Appealing a Criminal Conviction in Illinois

In Illinois, an individual has the right to appeal a criminal conviction. If an individual was found guilty either by a jury or at a bench trial, they may appeal their conviction and sentence. First, the individual has the right to file a Motion for New Trial within 30 days after the finding of guilty was entered. In this motion, you must include which error you believed occurred. If the Motion for New Trial is denied, then the individual will be sentenced.

Following sentencing, an individual has 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal. The individual must file their Appeal in both the Circuit Court and the appropriate Illinois Appellate Court. For example, an individual convicted in Rock Island County should file their Notice of Appeal in the Rock Island Circuit Court and the Third District Appellate Court.

There are very strict deadlines and requirements for Appeals in Illinois. The Appellate Court will not just hear the case again. An Appeal must assert that there was an error in the case at the circuit court level. The Appellate Court will only review those issues on Appeal that were preserved at the Circuit level, and brought to the Appellate Court’s attention. These issues are brought to the Appellate Court’s attention through briefs filed by both parties. Any issues not raised during trial, a pre-trial motion, or during the Motion for New Trial are not available for review at the Appellate level. If upon review of the issues, the Appellate Court finds a serious error, they will order a new trial.

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Illinois offers other options besides filing an Appeal. Those options include: (1) Withdrawing a Plea of Guilty; (2) Post-Conviction Petition; and (3) Petition for Actual Innocence. If an individual wants to withdraw their plea of guilty, they must do so no later than 30 days after sentencing. If the plea is timely withdrawn, the case continues forward as if no plea of guilty was entered. A Post-Conviction Petition is only available to individuals who are in prison and who are able to assert that one of their constitutional rights were violated, and that that violation resulted in their conviction. Finally, a Petition for Actual Innocence is only appropriate when there is newly discovered evidence that was not available at the original trial.

There are many options available to an individual who has been convicted in Illinois. If an individual is considering filing an Appeal or requesting some other form of Post-Conviction relief, it is best to consult with an attorney. The attorney will help in determining the appropriate course of action, making sure that no deadlines are missed, and that the proper documents are filed.