How to Appeal a Criminal Conviction in Wisconsin

Posted by Attorney Stangl on January 12, 2015


The process of appealing a criminal conviction in Wisconsin can be complicated, especially for those who haven’t been through it before. One missed step or overlooked detail can spell disaster for your chances of getting a case heard before an appellate court.

 If you’re considering appealing a criminal conviction here in Wisconsin, it’s crucial to understand that an experienced Wisconsin appeals attorney is essential to your chances of being successful with your appeal. Experienced attorneys have been through the process many times before and can identify and articulate the errors that occurred during your trial.

For a quick introduction to the appeals process, let’s explore the four main steps to go through when filing.


A guilty verdict can seem like a bitter ending to a legal ordeal, but each year over a thousand people who find themselves in such a situation here in Wisconsin file for a criminal appeal and keep the legal proceedings alive. According to data from the Wisconsin Courts System, over 1300 criminal appeals were filed in Wisconsin alone in 2013.



"If you feel like your attorney may have made a mistake that essentially caused you harm, you want to pursue that issue on appeal."

-Attorney Pat Stangl


1. File a notice of intent

You, the appellant must file a notice of intent to pursue post-conviction relief within twenty days of sentencing. This will reserve your right to appeal the guilty verdict in the first place. With a little over two weeks to file this notice, it’s important make a decision relatively quickly.

To learn more, watch the video, "The Appellant's Guide to Post-Conviction Relief in Wisconsin" by Stangl Law.

2. Decide whether or not to pursue another form of relief

The notice of intent informs the court that you do in fact intend to appeal your case. After doing so, you may decide to pursue a different form of relief like a motion to withdraw a guilty plea or have your sentence modified or overturned.

These may be relevant to your case depending on your situation, so be sure to consult with an appeals attorney to be sure you’re pursuing the path that’s right for you.

If you do intend to seek another form of relief, you’ll need to file the motion with the circuit court. After filing, the court will have 60 days to rule on it.

Did you know you have the right to appeal your case? Read the article, "Exploring Your Right to Appeal a Criminal Conviction in Wisconsin" by Stangl Law to learn more.

3. File an official notice of appeal and prepare an appellant’s brief

The next step is filing an official notice of appeal. This is a document filed with the court and given to the appellee––the other party involved in the case. You’ll then work with your attorney to create and file an appellant brief.

This document will include the following for the court to review:

  • The facts of your case
  • The grounds for review
  • The arguments relating to the questions you’re bringing up

The appellant brief must specifically discuss the errors that you believe give you the right to a reversal and discuss why each ruling was incorrect. Be aware appellate courts can only decides on the issues you bring before them and nothing else, so completeness is key to your chances of a reversal.

You may also be interested in the video, "3 Things You Should Know Before Appealing a Criminal Conviction in Wisconsin" by Stangl Law.

4. The review process, hearing and determination

Once the District Court of Appeals receives the appellant’s brief, they have no time restrictions on making a decision, so be aware that it may be some time.

During the hearing, each side may present an oral argument. These usually take ten to fifteen minutes per side and give both you and the other party the opportunity to persuade the court to rule one way or the other.

The appellate court can do many different things when issuing a ruling. If your case is particularly strong, they may completely affirm, modify, reverse or remand the case for a new trial. “Modifying” a decision means that they agree with parts of the trial court’s decision but found certain parts of it to be erroneous and are modifying it accordingly.

Remember, appealing a criminal conviction in Wisconsin requires you to follow a very strict legal process which requires extreme attention to detail that only an experienced Madison appeals lawyer can bring.

If you believe your criminal conviction is the result of an erroneous trial, it’s extremely important to consult with an experienced Wisconsin appeals attorney who can help you communicate those errors to a higher court. Click here to contact Attorney Patrick Stangl for a free consultation.

FREE Consultation to Discuss Your Appeal

With over 25 years of experience, Attorney Pat Stangl has a proven record of success in appeals and criminal defense. Working from his office in Madison and Hayward, Attorney Stangl actively represents clients across the state of Wisconsin.

If you'd like to appeal your criminal conviction in Wisconsin and want to learn more about your options, Attorney Stangl is pleased to offer a FREE 15-minute consultation to discuss your case. Simply click below to request yours today.

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Topics: Other Criminal Charges, Appeals



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