As a client, you don’t need to worry about the details of the Washington State appeals process too much. In fact, you do not even need to appear the hearings (unlike most criminal proceedings). Your attorney will handle every step of the process. But for those that want more information about how an appeal moves through the system, some general information is below.
Washington State Appeal Deadlines
The person challenging an adverse decision has the burden to initiate the appeal and to provide the necessary documents to the appellate court.
- An appeal must be filed within thirty (30) days from the date the order or decision is entered.
- For criminal cases, this usually means the date of sentencing, unless simultaneous with conviction date.
- For administrative cases (DOL Hearings), it is the date the decision is issued, not the date that the suspension becomes effective.
- The filing deadline triggers a whole host of subsequent deadlines for the appellant, including specified time periods for filing a designation of record, a transcript of proceedings and briefing of the legal argument.
Initiating an Appeal
An appeal from a district or municipal court, or of an administrative suspension, must be filed in the Superior Court of the county in which the arrest was made. For a felony conviction, the appeal is automatically assigned to the Court of Appeals (the state is divided into three geographic regions, each assigned to one of the three divisions of the Court of Appeals).
The appeal initially takes the form of a “notice of appeal.” It identifies in general what the alleged errors are and provide the other party notice of what we plan to challenge. There is a filing fee (most counties charge a $230) that must be paid upfront on civil cases and writs (and possibly later in criminal cases), more for discretionary review to the Appellate and Supreme Court. The party initiating the appeal then has to notify the responding party that the appeal has been filed.
Timeline for Appeals
The length of time appeal can take varies widely. Some appeals are noted, briefed, argued and ruled on within 14 days. However, most take many months. Once the appeal is filed, then hearings must be transcribed, both parties are given a chance to brief the legal issues and subsequently respond to each other. Then an argument date must be scheduled with the court, the arguments held and a ruling issued. Sometimes the rulings are issued orally immediately after the arguments. Other times, judges take the time to issue written rulings days and weeks later. It can be a drawn out process.