Appeals General Information
An appeal is when someone that loses at least part of a case asks a higher court to review the decision. This is called “to appeal”. The person that files the appeal is called the “appellant”. The other person is called the “respondent”. Generally in an appeal, a higher court reviews the order or judgment of a lower court to see if there was enough evidence to support the judgment or whether errors of law were committed during or before trial, which prejudiced the appealing party.
- If the original decision was made by the Superior Court in an unlimited civil case, family law, probate, juvenile or a felony case type, the appeal is to the District Court of Appeals.
- If the decision being appealed from was in a limited civil case, traffic infraction or a misdemeanor case type, the appeal is to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.
The higher court has the authority to affirm, reverse or modify the decision/judgment rendered by the lower court. It is not a new trial. Parties cannot introduce new evidence, witnesses or testimony and are limited to what happened in the lower court.
How much time do I have to file my appeal?
Time limits are "jurisdictional," meaning that the court has no power to allow additional time for filing the notice of appeal.
|Civil Limited Jurisdiction
|Civil Unlimited Jurisdiction
|Criminal – Felony
(Notice of Intent to file Writ Petition)
|Death Penalty PC1239(b)
How do I file my Appeal and where?
An appeal for landlord tenant, misdemeanor, traffic infraction or limited civil should be filed in the appeals division or may be filed in the division where the case was heard. These cases are heard by the Appellate Division.
Appeals filed for unlimited civil, family law, probate, guardianship, felony, and juvenile cases can be filed in the Appeals Division or in division where the case was heard. All of these matters will be heard by the District Court of Appeal. To file an appeal on a small claims case you would go to the District where your case was heard and notify them that you want to appeal the decision made by the court.
Who may file an appeal?
Small Claims – The plaintiff has no appeal rights in a small claims case. Only the defendant may file an appeal. The exception to this is if the defendant files a cross complaint; the plaintiff may file an appeal on the cross complaint.
Limited Civil - Any party to the action.
Misdemeanor – District Attorney, defendant or attorney on behalf of the defendant.
Infraction - Defendant.
Unlimited Civil – Any party to the action.
Criminal/Felony – District Attorney, defendant or attorney on behalf of the defendant.
How do I appeal a small claims case?
In some cases, such as an appeal from a small claims court, the Superior Court will conduct what is called a “Trial De Novo”, meaning a “trail from the beginning”. In these cases, the reviewing court is not bound by the decision of the small claims judge and new evidence can be presented. To appeal your small claims case you would go to the District where your case was heard and notify them that you want to appeal the decision made by the court.
How do I appeal a parking ticket?
If you received a parking ticket, and have exhausted all remedies through the citing agency; you may open a new civil case filing in the court that has jurisdiction over the citing agency. Filing fees may be applicable.
What is included in the record on appeal for a misdemeanor or traffic case?
The "Record on Appeal" in a misdemeanor case consists of those items listed in Rule 8.861. In an infraction case, the record on appeal consists of items listed in Rule 8.912.
(Where the appellant wishes to use a statement on appeal in lieu of a reporter's transcript or electronic recording Rule 8.869, he or she must prepare, serve and file a "Proposed Statement" within 20 days after filing the notice regarding the record of oral proceedings).
This statement, described in Rule 8.869 (misdemeanor), 8.916 (infractions), 8.837 (limited civil) includes the following:
- The grounds for the appeal (i.e. a statement of the legal errors the appellant believes were made by the court)
- A statement that the appellant intends to request an official transcript of the trial or proceeding being appealed from, or statement summarizing the evidence or trial proceedings relevant to each ground for the appeal. If the trial was recorded, the appellant can obtain a copy of the recording and produce his or her own summary. If a court reporter was present, the appellant can request that the reporter make a transcript of the trial or other proceedings being appealed from.
See Judicial Council forms CR-135 (misdemeanor) or CR-143 (infraction) that can be used for this Proposed Statement in misdemeanor or infraction cases.
On an infraction case if the appellant elects to use a reporter’s transcript, the appellant will be required to post a deposit with the court to cover the cost of the transcript.
The Prosecuting Attorney / Agency has the right to filed proposed amendments to the appellant’s Proposed Statement on Appeal, and the trial judge can correct, change or re-write the statement so it fairly describes the evidence and proceedings in the trial court.
How do I proceed with my appeal on a limited civil case?
Within 10 days of filing the notice of the appeal, the appellant must tell the trial court clerk in writing what documents and oral proceedings (if any) to include in the record that will be sent to the Appellate Division. (See Judicial Council form APP-103)
The "Clerk’s Transcript" is a compilation of the documents filed in the lower court. The notice filed by the appellant within 10 days of filing the notice of appeal designates which records from the trial court file he or she wants submitted to the Appellate Division. If no specific documents are designated, the clerk of the appeals division will prepare the records described in CRC Rule 8.831. A "Reporter’s Transcript" is a verbatim record of the oral proceedings in the court. A reporter’s transcript is not required for an appeal (since a "statement on appeal" can be used where the proceedings were not recorded by a court reporter or can be effectively summarized without a verbatim transcript), but if the reporter’s transcript is requested, the estimated fees must be deposited by all parties requesting a copy of the reporters transcript. Where the appellant wants to appeal an issue that requires consideration of the oral proceedings (including jury instructions given or refused) he or she must include as part of the designation of records a notice to prepare a reporter’s transcript of the oral proceedings. See Rule 8.834. This notice must identify the date of each proceeding to be included in the transcript. The trial court clerk transmits this notice to the court reporter(s) that was present at the designated proceeding(s), and the court reporter notifies the appellant of the estimated cost of preparing the reporter’s transcript. Within 10 days after notification by the reporter of the cost of the transcript, the appellant must deposit that amount with the clerk.
If the appellant chooses not to request a reporter's transcript and to instead proceed with an "agreed" or "proposed" statement summarizing the evidence or proceedings on which the appeal is based, he or she can proceed as described in Rules 8.836 or 8.837.
How do I get counsel appointed to handle my appeal?
Pursuant to CRC 8.851, any defendant who is convicted of a misdemeanor and subject to incarceration or a fine of more than $500, or who is "likely to suffer significant adverse collateral consequences as a result of the conviction," can apply for appointment of counsel on appeal. If such defendant is eligible for a fee waiver [see Judicial Council form 982(a)(17)(A) for information on fee waivers], the Appellate Division "shall" appoint counsel.
What is an opening brief and how do I get to that stage in my appeal?
Once the record of the trial court’s proceedings have been prepared, the trial court clerk forwards that record to the Clerk of the Appellate Division for processing. The Appellate Clerk will notify the parties of the briefing schedule (i.e. the dates by which the appellant’s opening brief, the respondent’s brief, and the appellant’s reply brief, are due) . Generally Rule 8.882 gives a party appealing to the Superior Court Appellate Division 30 days from when the record on appeal is transmitted to the Appellate Division in which to file an opening brief. Per Rule 8.883, the opening brief must concisely describe the law and facts relied on by the appellant in claiming that the trial court erred in making the judgment or order being appealed from. As noted above, function of an appellate court is to review errors of law, not to make factual determinations. A trial court judgment or order will only be reversed if the court made an erroneous ruling on a legal issue or if there was "no substantial evidence" to support the judgment. The opening brief must explain the legal basis for asking the appellate court to reverse the trial court’s judgment or order, with specific reference to the parts of the record and case law or statute supporting each argument made in the appeal.
Where can I find forms?
Where do I find the procedures that apply to appeals?
The procedures that apply to appeals are found in California Rules of Court.
For rules governing appeals to the Appellate Division of Superior Court from limited civil cases start at C.R.C. Rule 8.820.
For small claims appeals see the rules beginning at CRC Rule 8.950.
For misdemeanor cases see rules beginning at CRC Rule 8.850 and on infraction cases the rules start at CRC 8.900.
Unlimited civil appeals are guided by rules starting at CRC 8.100.
Criminal (Felony) see the start of CRC8.300.
The rules on Juvenile appeals begin at CRC8.400.
Are there costs for filing an appeal?
Depending upon the case type there may be costs.