What are the Standards of Appellate Review for California Criminal Cases?

March 1, 2023

In the criminal justice system, appellate review is the process by which a higher court reviews the decision of a lower court to ensure that the case was decided correctly. In California, there are different standards of appellate review that apply depending on the type of case and the issues that are being appealed. This article will discuss the three main standards of appellate review that are used in California criminal cases: de novo review, abuse of discretion, and substantial evidence.

The first standard of appellate review is de novo review. This standard applies when a case is being reviewed on appeal for the first time and there is no previous ruling on the issue. Under de novo review, the appellate court will review the case as if it were the first time the case was heard. The court will consider all the evidence and make its own findings of fact and conclusions of law. This standard is used when a case involves issues of law, such as the interpretation of a statute or the constitutionality of a law.

The second standard of appellate review is abuse of discretion. Under abusive discretion, the appellate court will review the case to determine if the lower court made a decision that was clearly unreasonable or arbitrary. The court will consider the evidence that was presented at the trial and will determine if the lower court’s decision was reasonable under the circumstances. This standard is used when a case involves issues of discretion, such as the decision to grant or deny bail or the decision to impose a particular sentence.

The third standard of appellate review is substantial evidence. Under substantial evidence, the appellate court will review the case to determine if the lower court’s decision was supported by substantial evidence. The court will consider the evidence that was presented at the trial and will determine if there was enough evidence to support the lower court’s decision. This standard is used when a case involves issues of fact, such as the guilt or innocence of the defendant.

It’s worth noting that in California, criminal appeals are reviewed by the California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court, which are the higher courts that review the decision of the trial court. Appellate courts also have the power to reverse, affirm or modify the decision of the lower court. The standard of review used by the appellate court will depend on the issues being appealed and the type of case.

In addition, California has a system of automatic appeals for death penalty cases, meaning that all death penalty cases are automatically reviewed by the California Supreme Court. This court reviews the entire record of the lower court proceedings, including the transcript of the trial, to ensure that the death penalty was imposed fairly and that no errors were made during the trial.

If you or a loved one were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense in California, then contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call us to speak with an experienced Orange County criminal appeals attorney.

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