The Appeal Process in Arizona 

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The Appeal Process in Arizona 

Losing a trial does not necessarily mean it’s the end of your case. If you have been found guilty of a crime, Arizona allows you the right to appeal the court’s decision. You can always file an appeal, regardless of how you plead or the outcome of your trial. An appeal can be especially important for those facing lengthy sentences or capital punishment. We explain more about how appeals work in Arizona, and go through the process step by step.

What Is an Appeal?

If you have been found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony in Arizona, then you have the legal right to appeal the court’s ruling. This process gives the defendant (or “appellant”) the chance to convince the court that a mistake was made during the trial that led to conviction. 


There are several reasons why you should file an appeal:

  • Your original attorney did not adequately fight for your rights.
  • The judge, jury, or prosecution did not handle your trial appropriately.
  • Proper court procedures were not followed.
  • There was a discovery of new evidence that was unavailable during the original trial.

Is an Appeal a New Trial?

No, the appeal process does not mean you have to go through a new trial. Instead, it is a review of the trial that led to conviction. The appeal court can have several outcomes: 

  • If they affirm the conviction, that means that they agree with the court’s original ruling. 
  • In some cases, they may affirm the conviction but change the sentence.
  • If they reverse a conviction, it means they disagree with the original decision. They can either order a new trial, or acquit you of the charges. 


Arizona has three types of appeal courts. If you do not win an appeal in the lower courts, you have the right to appeal your case all the way up to the state Supreme Court. 

  • The Superior Court handles misdemeanor appeals.
  • The Court of Appeals handles felony cases. 
  • The Supreme Court handles appeals based on constitutional issues and has the final say in appellate cases brought before them.

How Do Appeals Work?

Step 1: Filing the notice of appeal.

Filing your notice of appeal should happen as soon as you realize you might have a reason to appeal. 

Step 2: Preparing the record of appeal.

Since an appeals court will not look at new evidence unless that evidence was unavailable at the time of the trial, it is important to collect all records and transcripts of the original trial. 

Step 3: Researching and writing an appeal.

This is your opportunity to build a case that proves your appeal is valid. Without an explanation of why you deserve an appeal, the appeal will be ignored. 

Step 4: Presenting the argument.

The final stage of an appeal, the oral argument is when you state your case in court. This is also a chance for the appeals judge to ask clarifying questions before they review the original trial.

A Certified Defense Attorney Can Help You Appeal Your Case and Win

Going through an appeal process can be overwhelming, and in order to win, you’ll need help from an experienced lawyer who understands the Arizona justice system. Todd Coolidge is a certified criminal defense attorney with over 25 years of experience. If you’re looking for a lawyer who knows all the ins and outs of the Arizona criminal justice system, contact us today to schedule a consultation.




Images used under creative commons licence – commercial use (7/7/24). Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash.