What is a Criminal Appeal?

A criminal defendant is entitled to an appeal of their trial court convictions (i.e., a direct appeal). Sometimes the prosecution or the defense can appeal an adverse criminal trial court decision before the time of trial (i.e., an interlocutory appeal). Finally, there is the indirect appeal, which challenges a trial court decision made after the direct appeal (e.g., a post-direct appeal criminal motion for a new trial denied by the trial court).

Massachusetts has a two-tiered appellate court system. Both appellate courts are housed in the John Adams Courthouse, located in downtown Boston.

The "lower" tier appellate court is the Appeals Court, which deicides the majority of all state court appeals. Each appeal is typically heard and decided by a panel of three Appeals Court judges.

The "higher" tier appellate court is the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), which is the state court of last resort. The SJC decides all first degree murder cases and can claim for itself, directly or by allowing a petition for direct appellate review, any appeal currently in the Appeals Court.

Once the Appeals Court decides an appeal, an aggrieved party may petition the SJC for further appellate review. A case must be decided by the SJC in some manner, even by the denial of a petition for further appellate review, in order to seek federal relief.

An appeal is a review of the proceedings in the lower court, typically the criminal trial court, to ensure that the correct law was applied and that the proceedings were fair. An appeal is not a retrial. No new evidence is considered on appeal unless present via a denied post-conviction trial court motion (e.g., a criminal motion for a new trial).

Massachusetts Criminal Appeal Lawyer

Attorney William (Bill) Driscoll answers the question, What is an Appeal? You may also review the many types of criminal appeals and decisions performed by Attorney Driscoll.

Attorney Driscoll will explain the law as it applies to your situation. He will work with you every step of the way. There is too much at stake to go it alone. To learn more about the law and how Bill can help you, contact Attorney Driscoll.