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Publication Federal Criminal Appeals, 1999, with Trends 1985-99

John Scalia, Bureau of Justice Statistics

April 1, 2001    NCJ 185055

Describes the increase in the appellate caseload as a result of challenges to the sentence imposed. Following implementation of the Federal Sentencing Reform Act, which opened the sentencing process to appellate review, the number of criminal appeals filed doubled. Most appeals are filed by the defendant. Also describes characteristics of district court cases that resulted in appellate action such as the proportion of defendants who originally pleaded guilty; the type of counsel representing the defendant; the sentence imposed; and the sentence in effect following successful appeals.


  • 95% of appeals were filed by the defendant; 5% by the government.
  • The criminal appeal rate peaked during 1993 to 23 appeals filed for every 100 convictions. Since 1993, the appeal rate has decreased to 16 per 100 convictions.
  • Of the criminal appeals concluded during 1999, 77% were terminated on the merits. District court decisions were at least partially affirmed in 85% of these cases.

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