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The federal crime appeals process in California

Losing a case in federal court can be soul-crushing. The penalties imposed can be daunting, to say the least, and the individual's family can be just as disheartened. The loss can seem to suck the hope out of a Californian's life. Nonetheless, he or she should remain strong because he or she may have a second chance to argue his or her position.

Federal cases that are appealed are usually heard, meaning that defendants and their attorneys will have an opportunity to be heard. The time to present one's argument, though, is significantly shorter. It is typically limited to 15 minutes, and the decision of the Court of Appeals, in most instances is final.

If an individual's case is heard on appeal, then he or she needs to be extremely prepared with compelling legal arguments to stand a chance at having the lower court's ruling overturned. In the event that an individual loses on appeal, he or she can still seek to have the case heard by the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the likelihood of that happening is slim.

On appeal, an individual can certainly challenge whether his or her conviction was justified, but he or she can also argue that the penalties imposed were too harsh. Therefore, success at the appellate level can take many forms and range widely in terms of impact on the individual's post-case life.

It is always hoped that trial courts will be fair in rendering judgment, but that is not always the case. Nonetheless, to preserve issues on appeal, a criminal defendant must raise the issue during the initial trial. So, anyone facing federal crime allegations may want to seek immediate legal counsel, and the same certainly holds true for those who are attempting to appeal a conviction or a sentence.

Source: USCourts.gov, "Appeals," accessed on Feb. 19, 2016

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