You or your loved one have been convicted of a crime in Illinois. The trial has uprooted your life, and the outcome is devastating. In such an overwhelming and unfamiliar circumstance, you're probably wondering, "Is this the end? What can I do now? Who do I talk to?"
You have the option of filing an appeal. If you have questions about the steps you can take in this situation, then keep reading. In this article, we'll be covering what an appeal is, how to file one, and who to go to for help.
Filing an Appeal
If your loved one has been convicted of a crime, you have the option to file an "appeal." When you appeal a criminal case, you ask another court (the Appellate Court) to take a second look at the case.
Protect Your Right to Appeal By Filing a Notice of Appeal
Before you decide if you would like to file an appeal, you must protect your right to do so by filing a "Notice of Appeal." The "Notice of Appeal" is a very important document that gives the second court permission to take a second look at your case. The "Notice of Appeal" also puts the trial court and the court that reviews cases on notice that you will or would like to appeal the trial court's decision.
If you want to have the option of filing an appeal, you must file the Notice of Appeal within 30 days after the trial court made its final decision. If more than 30 days have passed since the trial court made the final decision, you must ask the court permission to file a late Notice of Appeal.
Who Do I Ask About Filing a Notice of Appeal?
Wondering who to talk to about filing a Notice of Appeal or whether it's already been filed in your case? I recommend calling the trial court clerk's office or your trial attorney to ask if a Notice of Appeal has already been filed in your case. The clerks are there to help! They get questions all the time and are happy to help you with this process. They can't give you specific legal advice on your situation, but they can tell you what has been filed, what to file next, and how to file documents.
If you are a loved one that is calling about the case, please let the clerk staff know when you call. Some documents need to be signed by the named party in the case or their legal representative. The clerk will be able to let you know what you can file on behalf of your loved one and what documents they need to sign. If your loved one is incarcerated, then the staff at the facility can help them locate, fill out, and file the Notice of Appeal.
What If I'm Not Sure About Appealing the Case?
If you're not sure about whether or not you want to appeal, that's okay and that makes sense. Trial court cases are long and emotionally draining. The thought of starting another lawsuit in a different court probably sounds exhausting. The final decision that you make about whether to file an appeal is ultimately up to you.
As I talked about before, the Notice of Appeal needs to be filed within 30 days after the final judgment (the court's final decision). The appeal court only has the authority to decide the appeal case if the Notice of Appeal is filed in that timeframe. If you have any questions about whether a court's decision is the final decision that starts the 30-day clock, I encourage you to ask your trial attorney or the Clerk to make sure that you don't miss the deadline.
In Summary - Notice of Appeal Gives You Time & Protects Your Right to Appeal
In summary, filing a Notice of Appeal does not mean that you have to appeal the case. Filing a Notice of Appeal protects your right to appeal the case if you choose to, giving you the time that you need to process and weigh your options.
Have questions? Want to talk with a lawyer about your options? Contact the Law Office of Rachael J. Leah, LLC to schedule a no-obligation conversation.