Steps to Appeal

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READ FIRST: This Web page gives you only general information about appeals in limited and unlimited civil cases. It does NOT deal with criminal appeals, small claims appeals, or appeals of infractions or misdemeanors. There is a lot more detailed information about appeals, rules, and requirements on the websites for the Courts of Appeal and the superior court appellate divisions. You will find links to those websites in this section.

For information about appeals in other types of cases, visit:

Figuring out if you can appeal a civil case

To figure out if you can appeal a trial court's decision, there are three questions you have to consider: 


1. Are you a person who can appeal this decision?

Only a person or entity that was a party in the trial court case can appeal a decision made in that case. You may not appeal on behalf of a friend, a spouse, a child, or another relative unless you are a legally appointed representative for that person (such as a guardian or conservator).

2. Can the decision in your case be appealed?

You can appeal the trial court's final judgment in a case. The final judgment is the decision at the end that decides the whole the case. The final judgment usually says what 1 or more parties must do (like pay money to the other party). This judgment may be a decision by the judge or by a jury. All final judgments are appealable.

You can also appeal most orders that the trial court makes after the final judgment, like, for example, a child custody order made after the divorce is final. In most cases, however, decisions made by the trial court before the final judgment cannot be appealed right away; they can only be reviewed as part of an appeal of the final judgment. There are some exceptions to this rule. In family law and probate cases, many of the orders made in a case can be appealed right away (even if they are made before the final judgment).

For other the types of orders that can be appealed right away (before final judgment), read Code of Civil Procedure sections 904.1 and 904.2.

3. Do you still have time to appeal?

In a limited civil case (civil cases involving an amount that is $25,000 or less), you must file your notice of appeal by the earliest of the following times:

  1. 30 days after either the trial court clerk or the other side serves you notice that the judgment has been entered in your case or a copy of the judgment stamped "Filed," or
  2. 90 days after the entry of the judgment.


In unlimited civil cases (such as civil cases involving an amount over $25,000 or family law cases), you must file your notice of appeal by the earliest of the following times:

  1. 60 days after either the trial court clerk or the other side serves you with notice that the judgment has been entered in your case or with a copy of the judgment stamped "Filed," or
  2. 180 days after the entry of the judgment.

Make sure you meet these deadlines. You cannot ask for more time to file your notice of appeal. If your notice of appeal is late, your appeal will be dismissed. Click to find out if the deadline to file a notice of appeal can ever be extended.

If the answer to these 3 questions is yes, learn about Filing the Notice of Appeal.

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