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An appeal is a review of proceedings that occurred in a lower court. In the context of Maricopa County and Arizona in general, city courts and justice courts, e.g. Scottsdale Municipal Court, Phoenix Municipal Court, the San Tan Justice Court, or West Mesa Justice Court, are appealed to the Superior Court of Arizona, which normally acts as a trial court, but in the cases of lower courts, acts as an appellate court. Superior Court cases are appealed to the Arizona Court of Appeals, which has two divisions, one in Phoenix and one in Tucson, that handle all Superior Court appeals for the State of Arizona.
An appeal is not (necessarily) a new trial, new hearing, or new sentencing. Generally, if the reviewing court (another term for an appellate court) finds that the lower court made a mistake, and that mistake was significant enough, the appeals court can grant you a new trial, hearing, or sentencing, but it is back in the lower court. So, to put it another way, if the lower court makes a mistake in your trial, and you are successful on appeal, the result, generally, is that you get a new trial back in the lower court.
Everyone who is convicted at trial of any offense, criminal or civil (and in some other limited circumstances), has a right to at least one appeal. That means you do not have to have a reason to seek an appeal, you can do it for any reason whatsoever or no reason at all; however, most commonly, people pursue appeals if they feel they were wrongly convicted – meaning, they feel the trial court convicted them in error, either denying (or granting) a motion that it should not have denied, or making a finding of guilt it should not have made.
Any type of criminal case can be appealed – the most common appeals come when the stakes are very high for the defendant. Any felony, misdemeanor, or civil traffic offense (e.g. speeding) is eligible for an appeal, but the most typical cases tend to be DUIs, felony or misdemeanor, cases/crimes with complicated legal issues where the trial court likely made a mistake or crimes with consequences outside the courtroom such as driver’s license suspensions/revocations or licensure problems.
Yes, many types of convictions cannot be appealed. The most common type is whenever the person is convicted from a plea agreement. One of the hallmarks of the plea agreement is that the defendant waives or gives up his right to an appeal, this is one of the chief reasons that prosecutors desire to have defendants plead – they can no longer seek review of any legal or factual issues that occurred in their case.
In a plea agreement situation, there is still an option to seek review, but it is not called an appeal, it is called a petition for post-conviction relief, or PCR. It is similar to an appeal, but the scope of the review is more limited.
The second type of un-appealable convictions are those that are untimely. Appellate review has a very restricted timeline that depends on the type of conviction and the originating court.
There is really no such thing as an ineligible appeal – there are those appeals that are not likely to succeed, and some that are very likely to succeed. The best appeals are those where the trial court is given very little deference by the reviewing court. Issues of law (such as whether a law is constitutional, or the interpretation of a word in a statute) are reviewed de novo, which is the lowest form of deference, meaning, the reviewing court is free to substitute its opinion for that of the trial court. The appeals that are least likely to succeed are those that involve rulings by the trial court that are discretionary – they are reviewed for an abuse of discretion. In an abuse of discretion situations, the reviewing court gives great deference to the rulings of the trial court; in other words, the reviewing court is not free to substitute its opinion for that of the trial court. This arises most commonly in situations where the trial court ruled on a motion to suppress or to dismiss.
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