If you lost your case in Maryland state or federal court and believe there were legal missteps along the way, you have a right to appeal the outcome. While you cannot appeal simply because you disagree with the outcome, an appeals attorney may be able to find a material error in the proceedings that would allow you to challenge the decision in the appeals court.
For a free case review and more information on the appeals process, call Hecht & Associates today at 301-587-2099. We can analyze your trial and ensure you received fair treatment in the courtroom. If the attorneys or the judge did not follow the letter of the law, we can help you appeal the verdict and fight for a retrial.
What types of cases does the appeals court handle?
While you have the right to appeal to a higher court in either a civil or a criminal case, you must have a legal basis for filing this appeal. The grounds for an appeal include:
- Errors of fact
- Legal missteps
- Procedural issues
- Failure of due process
Where do I file my appeal?
Where you file your appeal depends on what court previously heard your case. Typically, the next highest court hears your appeal. This means:
- Cases heard in District Court appeal to Circuit Court
- Cases heard in Circuit Court appeal to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals
If the Maryland Court of Special Appeals hears your case and you believe it also overlooked the missteps in your original trial, there is another level. You may be able to your case to Maryland’s Court of Appeals — the top court in the state.
It is important to note that while you can appeal to this top court, it hears cases through a process known as certiorari. This process allows it to choose which cases it wants to hear, and getting on the docket is extremely difficult. Often your case will either need to involve a ubiquitous question of the law or a death sentence to reach The Court of Appeals.
Note: If you lost a case in federal court, you are also entitled to appeal this decision. Typically, you file the appeal with the Federal Court of Appeals.
What is the appeals process like?
After a court hands down a decision, you have a limited amount of time to file a Notice of Appeal with the next highest court. Following this notice, you must file a brief outlining why you believe another court should grant you a retrial or take other action.
Many people incorrectly believe that an appeal is similar to a retrial. However, it is rare that an appeals court hears any evidence related to your original case.
Instead, the appeals court focuses on the legal proceedings that took place in the lower court. This means that your written brief will also focus on the evidence to support the claim that the court/your attorney mishandled your original trial in some way.
Having a Maryland appeals attorney write this brief is paramount, because some appeals courts base their decision solely on this document. Others listen to the brief oral arguments of attorneys from each side before making a decision.
What kinds of decisions do appeals courts make?
While the Appeals Court has a difficult job, it essentially makes only one decision. It is up to the court to determine if there was an error of the law that hurt your chances of winning your case. If so, this is a reversible error.
It is important to remember that, while an appellate court will reverse a trial court’s verdict if there was a legal problem during the original trial, not every error of law requires a reversal. The court may overlook a minor legal misstep that had no effect on the outcome of the case and simply affirm the previous judgment.
If the appeals court decides to reverse the previous judgment, it will typically send it back to the lower court. This can lead to a number of different outcomes, including:
- A new trial
- A modified verdict
- Consideration of additional evidence
- Application of a new view of the law based on the appellate court decision
How can an attorney help me through the appeals process?
If you received a judgment that you feel is unfair, it pays to consult with a Maryland appeals attorney as soon as possible. The time you have to file an appeal is short, and it will take time for a lawyer to review your case and determine where there were legal or procedural mistakes made.
An appeals attorney can help you by assessing your situation to determine if you have enough to warrant an appeal, and to represent you through the appeals process. The attorneys at Hecht & Associates always begin by carefully evaluating the merits of an appeal. We understand that the appeals process is often expensive, but we believe it is well worth the expense if you have a strong case and a lot to lose.
Even if you managed to navigate your original trail on your own, you will need a Maryland lawyer who is familiar with the appellate process to handle your appeal.
Because an appeal — by its very nature — centers around a complex legal argument, you need an attorney on your side who works with this type of case frequently. We do not recommend you try to file an appeal on your own. Instead, call Hecht & Associates.
How can I contact Hecht & Associates?
Hecht & Associates is here to answer your questions about the Maryland appeals process, and discuss the potential merit of appealing a decision made by a state or federal court. We handle cases at all levels of the appellate process in Maryland, including both civil and criminal cases.
If a Maryland court’s mistake cost you the case, we will stand up for your rights. Call us today at 301-587-2099 to schedule an initial consultation to learn more about how we can help you.