Appealing a criminal conviction in Colorado

Criminal defendants in Colorado dissatisfied with a trial result may request a higher court review of their case. Appeals courts have three options once they agree to review a case. The possible outcomes include upholding or reversing the original decision. An appeals court can also send the case back to the lower court.

Appeals court structure

The Colorado District Court is responsible for reviewing appeals of county court decisions. The state Court of Appeals reviews decisions made by the district court. The appeals court refers to defendants that file appeals requests as appellants. The party fighting against an appeal becomes the respondent. It is important to note that prosecutors sometimes appeal court decisions and become the appellant in these cases. Another important fact is that the appeals court process does not represent a new trial for the defendant. The appeals court will conduct a limited case review to ensure nothing happened during a trial that put the appellant at an unfair disadvantage.

Basis of appeal

Criminal law statutes require appeals requests to identify a specific reason for the appeal. Reasons for appeal include:

  • Procedural errors
  • Incorrect instructions given to the jury
  • Judicial errors
  • Misconduct by prosecutors
  • Wrongly-applied laws
  • Time requirements

Defendants can file a Notice of Appeal within 35 days of a lower court decision. This time limit applies to all paperwork involved with the process. This district attorney must also receive a designation of record and notice of appeal before this deadline expires. The defendant has 21 days after filing the Notice of Appeal to submit opening briefs to the district attorney and the district court with jurisdiction over the appeal.

Individuals entering the appeals court process will encounter a complex area of the law when they have a lot riding on the outcome. Appellants might improve their chances of a favorable outcome if they include an attorney in every part of the process.