How Long Do I Have to File an Appeal in Alabama?
Deadlines for filing Notice of Appeal
Determining how much time you have to file an appeal in Alabama can be more complicated than you might expect. While there are certain standard rules setting the time frames for filing appeals from various courts, certain procedural steps can affect the calculation of the deadlines for filing your appeal. For example, certain post-trial motions will stay the time period for filing Notice of Appeal until there is a ruling on the motion. However, if that motion is not ruled on within a certain period of time, then it may become denied by operation of law. This means that your appeal time could start running out while you are waiting for the judge to rule on your post-trial motion if you are not carefully watching the calendar. This error in calculating the deadline for filing Notice of Appeal is one of the most common mistakes trial lawyers make when transitioning a case into the appellate court system.
With that warning in mind and without factoring the affect of post-trial motions on the deadlines, the following time frames generally apply for filing Notice of Appeal:
- Circuit Court Criminal cases (usually felonies, but also misdemeanors that are in circuit court): 42 days from the date of sentencing.
- District Court Criminal cases (misdemeanors): 14 days from the date of sentencing. Note that district court criminal cases will normally be appealed to circuit court for a new trial (called a trial de novo), but they can be appealed directly to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in situations where you have an adequate court record.
- Circuit Court Civil cases – 42 days from entry of final judgment.
- District Court Civil cases – 14 days from entry of final judgment.
- Juvenile Court Criminal cases- 14 days from the date of sentencing.
- Juvenile Court Civil cases – 14 days from entry of judgment.
- Domestic Relations cases – 42 days or 14 days, depending on the situation. If the domestic relations case is a divorce or a post-divorce modification proceeding, then the time to appeal will be 42 days from the date of the family court’s final order. However, if it is a family court matter involving juvenile court issues such as a custody dispute between people who were never married or a child support case concerning a child born out of wedlock, then the time to appeal will be 14 days from the date of the trial court’s order.
There are many nuances to these rules and there are many situations where the time to appeal is actually shorter than the time periods listed above. To learn more about the appellate time frames that may apply to your case, be sure to read Rule 4 and Rule 5 of the Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure. To discuss having our office file an appeal in your case, please call us at (800) 737-3702 or fill out our online Contact form.