There are two common types of Washington State appeals, both with their own unique rules and procedures:
A direct appeal is the most common way to challenge and adverse decision. At its most basic level, this type of appeal asks a higher court to review the decision(s) of the lower court or administrative tribunal. In most cases, you have an absolute right to have your appeal heard in the next highest level of court.
- 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 or RAP 2.2).
- The government’s ability to appeal an adverse ruling in the lower court is limited to circumstances where the decision being appealed effectively terminates the prosecution or in cases where the State elects to cross-appeal on a specific issue in response to a defendant’s initial appeal.
- Appeals are generally not available to defendants who enter guilty pleas in a criminal case. In those 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 or CrR 7.4, 7.5 or 7.8).
- Appealing the denial of a petition for deferred prosecution, or one conditioned on unlawful terms, or refusals to terminate jurisdiction each involve unique concerns and will likely need to be addressed via a writ action.
Writs and Personal Restraint Petitions (PRPs)
The writ is a method used to challenge an error that does not result in a final decision or is not otherwise appealable. This most commonly occurs where the court rules 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 person asking for the writ has a high standard to meet.
- A personal restraint petition is used in the appellate courts for relief by individuals who are under some type of restraint or restriction by the government and other avenues for challenge don’t apply (RAP Title 16).
- There are time limits on filing these kinds of actions. Most writs must be filed within the same time frame as an appeal would have to be filed – usually 30 days from the date the court enters the adverse order. Under RCW 10.73.090 PRP’s must generally be filed within one-year under but a narrow class of cases may be exempt from this limitation under RCW 10.73.100.