Criminal Appeals


A criminal appeal is a right awarded to a defendant who receives an unfavorable verdict or outcome in a previously-heard trial.  The criminal appeal process provides defendants with the opportunity to contest his or her conviction to a formal appeals court.

The Basis for Criminal Appeals

Successful criminal appeals are not based on the assertion that a jury should have found in favor of the defendant.   Instead, successful criminal appeals are based upon material errors or wrongful conduct at trial that resulted in harm to a defendant, such as:

  • a judge wrongly applying the law, such as failing to properly instruct the jury on the elements needed to be proven for a conviction;
  • a material error being committed in some aspect of how a trial was conducted, such as the wrongful introduction of evidence that should have been excluded; and
  • some other prejudicial error, such as deliberately excluding the members of a particular class from serving as jurors.

Effective appeals require precise and painstaking efforts to show both the legal errors or wrongful conduct that occurred and how a defendant’s right to a fair trial was violated.  In the appellate brief, the lawyers for the appealing defendant will set forth the “relief” (or corrective action) being requested.  In some instances, the relief may be overturning a conviction, a request for a new trial, or the defendant’s freedom.

Our criminal defense attorneys are tenacious in reviewing court transcripts and experienced in identifying the legal errors and wrongful conduct that can serve as the basis for criminal appeals.  Not only are we experienced in preparing appellate briefs, as we are also experienced in oral advocacy on behalf of our clients before appellate courts.

We are available to represent clients in criminal appeals before all Utah state courts, the appellate courts in certain other states where our attorneys are admitted, and in a number of federal appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court.  In addition to representing clients in appeals in Utah, we also provide appellate representation in clients from Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming.

Appeals Often Involve Strict Deadlines Which Must Be Met

After a conviction is obtained in either state or federal court, there are deadlines in which an appeal must be made; otherwise, the right to appeal may be considered “waived.”  These deadlines for appeals will differ depending upon whether the conviction occurred in state or federal court and the basis for which an appeal is desired.  As a result, if you or a family member has been recently convicted of a crime, it is wise to contact a criminal appeals lawyer as soon as possible in order to make sure the appropriate appeals deadline is not missed.

Our Unique Experience

In addition to other highly-experienced criminal appellate lawyers, our team of criminal defense attorneys includes a former federal prosecutor for the United States Department of Justice.  These lawyers have decades of experience.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help with your appellate needs.

Primary Practice Contacts: Richard Van Wagoner and Nathan Crane

More About Our Criminal Defense Practice

Practice Contacts

Richard Van Wagoner

Nathan A. Crane