The Equal Protection Clause requires that individuals be afforded equal opportunities when exercising certain rights extended by the states. The United States Supreme Court has held that there is no meaningful distinction between denying individuals appellate review rights because they could not afford them, and denying them trial stage rights simply because they are indigent. Accordingly, when a state chooses to provide a form of appellate review, it is subject to the constitutional demands of equal protection. This means that states are required to provide counsel for an indigent’s first direct appeal. The Tulsa County Public Defender Appellate Division exists to fulfill this right.
The Appellate Division handles a variety of appellate issues. These include reviewing felony and misdemeanor trial convictions, revocation of suspended sentences, acceleration of deferred sentences, and denial of applications to withdraw guilty pleas. Our attorneys review the trial court records, including all exhibits, transcripts, and other documents, and raise the appropriate issues to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. We may also reply to the State’s briefs, engage in oral arguments before the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, and conduct evidentiary hearings.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS-APPELLATE DIVISION
Question: My family member has been sentenced by a Judge. Now what?
Answer: All criminal defendants are entitled to appeal a sentence. The appeals process will begin almost immediately after sentencing when the trial attorney files paperwork to start the appellate process.
Question: How long will an appeal take?
Answer: The entire appellate process can take up to a year or longer from the date of sentencing to obtain an opinion from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. This is due to getting transcripts of the trial proceedings, getting copies of all court documents, and then the time allowed the parties to file briefs.
Question: Will there be hearings before the Court of Criminal Appeals that can be attended?
Answer: Usually not. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals usually decides cases based on the document record before it.