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What is an Appeal: A Common Misconception

Updated: Feb 19, 2019

Your case ends, and you didn’t get the result that you were hoping for. Maybe you thought that you were entitled to a bigger judgment, more money in attorneys’ fees, more custody of your child, or less time in jail. Whatever the case might be, many clients’ first instinct is to feverishly announce their “intent to appeal.”

Unfortunately, an appeal is more complicated than this. While it’s true that in an appeal, a higher court will re-examine a decision made by the lower court, an appeal requires a finding that there’s been an error in law, rather than just a “bad decision.” Thus, the appellate court will not overturn a judge or jury decision when the appropriate factual findings have been made, but the evidence was arguably misinterpreted.


There are other limiting obstacles as well. Your appellate attorney will be restricted to only the evidence that exists in the lower court’s record. This means that if your trial attorney did not present certain evidence at trial, that evidence cannot be presented to the appellate court. An appeal is not a second chance to try the case again, but a chance to re-evaluate limited legal issues which may have been so egregious that they affected the outcome of your case. This requires varying degrees of even higher burdens of proof.


In the appeal, your appellate attorney will submit the issues on appeal in a lengthy, detailed “brief,” which should be supported by a host of legal authority and conveyed in a persuasive argument. The appellate court will then render a decision solely on the briefs or on the briefs and oral argument, if one is requested by either of the parties.


The appellate process is complicated, requires significant research, strong writing skills, and knowledge of the applicable procedures, which differ from those in the trial court. This is why it’s important to carefully select an appellate attorney who has this specialized ability and experience.


In Florida, your time to appeal is very limited to just a short period following the entry of an Order. Thus, it is essential that you contact an attorney immediately, or else you may waive your rights to file an appeal. If you think there was an error in your case and would like to discuss with an appellate attorney call KCAP Law today for a free consultation.

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