Henak Law Office, S.C.
  Criminal Appeals, Post-Conviction Remedies, Federal Habeas Corpus

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316 N. Milwaukee St., #535
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: (414)283-9300
Fax: (414)283-9400
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Federal Direct Appeal

A direct appeal provides the primary means to challenge a conviction and/or sentence imposed following a plea or trial in federal court. The specific procedures for a federal appeal differ significantly from those governing an appeal from a conviction in the Wisconsin state courts. The primary difference is that, except in rare circumstances, there is no postconviction motion in the trial court as part of the direct appeal. Rather, the appeal is based solely on legal challenges apparent from the record of what already happened in the court proceedings through the sentencing. If a defendant wishes to challenge a conviction or sentence based on new evidence or the ineffective assistance of trial counsel, those issues must be raised later in a motion to vacate the judgment under 28 U.S.C. §2255.

The federal rules require that the defendant file a notice of appeal in the district court within 10 days of the entry of the judgment of conviction (not counting Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays). This deadline can be extended briefly based on a showing of excusable neglect or good cause, but an extension should rarely be needed and the grant of such an extension should never be assumed.

The appeal filing fee currently is $455. The defendant also must order (and pay for) production of all the transcripts necessary for the appeal.

The deadlines and other requirements for filing briefs in the Court of Appeals are controlled by the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, and are too complex to try to summarize here. Suffice it to say that the defendant's opening brief must set forth the relevant facts and legal arguments explaining why the Court of Appeals should grant the requested relief (i.e., plea withdrawal, a new trial, dismissal of the charges, resentencing, etc.). The government then will file its brief explaining why it believes the defendant is wrong. The defendant then has the opportunity to file a reply brief addressing (and, hopefully, rebutting) the government's arguments.

The Court of Appeals usually orders oral argument on an appeal, although it generally will be only 10 to 15 minutes per side.

Decision on the appeal can take anywhere from a few months after oral argument to a year.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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