Being arrested on a criminal charge is a frightening experience. If you’ve been arrested and then convicted it is considerably worse. When your time in court is said and done, and the judge has rendered a guilty verdict, it may be time for you to make an appeal.

When you’ve been found guilty of a criminal charge, an appeal is your second chance at freedom. Freedom from possible jail time, heavy fines, losing your license and many other penalties. It is important to understand that you are not guaranteed an appeal, and the appeal is not a completely new trial; it could be the second chance you need though.

When may you appeal?

You are not always entitled to an appeal solely because you were found guilty in trial court. To move to an appellate court, or court of appeals, there must be a legal basis to review the case. Every case is different, but common reasons you may appeal include:

If any of these apply to you, or think that an aspect of your trial was unlawful or inappropriate, speak to an experienced appellate attorney as soon as possible. You have constitutional rights that must be observed. Don’t lose them due to an oversight.

How do appeals work?

Should you decide to appeal, your lawyer will file a “notice to appeal”. You and your attorney will then have the opportunity to present a brief argument explaining your legal argument of why you deserve a second trial. The appellate court will decide whether or not these reasons are valid, and deny or grant you a second chance at your case.

Understand that if your appeal is granted, you are not being given a new trial or a retrial. By going to an appellate court, you are asserting that there were errors in your initial court trial which were responsible for your conviction. This is your chance to rectify these errors and potentially change the verdict.

Each case is different and you may not have the option to appeal your case should you be found guilty of a criminal charge. It does not hurt to speak to an attorney who specializes in appellate court, though. They may be the lifeline you need if you think that your case was mishandled.