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Appeals with Petit & Dommershausen-Part 1

“What to Expect When You File a Criminal Case Appeal: A Bird’s Eye View”


Part 1: Getting Started

If you have been convicted of a crime and you feel that there was an error in the legal process, you may want to appeal.  The grounds for appeal are extremely varied and not every case has appealable issues.  This post is not intended to help you decide whether your case has appellate issues, but to help clarify a process that can be confusing.

If your criminal case concluded with the court imposing a sentence or placing you on probation, your trial attorney will go through a form after the hearing called a “Notice of Right to Seek Post Conviction Relief.” This document notifies you of your right to appeal and your trial attorney’s duty to file the notice if you wish to exercise that right.


The appeal itself will begin with filing a “Notice of Intent to Pursue Post-Conviction Relief.”  This notice needs to be filed within 20 days of the date your conviction is entered if you wish to appeal your case. This means that you should either tell your attorney the day you are sentenced that you wish to appeal, or if you are undecided and end up wanting to appeal you should reach your conclusion quickly as your trial attorney will need to prepare certain documents.


After you file your notice, you will either proceed “pro se” (on your own behalf), with counsel you have retained privately, or if you cannot afford a lawyer but want one the State Public Defender’s Office will have one appointed.  The transcripts of each of your court appearances will then be prepared and the court file will be sent to your attorney.  It takes time for these materials to be prepared so patience is necessary. Once your appellate attorney has either been retained or appointed, they will need to get your trial attorney’s file.  This often requires a written authorization that you must sign which permits your trial attorney to hand over your file to the appellate attorney.

A blog post prepared by Attorney Scott Engstrom.

In our next post we will discuss the process of investigating and analyzing your case once appellate counsel has gotten involved.