Frequently asked questions:

FAQs for Attorneys   |   FAQs for Parties


FAQ for Parties

Q: How can I find general information on what to expect during my appeal and follow what is happening during my appeal?

A: ADI has a Criminal Case Information Sheet (PDF: English) / (PDF: Spanish), and a Dependency Case Information Sheet (PDF: English) / (PDF: Spanish) intended to walk parties through the usual stages of appeal. We are always careful to caution, however, that information specific to a case must be obtained from the appointed attorney.

These information sheets cover such topics as:

  • What is an appeal?
  • Who will represent me on appeal?
  • What can I expect to happen during the appeal?
  • How can I find out more about my appeal?

You can follow what is happening during your appeal on the Court of Appeal website docket, which shows filings, orders, and other events in specific cases.

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Q: How can I start my appeal?

A: An appeal is started by filing a notice of appeal. ADI has Notice of Appeal forms with detailed instructions on when and where to file.

If your case is a dependency one and the court has made an order referring a dependency case for a permanent plan, you must file a notice of intent to file a writ petition rather than a notice of appeal. The Judicial Council has a Notice of Intent form to start this process.

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Q: My attorney is not going to file a petition for review in the California Supreme Court. How can I do it myself?

A: A resource is ADI’s sample Petition for Review (PDF).

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Q: I want to challenge my conviction, but appeal is not an option because the time has passed or I would need to rely on information not brought to the attention of the trial court. What can I do?

A: A petition for writ of habeas corpus is frequently used to challenge a conviction when appealing is not an option. Many habeas corpus proceedings are initiated by defendants acting in pro per (on their own). See Judicial Council Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus form and follow the instructions carefully.

Before filing a petition for habeas corpus parties should be aware that a review of trial court proceedings carries the risk that errors in their favor might be noticed and corrected to their disadvantage and that withdrawing a guilty plea also erases the benefits gained by the plea bargain. (See ADI's Criminal Appellate Practice Manual, § 4.91 et seq.) Also, a defendant is generally allowed only one habeas corpus proceeding to challenge a conviction and therefore should include all grounds for challenge in the first petition. (See ADI's Criminal Appellate Practice Manual, § 8.10.)

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Q: I am a self-represented party at the moment. How can I get help?

A: Although a number of persons in ordinary civil appeals choose to represent themselves, almost all parties going through the ADI program are represented by counsel. In these cases (criminal, dependency, conservatorship, etc.), an indigent party usually has the right to counsel appointed by the court at the public expense. In these cases, self-representation may not even be an option.

An exception is that in non-dependency cases parties whose appointed counsel have filed a no-merit (Wende-Anders) brief have the right to file their own briefs or letter briefs, raising issues they wish the court to consider. Ask your attorney for guidance.

Those few who are self-represented can get limited guidance here on the ADI website. That page deals with challenges to a judgment or order after judgment in California criminal cases charged as a felony, juvenile delinquency and dependency proceedings, involuntary civil commitments, and related appeals and writs. Cases in other jurisdictions, proceedings before judgment, and appeals and writs in ordinary civil cases, misdemeanors, infractions, small claims, and other cases are not included and often have different deadlines and rules.

Parties should always consult:

The judicial website has a number of self-help resources, but parties should be aware that much of the guidance is designed for ordinary civil cases and should not be applied in criminal or dependency cases.

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*The material found on this Web site is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered to be legal advice and is not guaranteed to be complete or up to date. Use of this Web site is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between the user and Appellate Defenders, Inc. (ADI) or any of the firm's attorneys. Readers should not rely upon or act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. See full disclaimer.