Appeals and Post-Conviction Attorneys

Our attorneys regularly represent clients in criminal appeals throughout the United States. We have handled appeals in the 4th, 10th, and 11th Circuit Courts of Appeal, the Virginia Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of Virginia, and the D.C. Court of Appeals.  Additionally, we have handled habeas petitions at the state and federal level. Finally, we are experienced at filing petitions for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.  We pride ourselves on our brief writing and oral advocacy skills.

Federal Criminal Appeals

When a defendant is convicted and sentenced, there usually is the option of filing an appeal.  (In some instances, an appeal may be precluded if the defendant pleaded guilty).  An appeal starts with the filing of a notice of appeal, and allows the defendant to challenge any errors made by the judge during the trial, or at sentencing.  For federal criminal cases originating in Virginia and Maryland, the appeals are usually heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  For federal criminal cases originating in the District of Columbia, the appeals are usually heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  For more information regarding federal criminal appeals, please read our article: “Understanding Federal Criminal Appeals: A Primer for Non-Laywers.”

You need an experienced attorney to properly present an appeal.  For example, not every error by the trial judge will make a good issue for appeal, and it takes an experienced attorney to select the best issues for appeal.  Additionally, an appeal is almost always decided based on the briefs, or written filings, submitted by the parties.  A good appellate attorney knows the importance of the brief, and will spend the vast majority of his or her time writing the most persuasive arguments in a well-crafted brief.  Finally, federal criminal appeals are governed by strict procedural rules.  These rules include the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure as well local rules of each individual circuit.  The rules control everything, from what must be included in a brief, to the number of copies, the font-size, and color-binding for the briefs.  Hiring an experienced attorney to represent you on appeal will ensure that your brief is not rejected for failure to follow the rules.

Frequently, federal courts of appeals will decide cases on the briefs alone.  Occasionally, they may grant the parties oral argument.  This usually happens if the appellate judges think that the case is a close one or if the issues are particularly complex or important. Oral argument is a chance for your attorney to really convince the appeals judges of the need for reversal. In federal criminal cases, convictions are almost never reversed without an oral argument.

Post-conviction proceedings

We regularly handle post-conviction matters such as petitions for habeas corpus, motions under D.C. Code 23-110, or petitions under 18 U.S.C. 2255.  To learn more about our post-conviction practice, please see our page entitled Case Evaluations for Habeas Petitions and other Post Conviction Remedies.

Experienced Federal and State Criminal Appeals Lawyers

Our attorneys have frequently and successfully represented clients on appeals in both federal and state appeals courts.

Throughout his career, Mr. Burnham has obtained multiple reversals of felony convictions for clients in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

In 2012, the Supreme Court of Virginia made the rare decision to grant our pretrial motion for writ of habeas corpus on speedy trial grounds, filed pursuant to the court’s original jurisdiction to hear such matters. Our petition was supported by an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief from the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The issue was ultimately mooted when our lawyers prevailed at trial.

In 2013, we obtained an important reversal of a forced medication order in United States v. Frank Chatmon, No. 12-4725 (May 15, 2013).

Our attorneys are currently involved in the litigation of an important appellate issue over the meaning of “violent felony” and “crime of violence.”  To learn more about this issue, read our blog post: “Violent Felony” And “Crime of Violence”: What Johnson v. United States Can Mean For Other Federal Criminal Statutes Involving Violent Crimes.

If you need an attorney to represent you on an appeal, or in a post conviction proceeding, please do not hesitate to call us to schedule a free phone consultation.