Appeal: A Defendant has fourteen (14) days from the date of their sentencing to file a “Notice of Appeal”. Also filed along with that is a “Designation of Record”. This will designate all of the documents and tapes (or court reporter transcripts) which will be necessary for the appeal. The higher court then issues a “Briefing Schedule” which gives time limits on when the “Appellant’s Brief” is to be filed. The State can file a “Respondent Brief,” and the Defendant gets the last word with a “Reply Brief”. The judge can either rule on the pleadings or he can set the Appeal to “Oral Argument,” where the defense attorney and prosecutor show up to argue the case. The judge will then issue his ruling. If that ruling is not satisfactory, the Defendant can then appeal to the next higher court. This can go all the way up to the United States Supreme Court before a final indisputable ruling is handed down (i.e., Gore v. Bush in the 2000 presidential election).
Post Conviction Relief Petition (PCR): If a Defendant feels that he had ineffective assistance of counsel (this usually occurs with public defender cases), or newly discovered evidence has been found which supports his innocence, he then can file a “Post Conviction Relief Petition”. The rules state that a Defendant has ninety (90) days from the date of “Sentencing,” or thirty (30) days from the date of the last (final) appeal, to file a Post Conviction Relief Petition. If newly discovered evidence has been found, then a PCR can be filed any time. These are normally conducted on felony cases where people are serving long prison sentences. However, some people file a PCR even when they serve no prison time in order to simply have this black mark removed from their record.
“Habeas Corpus” is a Latin term for “that you have the body”. A Writ of Habeas Corpus is a motion which is filed most frequently to ensure that a Defendant’s imprisonment or detention is not illegal. It is sometimes used to test the legalities of an arrest or a commitment. It may also be used to obtain review of the regularity of an extradition process, the right to or amount of bail, and the jurisdiction of a court which has imposed a criminal sentence. Most often this is used in Federal Court. The State Court system has other devices which can usually accomplish the same purpose.