An appeal is a legal proceeding, by which a case lost at trial court is brought before a higher court for review.
The appellate court has the authority to sustain, reverse or modify the decision or judgment.
Most appeals are limited to a review of the record from the lower court. Parties cannot introduce new evidence and are limited to what was said and introduced at the original proceeding/trial. The appellate court reviews the lower court's application of the law to the facts as presented.
There are two main grounds for appealing a decision:
- Evidence in the trial court was insufficient to justify the judgement/verdict.
- Errors of law were committed.
Some appeals do allow for a new trial without reference to the evidence submitted in the original proceedings. Such an appeal results in a trial de novo, meaning a trial from the beginning. Appeals from small claims court result in a trial de novo within the Superior Court. The judge is not bound by the decision of the judge who presided in the small claims proceeding, and new evidence can be presented.
The most important act in an appeal is the timely filing of the notice of appeal. This notice must be filed before the time expires. There are many time limits and regulations in proceeding with an appeal. Failure to meet some time limits may result in dismissal of your appeal. It is very important that you review the California Rules of Court for specific information on the time restrictions and requirements for filing a notice of appeal.
Who Can File an Appeal
Only a person or entity that was a party in the trial court proceeding can appeal a decision in that proceeding. You may not appeal on behalf of a friend, a spouse, a child, or another relative unless you are a legally appointed representative for that person (such as a guardian or conservator).
- Civil limited / unlimited: including domestic, probate and mental health; any party may file an appeal.
- Infraction, misdemeanor or felony: the defendant may file an appeal. In certain circumstances, the People of the State of California may file an appeal.
- Juvenile dependency / delinquency: any party may file an appeal.
- Small Claims: the defendant may file an appeal or the plaintiff may file an appeal on a defendant's claim.
A party may represent him- or herself (pro per) or select to be represented by an attorney. The party filing an appeal is called the Appellant. The party against whom an appeal is filed is called the Respondent.
How to File
Notify the court in writing by filing a Notice of Appeal.
Submit appropriate filing fees. If you cannot afford to pay court fees and costs, you may qualify for a waiver of those costs. You may obtain an Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs from the Clerk's Office. No filing fee is charged for filing an appeal of an infraction, misdemeanor or any juvenile appeals.
Deadlines for Filing
60 Days from order
- Limited Civil: 30 days from Order
- Unlimited Civil: 60 days from Order
Felony: 60 days from Order
- Misdemeanor: 30 days from Order
- Traffic: 30 days from Order
- Death Penalty cases: Automatic
- Notice of Intent to File a Writ Petition: 7 days from Order unless party filing was not present in Court on the day of the order and notified by mail, then it is 12 days from Order
- Notice of Appeal: 60 days from Order
60 Days from order