Georgia Criminal Appeals Attorney

Georgia law provides criminal defendants the opportunity to challenge their conviction. The appeals process entitles you to a second chance in the event that the trial court committed an error in your case. To appeal a criminal case in Georgia, you need a criminal defense lawyer that’s prepared to take your case to the next level. At Fennell, Briasco & Associates™, our team of defense attorneys has decades of combined experience arguing in Georgia appellate courts, including the Georgia Court of Appeals and Georgia Supreme Court. If you have been recently convicted of a crime in Georgia, you may have time to file an appeal. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

Do I have the right to appeal a criminal case?

Yes. Georgia law provides defendants the right to appeal any final decision issued by a superior court, state court, or municipal court in a criminal proceeding. Criminal defendants have the right to appeal any major issue in the case, including the sentence, judge’s ruling, or jury instructions. Though you do have the right to an appeal, the law does not entitle you to a reversal of the lower court’s decision. The right to appeal only provides the defendant with an opportunity to petition a higher court for review. Appeals can be complex. They often involve complicated questions of criminal law, Georgia criminal procedure, and evidence. To understand this vast body of criminal appellate law, the attorneys at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ have dedicated their professional lives to helping clients throughout Georgia.

How long do you have to file a criminal appeal?

Under Georgia law, you must file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the entry of the judgment by the trial court. The trial court may grant the defendant an extension of up to 30 additional days to file the appeal. If you do not file an appeal in Georgia within 30 days (or the additional 30-day extension period), then your right to appeal the case expires.
Balance of Law

What are the stages of a criminal appeal in Georgia?

The appellate process in Georgia involves three levels of courts. To understand how Georgia criminal appeals work, you need a quick overview of how each level plays a role in the appeals process.

Trial Court: The trial court is where the majority of the action takes place in a criminal case. The trial court is where the criminal justice system engages in “fact-finding,” meaning that the trial court has the primary responsibility of gathering up all the important facts and evidence in the case. At trial, the parties present evidence to the courtroom, interview witnesses, and argue in front of the jury. The trial judge plays an active role in directing the trial and making decisions about the admission or exclusion of evidence. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury renders a verdict and the judge enters a final decision in the case. Criminal trials usually take place in Georgia superior courts, which are operated at the county level. For some misdemeanor crimes (like traffic offenses, DUIs, or minor drug crimes), the trial may also take place in municipal courts, state courts, or juvenile courts.

Georgia Court of Appeals: When you appeal a decision from a criminal trial in Georgia, the Georgia Court of Appeals is the next level to hear your case. The Georgia Court of Appeals is the intermediate court in the Georgia legal system. The Georgia Court of Appeals is split up into five divisions across the state of Georgia, with a total of 15 judges. During an appeal, the appellate court does not conduct a new trial or hear new evidence. Instead, it is the job of the Court of Appeals to assess whether the lower court made an error in analyzing or applying the law.

Georgia Supreme Court: The final step in the criminal appeals process is the Georgia Supreme Court. The Georgia Supreme Court is a single body located in Atlanta, Georgia with a total of nine judges (called “Justices”). The Georgia Supreme Court does not hear every case. In fact, it hears less than 10% of all cases that are petitioned for review each year. You do not have a right to have your case heard by the Georgia Supreme Court. The Georgia Supreme Court will only hear a case if it chooses to issue a “writ of certiorari.” At Fennell, Briasco & Associates™, our attorneys have experience arguing before the Georgia Supreme Court, setting us within a unique class of criminal defense attorneys.

How do you file a criminal appeal in Georgia?

To begin an appeal of a criminal case, a party must first file a notice of appeal with the clerk of the trial court. For a proper filing, the notice of appeal must include a wide range of information required by law, like the name of the appellate court, the names of the parties, and a brief statement about the criminal offense and sentence. The parties must also include a transcript of the trial court proceedings and an enumeration of errors, in which the appealing party must describe the grounds for seeking an appeal. It is important to note that the procedure involved in filing a Georgia criminal appeal can be complex. For this technical area of law, most legal experts suggest consulting an attorney.

Can you appeal a DUI case in Georgia?

Yes. If found guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) in Georgia, you are entitled to an appeal in your case. Every year, hundreds of criminal defendants in DUI cases file appeals, seeking the appellate courts to overturn their convictions. DUI appeals often involve complex areas of law, like the use of breathalyzer evidence and the constitutional powers of police to search automobiles.

Can I overturn my criminal conviction or sentence?

A successful appeal must involve an error committed by the lower court in interpreting or applying the law. There are many grounds for potentially overturning or dismissing a conviction against a criminal defendant, including:

(i) Improper Jury Instructions: at the conclusion of trial, the judge must provide brief instructions to the jury about the charges against the defendant. If the judge’s instructions include incorrect statements of law, then the trial court’s decision may be overturned or overruled.

(ii) Inadmissible Evidence: when police or law enforcement obtain evidence illegally, the evidence must be excluded by the court. If such evidence is admitted, the court of appeals may reverse the decision on constitutional grounds.

(iii) Incorrect Sentencing: the Georgia Criminal Code has a complex statutory scheme that matches certain offenses to sentencing guidelines. If the court misapplies these sentencing guidelines and issues a punishment against the defendant that is disproportionately harsh, the court of appeals may overrule the sentence issued by the trial court.

(iv) Jury or Judicial Misconduct: in the event that the judge or jury improperly considered extemporaneous or prejudicial factors in a criminal case, a defendant may seek review in a Georgia appellate court to resolve allegations of jury or judicial misconduct.

What is a motion for a new trial?

Criminal defendants have multiple avenues for post-conviction relief under Georgia law. In addition to appeals, parties may also have grounds to submit a “motion for a new trial.” A motion for a new trial is basically the defendant’s way of asking the trial court to start over from the beginning of the trial. There are many potential bases for a motion for a new trial. Most commonly, a new trial may be granted if the parties discover new, previously unobtained evidence. Later-obtained evidence can shift the momentum in a criminal case. If the motion for a new trial is granted, the trial court may dismiss the previous decision and retry the case.


Find A Georgia Criminal Appeals Attorney

A criminal case isn’t over when the jury issues a guilty verdict. The appeals process in Georgia offers criminal defendants the right to seek review of legal decisions. The attorneys at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ offer skilled representation in appellate criminal matters. Our team is adept at arguing before Georgia appellate courts in defense of our clients. To learn more about potential options for appealing or retrying a DUI or criminal case, contact our team today.



(770) 956-4030