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How Do Appeals Differ from Criminal Trials?

When a court finds you guilty of a crime, you have the right to appeal the decision. Appeals follow a very different procedure than criminal trials, and it is wise to consult experienced attorneys in Reno, NV who are well versed in handling appeals.

There are no intermediate appellate courts in Nevada, and the Nevada Supreme Court hears all Nevada appeals. Under the Nevada Rules of Appellate Procedure, the only appeal that is automatic is when a criminal court renders a death judgment. Otherwise, your attorney has a 30-day time limitation to file a notice of appeal with a Nevada state court and 10 days in which to file an appeal with a federal court. In a criminal trial for felony charges, the defendant has the right to a trial by peers, which consists of a 12-member jury. The criminal defense attorney appears before the jury and presents the main arguments of the case through an opening statement, cross-examination of the prosecution’s witnesses, admission of evidence, witness testimony and a closing argument. Both counsels can also enter motions that affect how the case is tried. By comparison, appeals are heard by a panel of three justices, which reviews all the trial transcripts and written records of the case as well as the briefs containing arguments presented by the appellate lawyer. The determinations the court can make in an appeal regarding the previous court’s decision are one of the following:

  • Reversal
  • Affirmation
  • Modification of the judgment
  • New trial

Typically, appellate lawyers argue the case through written briefs rather than oral arguments. In some appeals, the court may allow both counsels to present a very brief oral argument.

Criminal appeal lawyers in Reno, NV require different skill sets than trial lawyers, and they must be exceptional in framing convincing arguments and highly knowledgeable in case law.

The Law Office of David R. Houston brings three decades of criminal law experience to every case we handle, in addition to our extensive knowledge of appellate law.

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