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Is there a reason why a federal appeal takes a long time?

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2023 | Criminal Appeals

Following conviction of a crime, there is a legal process to be followed if you wish to challenge the validity of that conviction. This is what’s called the appeals process. While ideally no one would spend any time wrongly incarcerated for a crime they did not commit, the legal system cannot always guarantee this. 

Appeals can take a frustratingly long time, especially for your loved one who has to sit and wait while a decision is reached. What is the reason why an appeal of a federal conviction takes a long time? 

The court needs time to carefully consider each case 

It’s no exaggeration to say that the federal court is always incredibly busy. At any one time, there may be hundreds of appeals in line waiting to be allocated to a judge for consideration. The unfortunate reality for those caught up in it is that it can feel like it takes forever for an appeal to be heard. 

One positive way to look at this is that judges recognize the importance of giving these appeals the right amount of time and due consideration. Given the high stakes, they need to review each case in detail. This is especially important in particularly unusual cases for which there is no legal precedent or where it may cause a change in the law if the conviction is overturned. 

A case may be heard orally, or it can be considered on papers alone.

Either way, judges will be required to research every and investigate each matter while also considering written and oral arguments put forward. Briefs can be significant in size, especially if the case was ongoing for a long time or is particularly complex. It can take a judge a while simply to understand the facts of each case. 

The importance of the outcome of a federal criminal appeal makes it essential to use legal assistance with the process. If your loved one wants to appeal a federal conviction, it’s necessary to move quickly to abide by the strict timescales set down.