Federal Criminal Appeals
This page explains how federal criminal appeals work and answers basic questions about federal criminal appeals.
Before we get to the details of these appeals, please know that if you're going to appeal, make sure you file a notice of appeal
If you are going to appeal a federal criminal case, the very first thing you should do is file a notice of appeal. You have only 14 days to file a notice of appeal from when sentence is imposed. If you know that you want to appeal, do not wait to hire a lawyer to file the notice of appeal.
There is one exception to this. If you got a particularly good sentence, well below what the government was asking for, you may cause the federal prosecutor to file a cross-appeal if you appeal. If that happens, you could wind up with a harsher sentence after the appeal.
Here's a link to the form you can use from the District of Maryland (note, you'll have to change the Court name if your appeal is in a different court, and you may have to change the name of the appeals court – call the U.S. District Court Clerk's office if you have questions): Notice of Appeal in pdf and Notice of Appeal in Word. If you know that you want to appeal, you should file the notice immediately.
If you've just been found guilty:
If you came here because you, or a loved one, have just been convicted of federal charges, you should probably start by watching this video about what to do if you've just been convicted in federal court.
Other answers to frequent questions about federal criminal appeals:
The odds of winning on an appeal may not be great. That said, almost every business day I write about someone who won a federal criminal appeal at the Federal Criminal Appeals Blog.