CAUTION: This information is only intended to give you a general idea of the appeal process. It does not cover everything you may need to know about appeals. You may wish to seek the advice of an attorney.
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An appeal is a request to a higher court to review a decision made by a lower court. Denver County Court cases are appealed to Denver District Court. It is important to understand that an appeal is NOT a new trial. Denver District Court’s job is to review a record of what happened in Denver County Court to see if certain kinds of legal errors were made in the case.
To win an appeal, the person appealing must convince District Court that the County Court was wrong about something that affected the result of the trial. The law is that a person is entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect trial. Even if mistakes were made during the trial, unless there are significant errors, they may not be enough for the District Court to reverse the County Court decision. The party appealing must show that errors prevented them from getting a fair trial.
If you win an appeal it means the District Court is reversing or modifying the decision of the County Court and then sends the case back to County Court for another trial or hearing.
You have the right to appeal the decision of the Judge or jury to a higher court. In Denver County Court cases, the higher court is Denver District Court.
Court clerks cannot give you legal advice on whether or not or how you should proceed. If you need assistance, you should consider consulting an attorney.
Rule 37 of the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure defines what must be done to file an appeal. If all requirements for filing an appeal are not met, your appeal may be dismissed and the judgment of the Court remains in place.
STEPS TO FILING YOUR APPEAL:
Within 35 days after the date of judgment or denial of post-trial motions, whichever is later, you must do all of the following:
- File a Notice of Appeal and Designation of Record with Denver County Court online or in person at the Clerk’s Office in Room 135 at 1437 Bannock Street or in Room 160 at 520 W. Colfax Avenue. The Notice of Appeal and Designation of Record shall state the alleged errors of County Court and tells County Court what you would like included in the record sent to District Court for their review. Make sure you list the courtroom, dates and type of hearings you would like transcribed. (If filing online, the form will be submitted electronically to County Court. You should print three copies of the form. One for filing in District Court, one for the prosecutor’s office, and one for your records.)
- A Stay of Execution on your sentence may be requested by checking the box on the Notice of Appeal and Designation of Record. You may be required to post an appeal bond or deposit the amount of fines and fees assessed. (The Appeals Clerk will notify you of the appeal bond. Make sure to include your phone number and email information on the Notice of Appeal and Designation of Record.)
- Pay a $200 transcript deposit to the County Court. This can be done online or in person by cash, money order or credit card, (no personal checks). Once the transcriber reviews the length of the hearings you designated to be transcribed, the transcriber will calculate the approximate cost. If the $200 deposit is not enough to cover the cost, the transcriber will contact you for additional monies. Once the money is received, the transcriber will complete the transcript(s). If the cost of the transcript is less than $200, the private transcriber will refund the additional money to you.
- File a signed copy of the Notice of Appeal and Designation of Record and pay a $70 filing fee to District Court or file a Motion to File Without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit .
- Serve a copy of the Notice of Appeal and Designation of Record to the prosecutor’s office that presented the case against you. (Either the District Attorney’s Office or City Attorney’s Office.)
NOTE: You can complete Steps 1 through 3 online.
A District Court filing fee of $70.00 is required. If you are unable to pay, you must complete a Motion to File Without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit and submit to District Court at the time you file your Notice of Appeal and Designation of Record. The District Court will decide if you need to pay the filing fee.
Transcribers charge $3.00 per page for transcripts. A transcript deposit of $200 must be paid to County Court at the time you file your appeal. If the transcript will be more than $200, the transcriber will contact you for the additional monies. The transcript will not be completed until the money is paid to the transcriber.
If you wish to have a copy of the transcript, you must pay $.75 per page.
Other fees you may encounter are a $20.00 certification fee and $.25 per page for copies of documents.
You may be required to post an appeal bond in County Court when you file your appeal. The amount of the bond varies and will be decided by the Judge.
You must meet all the requirements for filing an appeal within 35 days from the date of judgment or denial of posttrial motions, whichever is later. If you miss the deadline, you lose your right to appeal.
Filing the Notice of Appeal and Designation of Record does NOT automatically postpone the deadline for paying your fine or completing another part of your sentence. To postpone your sentence, you must ask the Judge for a “stay of execution” of the sentence by checking the box on the Notice of Appeal and Designation of Record form.
An appeal is NOT a new trial. Therefore, in order for the District Court to review what happened during the County Court trial or hearing, a written transcript of the proceeding must be created.
In Supreme Court Chief Justice Directive 05-03 , Section IV, Paragraph D, sub-paragraph 2(b) it states, “Copies of tapes or CD’s shall not be used as the official record for purposes of appeal, motion or other court proceedings. Only signed and certified transcripts by reporters or other authorized transcriptionists shall be used as the official records of court proceedings.”
The standard rate for transcripts is $3.00 per page. Copies of transcripts are $.75 per page.
You will be notified when the transcript is completed. If you did not pay for a copy of the transcript, you can come to the County Court to review the transcript. You have 14 days from the date of completion to file objections to the record. If you file objections to the record, a hearing will be held in County Court for the Judge to decide if the record should change. If the County Court does not receive any objections to the record within 14 days, the record will be filed with the District Court.
Once the District Court receives the record from County Court, you have 21 days to file a written brief with the District Court. The written brief should explain any alleged errors you feel happened in County Court and outline arguments to support your appeal. You must provide the prosecutor’s office with a copy of your written brief.
The prosecutor’s office may file an answering brief within 21 days after you provide them a copy of the written opening brief. If you receive an answering brief, you may file a reply brief within 14 days after you receive a copy of the answering brief.
Once all of the timeframes have passed for filing briefs, the District Court will review the case file and transcript. There is no hearing in District Court for you to present your issues regarding your appeal. The District Court will enter a written ruling and you and the prosecutor’s office will receive a copy of the written ruling. It could take District Court some time to rule on your appeal, so you must be patient.
If you decide you do not want to continue with your appeal you should file an Abandonment of Appeal in County Court and District Court. By deciding not to continue with your appeal, you give up the chance to raise any objections to your conviction, sentence, or other matters you could have raised on appeal. If your sentence was stayed due to the appeal, you may be required to start complying with your sentence immediately.
You will be notified of the District Court ruling. The District Court will either affirm, reverse, and/or remand the case for further proceedings. District Court could also dismiss the appeal.
If the District Court “affirms” the decision of County Court, it means the County Court decision is upheld and any outstanding matters, such as the sentence, must be addressed by County Court.
If the District Court “reverses” the judgment, the County Court decision is nullified and District Court will give specific instructions on what the County Court should do with the case.
If the District Court “remands” the case back to County Court, it usually means the District Court found an error was made and the District Court specifies what type of hearing should take place in County Court, for example, a new trial.
If the District Court “dismisses” the appeal, it usually means you did not follow proper procedure for filing the appeal and the judgment of County Court stands. All outstanding matters, such as the sentence, will be addressed by County Court.