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Boston University Law Review

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criminal law, appeals, empirical, state court, misdemeanor


Criminal Law | Law


We provide the first estimate of the rate of appellate review for misdemeanors, concluding that appellate courts review no more than eight in ten thousand misdemeanor convictions and disturb only one conviction or sentence out of every ten thousand misdemeanor judgments. This level of oversight is much lower than that for felony cases, for reasons we explain. To develop law and regulate error in misdemeanor cases, particularly in prosecutions for the lowest-level offenses, courts may need to provide mechanisms for judicial scrutiny outside the direct appeal process.

Additional findings include new information about the rate of felony trial court review of lower court misdemeanor cases; ratios of appeals to convictions for various misdemeanor-crime categories; detailed descriptive information about misdemeanor cases that reach state appellate courts; the results of a complete statistical analysis examining which features are significantly associated with a greater or lesser likelihood of success, including crime type, claim raised, judicial-selection method, and type of representation; and the first quantitative look at how misdemeanor appeals differ from felony appeals.

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Criminal Law Commons



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