Appeals and Post-Conviction FAQs

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Appeals and Post-Conviction FAQ

Can the Appeals and Post-Conviction Unit represent me on the appeal of my criminal conviction?

The Appeals and Post-Conviction Unit is assigned by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department to represent indigent appellants in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Niagara and Orleans Counties on the direct appeals of their judgments of conviction. In order for the Unit to be assigned, the trial attorney representing a criminal defendant in New York State Supreme and County Courts must file a notice of appeal within thirty days of the sentencing date as well as an application for poor person relief with the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, or obtain an order pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law 380.55 granting poor person relief on appeal. The Unit also represents some indigent appellants with judgments of conviction from Ontario County.


Additionally, the Unit represents children, who were represented in Erie County Family Court by the Attorneys for Children Unit, at the Appellate Division, Fourth Department. These appeals arise from orders issued by the Family Court.

How long does the appellate process take?

The Appellate Division, Fourth Department assigns the Appeals and Post-Conviction Unit to hundreds of appeals each year. In order to be fair to our clients, we work on the assignments in the order in which they were received, taking into consideration the date of the judgment of conviction. After receiving an assignment, the court file, transcripts of the proceedings, the presentence report, copies of evidence presented at the hearing and/or trial, and all relevant documentation are gathered.  Once the file is complete, a staff attorney is assigned to prefect the appeal.


         It is important to be aware that, although the process is lengthy, all of our staff attorneys are extremely skilled and dedicated advocates who are committed to zealously representing our clients and obtaining meaningful relief for them. Each client will be personally involved in their appeal and the assigned attorney will either visit their client or engage in confidential telephone call to discuss their case with them. The client will receive a copy of the brief to review before it is filed.


         After the brief is submitted to the Appellate Division, there is a waiting period of several months before it is orally argued and reviewed by the appellate court. The amount of time it takes the court to render a decision varies, but is not less than an additional four to six weeks.

What is a CPL 440 motion and am I entitled to have one filed on my behalf?

A CPL 440 motion is a collateral appeal of the judgment of conviction involving matters outside the record on appeal that could, therefore, not be raised in the direct appeal. Our experienced staff attorneys will thoroughly review each client’s file and decide whether it is appropriate to file a CPL 440 motion on their behalf.

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