“Can’t say enough good things about this firm”


My son was not represented well by his first attorney and received an unusually high sentence. We sought out Mr. Dixon to appeal this sentence. He and his staff were wonderful to us and to my son during the long appeal process. Through phone calls and emails he kept us informed of every step of the journey. Can’t say enough good things about this firm. Now my son has been re-sentenced (to a lot less years).”


As posted by former client on AVVO

Over 50 years of combined legal experience

Criminal Appeals


What is a criminal appeal, and where is it heard?


A criminal appeal is a challenge to a conviction or sentence from a lower court. If a conviction or sentence is from municipal or district court, then a superior court judge hears your case and decides the appeal. If a conviction or sentence is from superior court, then the State Court of Appeals hears your case and decides the appeal.

What kind of issues can be raised in a criminal appeal?


What kind of issues can be raised in a criminal appeal?


Most rulings and judgments can be challenged on appeal. We have obtained new trials, new sentencing hearings, or outright dismissals on issues such as:


  • Prosecutorial misconduct
  • Inadequate legal representation
  • Improper admission of unlawfully obtained statements or evidence
  • The court’s unfair restrictions on cross-examination
  • Improper admission of prejudicial character evidence
  • The court’s failure to give a proposed defense instruction
  • Insufficient evidence to support a conviction
  • Double jeopardy violations
  • Improper exceptional sentences


What can I do if I was pressured into pleading guilty?

You can file a motion in the trial court to set aside the guilty plea. If you were misadvised about the consequences of a plea, or if you were improperly pressured into taking a plea deal, it may be possible to set aside that plea. To be valid, a plea must be a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent decision.


Can I introduce new evidence in a criminal appeal?

No. A criminal appeal is limited to the evidence presented in the trial court. It may be possible to introduce new evidence through a collateral attack.


What is a collateral attack?

A collateral attack is a way to challenge a conviction with evidence that was not presented in the trial court. Common forms of collateral attack include: Personal Restraint Petitions (PRPs), Motions for New Trials, and Motions to Set Aside Guilty Pleas. One of the disadvantages of a collateral attack is that there is a greater burden on the defense to prove that the error at trial had an impact on the jury.


When do I need to file a notice of appeal or a collateral attack?

There are strict time limits for filing an appeal or a collateral attack. For most criminal matters, the following timelines apply.


Appeals: A notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days following your sentencing hearing.


Collateral Attack: A collateral attack must be filed within one year of when the judgment became final. For purposes of a collateral attack, the date when a judgment becomes final depends upon a number of factors and it is important to consult with an attorney to make sure deadlines are met in a timely fashion.


How long does a criminal appeal take, and what is the appellate process?


As a general rule, the appellate process takes about a year to complete, although appeals relating solely to the length of a sentence are often decided within six to nine months. The appellate process has several steps:


Obtain Transcripts: Your attorney contacts the various court reporters and orders the transcripts. Typically, it takes 45 to 60 days to receive transcripts, but lengthy trials may take much longer.


Review Transcripts: Your attorney reviews the transcripts for all possible errors that can be raised on appeal.


Research and File Briefs: Your attorney researches the applicable law and prepares an opening brief based on the errors found in the transcript. Then a prosecutor files a response, and your attorney has the opportunity to file a reply brief.

Court of Appeals Decides: After your attorney and the prosecutor submit and reply to all the briefs, the court of appeals either schedules the case for oral argument, or sends out notice that the case is going to be decided without oral argument. All Court of Appeals’ decisions are in writing, and typically the court decision is issued about a month after arguments are heard.


Petition for Review at the Supreme Court: If you do not prevail at the court of appeals, you have 30 days to ask the Washington Supreme Court to accept review of your case. If the request for review is not filed within 30 days, the court of appeals issues a mandate, which means the appeal is over and the judgment is final.


Will I have to serve my time while my case is on appeal?

It depends. The trial court can stay the sentence and allow you to remain out of custody while the case is on appeal, but you may be required to post bail. The trial court can also deny an appeal bond. You can challenge the denial of an appeal bond, but the court of appeals rarely overrules the trial court on this issue.


Why should I retain Dixon & Cannon, ltd for my appeal or collateral attack on my conviction?


  • We have the necessary legal expertise and history of success to ensure the best representation possible.
  • We limit the number of cases we accept to ensure each case receives the attention it deserves.
  • We do not rely on only Washington State cases, but search through the caselaw of other states, and professional journals as well, to ensure our clients obtain the best possible outcome on appeal.
  • We have the technology and electronic research tools needed to support our arguments with the most persuasive authorities.


James Dixon handles the appeals and post conviction motions for Dixon & Cannon, Ltd. He has represented hundreds of clients before the Court of Appeals and Washington State Supreme Court. He has successfully challenged convictions ranging from driving with a suspended license to murder in the first degree.

As a result of his successes, James Dixon has been requested to speak at legal conferences, and has been retained by other attorneys for advice when filing motions at the trial and sentencing stages of cases. For more information about his appellate success, see a representative list of James Dixon’s appeals.

If you have questions about a criminal appeal or collateral attack, call us for a FREE 30-minute initial consultation at 206-957-2247.



Dixon & Cannon, Ltd. is licensed to practice law in the States of Arizona and Washington. This Web site is created for your general information only and does not represent legal advice. An attorney-client relationship between you and our law firm is not created by you reading this information or calling us. If we decide to work together, we sign a contract to establish our attorney-client relationship.

Criminal Defense


Dixon & Cannon, Ltd

Downtown Seattle Office

Dixon & Cannon, Ltd.

601 Union Street, Suite 3230

Seattle WA 98101