The Appellate Process- Direct Appeal 2017-07-30T16:02:12+00:00

The Appellate Process- Direct Appeal

In Illinois, the main method of review in a criminal case is by a direct appeal. The party appealing is known as the appellant and the adverse party as the appellee. Appealing a case is a very time consuming and expensive undertaking that requires strict adherence to procedural rules.

Court to Which Appeal is Taken

Generally, all cases are appealed to the Appellate Court of Illinois, which is divided into five districts. The Supreme Court of Illinois has original jurisdiction in very limited situations such as when a circuit court holds a federal or state statute unconstitutional or when a circuit court makes a finding that a defendant is “mentally retarded” after a hearing conducted pursuant to section 114–15(f) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Motion for a New Trial

To preserve errors for appellate review, excluding sentencing errors, a motion for a new trial must be filed with the circuit court that raises all issues of error. Each error must be raised with specificity, otherwise, errors not raised in a motion for a new trial will be deemed forfeited by the appellate court. The motion for a new trial must be filed within 30 days of the finding of guilty.

Note: To properly preserve an issue for appeal a contemporaneous objection must be made at trial and the issue must then be raised with specificity in the motion for new trial.

Motion to Reconsider Sentence

To challenge the sentence imposed or to challenge the sentencing hearing a motion to reconsider sentence must be filed within 30 days of the imposition of sentence. Similar to the motion for a new trial, any issue regarding the sentence or the sentencing hearing not raised in the motion to reconsider sentence is forfeited for appellate review.

Perfection of Appeal

An appeal is perfected by the filing of a notice of appeal with the clerk of the circuit court. The notice must be signed by either the appellant or his attorney. The defendant may also request in open court when advised of a right to appeal or subsequently in writing, that the clerk of the circuit court prepare, sign, and file the notice of appeal on behalf of the defendant. In all cases, the notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the final order or judgment being appealed or 30 days after the post-trial motions are denied.  If a notice of appeal is untimely, the defendant forfeits his right to appeal.

Docketing Statement

Within 14 days after filing the notice of appeal and giving notice to the appellee’s attorney, the appellant must file with the clerk of the appellate court a docketing statement, together with proof of service and the required filing fee of $25. The filing of a docketing statement is not a jurisdiction step in perfecting an appeal. Indeed, the filing of a notice of appeal is the only step required for the appellate court to gain jurisdiction.


The appeals process is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor that is fraught with procedural rules that must be strictly followed or risk having the Appellate Court strike the appeal. If you or your loved one is seeking justice at a higher court, contact Jaleel Law P.C. to schedule your free consultation with a former appellate prosecutor.