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Filing an Appeal in Massachusetts

MA Criminal Appeals Lawyer / Boston Criminal Appeals

A criminal case doesn’t necessarily end with the verdict. If you’ve recently been convicted of a crime in Massachusetts, you have the right to file an appeal. Maybe your trial attorney failed to advise you of your immigration consequences prior to agreeing to a plea, or maybe the judge made an error that deprived you of a fair trial. There are many different reasons that might give rise to an appeal.

You only have 30 days from the disposition date to file your appeal, although extensions can sometimes be granted. The Appeals Court, as well as the Supreme Judicial Court, has the ability to affirm or reverse your conviction, reduce the sentence, or order a new trial.  [Certain claims may be better made outside of the appeals process, like a motion for new trial or motion to vacate your plea.  Those claims typically go back to the trial court.]

The Appeals Court will first review the transcript from your trial, including the arguments presented by each side. The Court will look for legal errors, mistakes, or oversights. An appeal can also be successful where that is newly discovered evidence, ineffective legal representation, or a violation of your rights.

To start the process, a notice of appeal is filed with the Appeals Court. Next, we review the record, including the transcript from the trial, write a brief outlining the facts and law relevant to your case. The brief contains an argument in support of your position, by utilizing the facts and analyzing the applicable laws involved. The Appeals Court may then schedule a date to hear oral arguments. In some specific cases, such as first-degree murder convictions, the Appeals Court is bypassed in favor of the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC).  In all other cases, we have the option of petitioning the Supreme Judicial Court to take jurisdiction of the case, or simply allowing the appeal to proceed to the Appeals Court.

After the Appeals Court – or SJC – receives our brief, the other side gets to file a response.  Depending on the contents of their response, we may decide to file a reply brief in order to address those claims.  Eventually, most cases are scheduled for oral argument.  At the oral argument, we get a chance to present our case to a panel of three Appeals Court justices.  These hearings can be quite helpful in addressing questions, and further driving home our arguments.  Generally a few months after oral argument, the Appeals Court will issue a written decision.

If you are considering an appeal of your case in Boston, or anywhere in Massachusetts, you need a strong advocate on your side.  We have helped numerous people achieve successful outcomes in the appellate process.  Contact us today at (781) 797-0555 for a free telephone consultation.
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