Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Appealing a Criminal Conviction in Iowa

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Iowa Criminal Law » Appealing a Criminal Conviction in Iowa

Those convicted of a crime in Iowa have a right to appeal that conviction.  Criminal Appeals in Iowa are governed by the Iowa Rules of Appellate Procedure and the Rules on Electronic Document Management System, which are the electronic filing of court documents. Because appeals are time sensitive and have specific requirements, it is highly advisable to contact an attorney immediately so that a deadline is not missed. Certain deadlines are firm, and extensions of time are not permissible.


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After a defendant in a criminal case is sentenced, the defendant has a right to appeal his or her conviction and sentence to the Iowa Supreme Court by filing a Notice of Appeal. The notice must be filed within thirty (30) days of sentencing in both the district court and the Supreme Court. The notice must state the order that is appealed and must be served on all parties. Four (4) days after the notice is filed, the district court clerk must transmit a certified copy of the notice of appeal, docket, and calendar entries to the Supreme Court clerk and all parties. Seven (7) days after the notice is filed, the defendant/appellant must either pay the filing fee ($150) or file a motion to waive the filing fee. In addition, seven (7) days after the notice is filed, the defendant/appellant orders the transcript of the proceedings by filing a combined certificate in the district court and in the Supreme Court. The combined certificate is served on the court reporter(s) and all parties.

Within forty (40) days of service of the combined certificate, the court reporter files the original transcript and serves the parties. Once the last transcript was been prepared, the Supreme Court clerk gives the parties notice of the briefing deadlines. The defendant/appellant’s proof brief and designation of appendix is due fifty (50) days after the clerk gives notice that the last transcript has been filed. A copy of both must be served on all parties. Briefs have very specific requirements in form and content. The Rules of Appellate Procedure should be consulted with and followed closely. Within thirty (30) days after service of the defendant/appellant’s proof brief, the State/appellee’s proof brief and designation of appendix are due; copies must be provided to all parties. Within thirty (30) days after the service of the State/appellee’s proof brief, the defendant/appellant must prepare, file, and serve on all parties the appendix, which is the relevant parts of the record the parties desire the appellate court to consider. Again, the appendix has very specific requirements in form and content. The Rules of Appellate Procedure should be consulted with and followed closely. Within fourteen (14) days after service of the appendix, each party files and serves final briefs, which refer to specific parts of the record as contained in the appendix. Within seven (7) days after all final briefs have been served, the defendant/appellant requests the district court clerk transmit any remaining parts of the record.

When appealing from a guilty plea or sentencing only, expedited deadlines apply to these types of appeals. Within twenty (20) days of service of the combined certificate, the court reporter files the original transcript and serves the parties. The defendant/appellant’s proof brief and designation of appendix is due twenty-five (25) days after the clerk gives notice that the last transcript has been filed. The State/appellee’s proof brief and designation of appendix is due fifteen (15) days after service of the appellant’s proof brief. Within fifteen (15) days after service of the State/appellee’s proof brief, the defendant/appellant must prepare, file, and serve on all parties the appendix. Within seven (7) days after service of the appendix, each party files and serves final briefs.


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Once the final briefs have been filed and the record has been transmitted, the Supreme Court decides whether to retain the case or transfer it to the Iowa Court of Appeals. The vast majority of cases in Iowa are transferred to the Court of Appeals. The appellate court will decide whether or not to grant a request for oral argument. If a request for oral argument is not granted, the appeal is submitted based only on the briefs. Criminal appeals typically take anywhere from nine (9) months to eighteen (18) months from the time the notice of appeal is filed until the appellate court issues its opinion, depending on whether expedited times apply, the complexity of the issues, and the court’s current caseload. The appellate court may affirm, reverse, and/or remand the case. Finally, after the appellate court issues its opinion, the appellate court will issue procedendo, which gives jurisdiction back to the district court.


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