Direct Criminal Appeals from Trials and Pleas

Most of our cases are direct appeals of felony convictions, which are decided by the Appellate Division, Second Department. We also represent some clients on their appeals of misdemeanor convictions, which are heard by the Appellate Term, Second Department.

Appellate Advocates has won more than 1,100 direct appeals in the Appellate Division, resulting in dismissed indictments, new trials, modified convictions, or sentence reductions.

The direct appeal process begins when Appellate Advocates is assigned by the appellate court to represent an individual who has been convicted of a crime after a trial or a guilty plea and who cannot afford an attorney. 

Once our office has received from the court the transcripts and related paperwork, each client is assigned an attorney who will review the trial court file.  The attorney, in consultation with the client, will select an issue or issues to raise on appeal. The attorney will submit a brief raising those appellate claims to the court. After the attorney submits the brief, the client will have the opportunity to request permission to file a supplemental pro se brief to the court.

A few months after the brief is filed, the District Attorney files a responding brief. The case is then placed on the court’s calendar for argument or submission. 

A panel of judges reviews each case and issues a decision. Depending on the issues raised, a favorable decision could be reversal of the conviction and dismissal of the charges, a reversal of the conviction and a new trial, a reduction of the sentence, or the granting of some other type of relief. If the court reverses a conviction and dismisses the indictment, the attorney will facilitate the client’s release from custody (if applicable) and the clearing of his or her record. If a new trial is ordered, the attorney will turn the case over to a trial attorney.

In the event the decision is not favorable to the client, the attorney will request leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York State. If the Court of Appeals grants leave, the attorney will submit a new brief to that Court and argue the client’s case in Albany, New York.