Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a list of frequently asked questions we receive about Criminal Appeals, Post-Conviction Relief and the Appeals process. Every case is unique and these answers are general answers. The answers here are not to be considered legal advice and do not in any way constitute an attorney – client relationship.

Why hire a Board Certified Criminal Appeals attorney to represent me?

In order to become a Florida Bar Board Certified Criminal Appeals Attorney, an attorney must pass a rigorous examination, receive positive reviews from judges and fellow attorneys, and must have significant experience arguing appeals. An attorney Board Certified in Criminal Appeals by the Florida Bar is considered a specialist in that area of law, has the highest level of written and oral advocacy skills, and gives you or your family member the best chance of pursuing a successful appeal.

Currently, William Ponall is one of fewer than 25 private attorneys in the State of Florida who is Board Certified in Criminal Appeals.

How long do I have to appeal?

In the Florida state courts, an individual generally has 30 days from the date he or she was sentenced to file a Notice of Appeal and start the appeals process. In federal court, an individual generally has 14 days from the date the judgment was entered in the case to file a Notice of Appeal and start the appeals process.

How many chances do I get to appeal?

Although there are some exceptions and there may be other avenues to seek post-conviction relief in certain cases, an individual generally only gets once chance to appeal his or her conviction and sentence.

How does an attorney argue an appeal?

The attorney handling an appeal of your conviction and sentence will normally argue your case both orally and in writing. The written part is included in an Initial Brief in which the attorney makes arguments concerning potential errors made at trial by the trial judge or the prosecutor. The Initial Brief is normally 20-30 pages in length, but can be as long as 50 pages.

Once the Initial Brief is filed, the Government is given the opportunity to respond in a written Answer Brief. After the Government files its Answer Brief, the attorney will get an opportunity to respond to the Government’s arguments in a written Reply Brief. After the three written briefs are filed, the appeals court will normally schedule oral argument. At oral argument, the attorneys for the Defendant and the Government each generally get 15 minutes of time to argue their respective positions and answer questions from the three appellate judges assigned to the case.

A short time after oral argument is completed, the appeals court will issue a decision on the appeal.

How long does an appeal take?

Every case is different. However, the appellate court usually issues a decision on an appeal approximately 12-15 months after the individual is sentenced.

What happens if I don’t win my appeal?

If you don’t win your first appeal, you may have other options to successfully challenge your conviction and sentence.

You may be able to pursue an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court. You may be able to file a Rule 3.850 Motion for Post-conviction Relief in a state case, or a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in a federal case. You may be able to argue that you were provided with ineffective assistance of counsel by either your trial attorney or the attorney that represented you in your appeal.

How do I know what my options are?

Each case is unique. Please contact Ponall Law for a free consultation to explore your options.