After you or a loved one is convicted of a criminal offense in Texas, it may be a very stressful and emotional time. But, it is important to remember that there are important deadlines that must be met in order to start the appeals process, if the defendant has the right of appeal. You need retain an experience criminal appellate attorney as soon as possible.
Certificate of Right of Appeal
In Texas, you must have permission from the judge to appeal. A judge will give you permission to appeal if you were convicted at a jury trial and did not waive your right of appeal before sentencing.
If you pleaded guilty, the judge may give you the opportunity to appeal your guilty plea if you or your lawyer filed pretrial motions that were ruled on before entering your plea or you pleaded guilty without the benefit of a plea bargain agreement.
If there were no pretrial motions that were ruled on and the judge followed your plea bargain agreement, you may not have the right of appeal. In these circumstances, there are two possible options. First, you may be able to file for a Motion for New Trial. Depending on the issues contained within the motion, you may be allowed to appeal the denial of your motion for new trial. Or, you may still be able to pursue a post-conviction writ of habeas corpus. (Writs of Habeas Corpus are discussed in Part II of this post).
Direct Appeal to Intermediary Appellate Court
If you have received permission to appeal your conviction, the first step in the appellate process is to pursue a direct appeal to an intermediary court of appeals. Texas’s courts of appeals are divided into fourteen districts. Bexar County and some of the surrounding counties are covered by the Fourth Court of Appeals. The Fourth Court of Appeals is in San Antonio, Texas. Nueces County and the surrounding counties are covered by the 13th Court of Appeals that is located in Corpus Christi and Edinburgh, Texas. Also, Comal County and the surrounding counties are covered by the Third Court of Appeals located in Austin, Texas.
Each case is assigned to a panel of three justices in the court and these justices will issue an opinion in the case. If you are not successful on this direct appeal, the next step is a Petition for Discretionary Appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin, Texas. This is commonly known as “PDR”.
Petition for Discretionary Review in the Court of Criminal Appeals
The Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest court in Texas for criminal cases. The court is comprised nine judges with Judge Keller sitting as the presiding judge.
If you are not successful in the intermediary appellate court, then you may—but it is not necessary—file a Petition for Discretionary Review.
Unlike the lower court, the Court of Criminal Appeals does not have hear every Petition for Discretionary Review. In fact, as the name suggests, the Court of Criminal Appeals exercises its discretion on what cases it will hear.
If the Court decides to grant PDR, then the court will order briefs and the court will either decide the case based on the briefs alone or will grant oral argument.
If you or a loved one has been convicted, please contact the Law Office of Dayna Jones to start the appellate process. There are important deadlines that come up quickly and you do not want to miss a deadline and potentially miss the opportunity to appeal the conviction.