Types of Appeals & Post-Conviction Litigation Cases Protass Law PLLC Handles
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State and Federal Criminal Appeals

If you’ve gone through the stress of a criminal trial and it ended with a conviction, you’re likely disappointed. Although your trial may not have ended as you would have liked, your case is not over. The experienced NY criminal appeals lawyers at Protass Law PLLC are skilled at challenging the results of criminal cases on appeal. We will listen to your side of the story and keep your goals in mind as we move forward with the next stage of your case.

To schedule a free and confidential case consultation with a dedicated appeals and post-conviction litigation lawyer, call us today at (212) 455-0335, or reach out via the online form.

Reasons for Appealing a Conviction and/or Sentence

Anyone who has been convicted of a crime at trial (and even some who have pled guilty rather than going to trial) has the right to challenge that conviction (or sentence) by way of “appeal.” An appeal is the process by which a defendant asks that a higher (appellate) court review the proceedings that took place in, the decisions made in and the result reached in a lower (trial) court. No limit exists on the issues that might presented on appeal. Rather, any legal error committed at trial is subject to appeal. Some of the more common errors include:

  • Errors committed during jury selection, such as attempts at excluding African Americans from the jury;
  • Errors in admitting evidence or testimony that should have been excluded;
  • Errors in the instructions provided to jurors at the end of a case;
  • Prosecutors engaging in intentional misconduct; and
  • Defense attorneys providing constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel.

Even the sentence ultimately imposed by the trial court can be challenged on appeal as too long or as based on impermissible factors.

The Appeals Process

Protass Law PLLC has a deep reservoir of experience in challenging convictions and sentences on appeal in both state and federal courts. If you feel that you were treated unfairly at trial or received a sentence that was too harsh, you might consider contacting a NY criminal appeals lawyer to discuss your case. We can help with the following steps:

Filing a Notice of Appeal

The first step in any criminal appeal is filing a Notice of Appeal - a simple form that must be filed with the clerk of the court within a set period of time after a judgment of conviction becomes final. In federal court, a Notice of Appeal must be filed within 14 days of entry of judgment. In the courts of the State of New York, a Notice of Appeal must be filed within 30 days of entry of judgment.


To litigate an appeal, defendants (through a skilled appellate lawyer like NY criminal appeals lawyer Harlan Protass) files a “brief” detailing the errors committed by the judge at trial warrant reversal of a conviction and/or a sentence reduction. “Briefs” are often far from brief. Rather, they contain legal precedent and detailed legal argument concerning the errors committed by the lower (trial) court. After a defendant’s brief is filed, the prosecutor is afforded the opportunity to submit its own “opposition brief” in which it presents an argument in response to the arguments presented in the defendant’s brief. The defendant gets the last word, though, through a “reply brief,” which presents a response to the prosecutor’s arguments.

Oral Argument

After briefing is complete, an appellate court will hear oral argument from both sides. Weeks or sometimes months later, that appellate court will issue a written decision either upholding or reversing a conviction (or, potentially, upholding or reversing a sentence). If a conviction (or sentence) is reversed, the case is sent back down to the trial court, and the defendant is returned to the legal status s/he occupied before conviction. Sometimes a new trial follows; other times the parties reach a negotiated disposition.

The Appellate Courts

The court to which appeal is presented depends on the court from which an appeal is taken.

In New York, appeals initially go one of the four Departments of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York (depending on where in the state the conviction took place). The four Departments and their respective counties are the following:

  • Appellate Division, First Department - Manhattan (New York) and Bronx
  • Appellate Division, Second Department -Staten Island (Richmond), Brooklyn (Kings), Queens, Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, Orange, Putnum and Dutchess
  • Appellate Division, Third Department - Sullivan, Ulster, Green, Columbia, Schoharie, Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Montgomery, Fulton, Saratoga, Washington, Warren, Hamilton, Essex, St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Delaware, Otsego, Madison, Chenango, Broome, Cortland, Tioga, Tompkins, Schuyler and Chemung
  • Appellate Division, Fourth Department - Onondaga, Oswego, Oneida, Herkimer, Lewis, Jefferson, Steuben, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Wayne, Yates, Seneca, Cayuga, Niagara, Orleans, Erie, Genesee, Wyoming, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegheny

If an appeal to one of the Appellate Divisions fails, appeal (with the court’s permission) can be made to the New York Court of Appeals - the highest court in New York. It has the final say on all issues of state law.

In the federal system, appeals initially go to one of the Circuit Courts of Appeal. For appeals emanating from federal courts in New York, appeals go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Like the system in New York, an appeal that fails in the Court of Appeals can ultimately be presented the U.S. Supreme Court - the highest court in the land.

Appeals to the New York Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court are rare, though, and must be based on significant questions of criminal law or procedure that have widespread application.

A New York Criminal Appeals Lawyer Can Help You

Navigating a criminal appeal can be complex. You must meet strict deadlines and file paperwork that meets the strict requirements that differ from court to court. If you’re considering an appeal of your conviction and/or sentence, you should obtain the help of an experienced New York criminal defense attorney who can walk you through the process, identify issues to present on appeal and present those issues in the most persuasive fashion possible.

NY criminal appeals attorney Harlan Protass has extensive experience with criminal appeals and other post-conviction litigation matters throughout Manhattan and New York. He has worked with defendants facing difficult situations after negative trial outcomes, and understands the harsh effects that a criminal conviction can have on your life. He will fight for you to ensure that the right appellate court understands that your rights were violated, and that you deserve to have your conviction and/or sentence reversed.

Call Protass Law PLLC today at (212) 455-0335, or reach out online to start your NY criminal appeal today.