This is not to say that you’re guaranteed to get a new trial or changed sentence, but a successful appeal opens the door to those possibilities.

For more thorough, accurate, and informative answers to the question, “how often are appeals successful,” it’s in your best interest to speak one-on-one with a Brownstone Law experienced appellate attorney.

By carefully going over your case, a professional can help you determine whether you have a viable reason to file an appeal, as well as the likelihood of succeeding during the process.

It’s always best to work with an attorney who understands the appeal process and knows how to present oral arguments during an appeal.

The appeal process is often a misunderstood and complicated road for a defendant to venture down. The most important steps to take is ensuring you’ve got an experienced appellate attorney who’s well aware of the reasons for appeal approval and can present your case in a straightforward manner.


Federal Appeal Lawyers In Antitrust
Author Name
Robert L Sirianni
(888) 233-8895
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