6400 Delta Dr.
El Paso, TX 79905
A person convicted of a crime has the constitutional right to appeal the conviction to a higher court. On appeal, the higher court reviews the written record of what was said (the testimony) and the physical evidence at the trial, and decides of there was a mistake, or error in what happened. If someone cannot afford to hire an attorney to represent him or her on the direct appeal, the constitution requires the court appoint a lawyer. The Eighth District Court of Appeals here in El Paso decides appeals for all criminal convictions out of the courts in El Paso County except capital murder cases where the defendant was sentenced to death. All Death Penalty cases are appealed directly to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
What to Expect
If you want to appeal your conviction or sentence, a Notice of Appeal must be filed with the appellate court within 30 days from the date the judge imposed the sentence. If our office did not represent you at trial, then your trial attorney can file the necessary paperwork on your behalf. You should discuss pursuing an appeal with your trial attorney as soon as possible. If you had court-appointed counsel during your trial proceedings, and your trial lawyer does not do appellate work, then you should tell both your lawyer AND the court that you want a court-appointed appellate lawyer to handle your appeal. It is important not to wait more than 30 days after your sentence before contacting your attorney and the court and telling them you want to appeal.
Once your Notice of Appeal is filed, the official court reporter will type up what happened in your case. This includes what the witnesses said, the lawyers’ arguments, and what the judge said. The court reporter will send an electronic transcript to the clerk’s office. The clerk will send the both transcript from the court reporter and the official record, with the papers filed in the case, to the appellate court and the parties’ attorneys.
Once an appellate attorney is assigned to your case, he or she will contact you, review the transcript and other records, and write an Appellant’s Brief on your behalf, presenting legal issues in the appeal. After the brief is filed in your case, the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office will respond, filing an Appellee’s Brief.
Appellate cases are very different from trial cases. Three judges, rather than a judge and jury, will decide your case. An appeal is not a new trial. Your appellate attorney cannot present new evidence for the first time on appeal and must rely on the official record of the trial court proceedings. The appellate court decides only legal issues and will not reconsider the case facts or determine the credibility of witnesses. While there are strict deadlines, there are no court dates; the Court arguments are presented in the written briefs. It usually takes, at a minimum, one year after the briefs are filed for the appellate court to decide the appeal.
Under certain circumstances, the trial court may grant a bond while your case is on appeal. This typically does not happen in felony cases, and is not allowed in cases where sentence was 10 years or more in prison. Motions for appellate bonds are usually filed by the trial attorney but our appellate lawyers can file them as well. The set bond amount is generally much higher than pre-trial bonds. If you post bond, you will remain out of custody until the direct appeal is final, unless you violate the conditions of your bond. If you lose your appeal, you will begin serving your sentence.