Whether you pled guilty or were found guilty after trial, there are several considerations that control whether you can – or should – file an appeal of a Law Division conviction.
Where Does the Appeal Get Filed?
The appeal is filed with the Appellate Division of the NJ Superior Court in Trenton. The appeal will then be assigned to a group of Judges that does not include the Judge who handled your case. The appeal may be heard in Trenton, or in an Appellate Court handling cases from the County where your conviction occurred.
Meeting the Filing Deadline
You have 45-Days within which to ‘FILE’ the appeal. This means that the Appellate Division must have the appeal in their hands no later than the 45th day, not that you put it in the mail by the 45th day. There is a possibility (which you should not count on getting) that you can get a 30-day extension of the filing deadline, but it is not automatically granted. If you miss the 45-day filing deadline you may lose your right to file an appeal.
How Do you Establish the Defect You are Appealing?
You are claiming that the Judge made a mistake during the proceedings that resulted in your conviction. The fact that the mistake occurred and what led up to it is based on what is in the transcripts of those proceedings. It is very rare for the Appellate Division to agree to have further evidentiary hearings where additional testimony is taken. Whatever issues you want to raise in the appeal must have been raised and argued in the Law Division, with that Judge deciding the issue in a way that was in error.
Filing a Brief and Oral Argument
Both you and the State will file a brief setting out the legal issues you are raising, and the legal support for the Appellate Division to rule that a mistake of law did occur. Once the briefs are filed, you need to file a request for oral argument if you think that there are additional comments that would help the Court understand why they should grant the appeal. If no request for oral argument is made, the Appellate Division will decide the case based on the arguments raised in the briefs.
If you are considering whether to file an appeal, consult immediately with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to determine what your deadline is, what issues can be raised, and your options for filing the appeal. Call Howard Bailey at 973-982-1200 for a free consultation before you make any decisions on what to do.