Seals of the Court of Appeals and Superior Court
District of Columbia Courts

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A LAWYER

An appeal to the DC Court of Appeals (DCCA) is a new step in your case. The DCCA reviews what the trial court or agency decided to determine whether the trial court or agency made a mistake. Generally, the DCCA focuses on whether the trial judge or agency correctly applied the law. The DCCA usually accepts the trial court’s or agency’s findings of fact and determinations about who to believe. The DCCA does not accept evidence or documents that were not put into the record at the trial or agency proceedings.

An Appeal has three basic stages:

During these steps, you must follow the DC Court of Appeals Rules.

Because of the special nature of an appeal, it is particularly helpful for individuals seeking appellate review to be represented by a lawyer.

Click here to learn more about the types of cases you can appeal and how to start an appeal.

 

Who may qualify for court-appointed counsel

Parties in certain cases qualify for court- appointed counsel:
  • In criminal cases:
    • A defendant will automatically be appointed counsel on appeal if the defendant: (1) was previously determined to be eligible for court-appointed counsel in Superior Court, (2) is not represented by retained counsel, and (3) is appealing a felony and misdemeanor conviction, an order detaining a defendant prior to trial, the revocation of probation or parole, or an order of extradition.
    • If a defendant did not complete income eligibility screening in Superior Court and seeks to appeal any of the matters described in (3) above, the defendant may complete a motion to proceed in forma pauperis to request the appointment of counsel. In addition, the court may decide to appoint counsel to income eligible defendants in other criminal matters, such as a denial of a motion to re-sentence or an appeal from a collateral attack (DC Code §11-2601).
  • In certain family cases:
    • A juvenile who has been found delinquent or in need of supervision will be automatically appointed counsel on appeal by the court.
    • A party (a child, parent, guardian, or custodian) who was appointed counsel in Superior Court in a neglect or termination of parental rights case will be automatically appointed counsel on appeal. If the party was not appointed counsel in Superior Court, the party may complete a motion to proceed in forma pauperis to request appointment of counsel on appeal (DC Code §16-2304).

Finding legal representation

If you are not eligible for court-appointed counsel, see resources below for finding legal representation.

Online resources: The District of Columbia Bar has helpful information on its website about how to find a lawyer, how lawyers might charge for their services, and legal services organizations that may provide representation for free or only a minimal fee. Click here for more information about working with a lawyer. 

Telephone resources: The DC Bar Pro Bono Center has a Legal Information Help Line, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which features recorded messages on 30 legal topics and includes references to other available sources of information on finding a lawyer. The telephone number for the Legal Information Help Line is 202-626-3499.

Organizations that may provide legal help

LawHelp.org/DC, a public service of the DC Bar Pro Bono Center, provides information on legal resources in the District of Columbia. For information on appeals resources, click here.