There are two common types of Washington State appeals, both with their own unique rules and procedures:

Direct Appeal

Direct appeals are what you generally think of as an appeal. At its most basic level, it is asking a higher court to review the decisions of the lower court. In most cases, you have an absolute right to appeal once.

  • Only a final decision can be appealed, which usually means a guilty verdict in a criminal case or an order of suspension from an administrative hearing (RALJ 2.2).
  • An appeal is not available to a defendant who enters a plea of guilty in a criminal case.  In order to challenge an error in such situations, a motion for relief from judgment may be an option.  This procedure operates differently from an appeal (CrRLJ 7.4, 7.5, 7.8).
  • Appealing the denial of a petition for deferred prosecution, the conditions imposed if granted, and/or the failure to terminate jurisdiction involves unique concerns and will likely need to be addressed via a writ action.


Writs are methods by which you can challenge an alleged error that does not result in a final decision of the case. The most common example is where the court makes a ruling on a legal issue before the case goes to trial or a guilty plea is entered.

  • This procedure is considered an extraordinary remedy and the burden on the person asking for the writ is high, but it provides an option to challenge decisions that don’t otherwise qualify under the rules for appeal.
  • A personal restraint petition is likewise used in the appellate courts when relief is needed where other avenues for challenge don’t apply for individuals who are under some type of restraint or restriction by the government (RAP Title 16).