Criminal Appeals


If a defendant is convicted and sentenced, what recourse is available after conviction? Well, no matter what happens in District Court or Circuit Court, there is always the option to appeal the case to a higher court. The appeal process varies depending on whether the case was heard initially in District Court or in Circuit Court. In addition to an appeal, a defendant may be able to have a court reconsider a sentence or may have a three judge panel review a sentence. But one needs to act quickly as there are time limitations to file for relief. If you, a loved one or a family member was convicted through a trial or plea, contact attorney Christopher Peretti today at 301-875-3472 to set up a free consultation discussing all your available post-conviction options.

District Court Appeals to the Circuit Court

Maryland is one of the few jurisdictions in the country where an appeal from District Court is heard de novo, or from the beginning, in Circuit Court. If the defendant is not happy with the result of a trial or plea in District Court and wants to appeal it, the case will be set in Circuit Court and will start again from scratch. A defendant can lose a trial in District Court, appeal to Circuit Court, and then have another brand new trial in Circuit Court. In Maryland, a defendant effectively has two bites at the apple to get a favorable result. An experienced trial attorney can represent you on an appeal and potentially obtain a better outcome than what happened in District Court.

Circuit Court Appeals

Appeals from Circuit Court are handled differently than those from District Court. Cases from Circuit Court are appealed to the Court for Special Appeals. These cases are reviewed by the Court of Special Appeals based on what already happened in Circuit Court. There is no additional trial held. Rather, the attorney handling the defendant’s appeal reviews the transcript, record, and all exhibits and juror notes from the trial. The attorney determines what potential issues exist–for example, where the trial judge made a mistake on an objection–and files an appellate brief on the issues of merit. Typically there is an oral argument where the attorney gets the chance to present the case to the judges in the Court of Special Appeals. If successful, the Court of Special Appeals may determine that there was harmful error at the trial, and the defendant may be granted a new trial, or other relief, in Circuit Court.

Motion for Reconsideration

In addition to or in lieu of an appeal, a defendant can request that the trial judge revisit his sentence at a later date. This can be an effective and reasonable means of getting relief instead of a full-blown appeal. On a motion for reconsideration the judge can only reduce the defendant’s sentence, so there is no risk to requesting relief through this avenue.

Three Judge Panel Sentencing Review

For sentences in Circuit Court, a defendant can request and have a three judge panel of Circuit Court judges review the sentence. The three judge panel is not bound by the trial judge’s sentence and can issue any sentence. There is risk involved pursing this relief because the three judge panel can issue a longer or harsher sentence than the defendant received from the trial judge.

For a consultation regarding your options for an appeal, do not delay! Contact our office today at 301-875-3472.