Criminal Appeals

Appeal Procedure For Criminal And DUI/OVI Cases In Columbus And Central OhioWhen a person is convicted of a DUI/OVI or criminal offense after a trial (and in certain other circumstances), that person has the right to appeal the conviction. If you choose to contest a conviction, you must file the appeal with the appropriate Court Of Appeals. Ohio is divided into twelve appellate districts, and you must file the appeal in the district with jurisdiction in the county where your conviction occurred.

The first step in appealing a conviction is filing a Notice Of Appeal. The Notice of Appeal, as the name implies, informs the trial court and opposing counsel that you are appealing your conviction. You must file the Notice Of Appeal, a docketing statement, and a request for the trial court to transmit the record of the trial level proceedings. You should then order a transcript of the trial level proceedings.

The document in which you argue that the conviction should be reversed is an appellate brief. Many people believe that the appeal is simply another trial, but it’s not. In the appellate brief, you do not argue the facts of the case (whether you were guilty or not guilty). Rather, you must persuade the court of appeals that legal errors occurred at the trial level, and that, because of those errors, the process was unfair, so the conviction must be reversed. You cannot provide additional evidence; you are only permitted to argue based on what is in the transcript and other records from the trial court.

After the defendant files the appellate brief, the prosecuting attorney files a brief arguing that the conviction should not be reversed. The case is then scheduled for oral arguments. At the oral arguments, both sides have an opportunity to present arguments to a three-judge panel, and the judges have an opportunity to ask questions of both sides.

The appellate judges usually do not announce the decision at the oral argument. Instead, they research the issues further and discuss it among themselves before making a decision. The decision is announced in a written decision and opinion of the appellate court.

If a conviction is reversed by the Court of Appeals, the case goes back to the trial court. The prosecuting attorney then decides whether or not to begin the prosecution over. Depending on the reason the conviction was reversed, the prosecution may be more difficult the second time.

In addition to the appeal described above ("a direct appeal"), there are other post-sentencing procedures available. Those include a motion for a new trial,  judicial release (early release for a person sentenced to a prison term for a felony); a motion for sentence modification (early release for a person sentenced to a jail term for a misdemeanor); parole (release for a person sentenced to prison before July 1, 1996); pardon/clemency (reduction in sentence by the governor's office); habeus corpus, and expungement (sealing the record of a first offense or a dismissed charge).