The trial is over and judgment has been rendered. Whether yours was a civil or criminal case, if that judgment goes against you – resulting in a criminal sentence, a fine, or other adverse court order – you still have options.
First, of course, is the appeal. Simply put, if you lost your case, you have the right to appeal the decision. An appeal is the appellate court review process that can identify lower court errors or interpret or clarify applicable law. What are the possible results of successful appeals in Indiana? Typically, the lower court ruling could be set aside or overturned, and/or a new trial could be called for.
But appeals can often take months to be resolved. What happens in the meantime? If you were sentenced to prison, you would likely be required to begin serving your time. If you were directed to make financial restitution, you would probably have to do that before the appeal could go through the system. If the judgment would force you to sell your home, you would need to start that process right away. Scenarios like these could be right after the trial court ruling unless you could somehow put court orders on hold while your appeal is proceeding. The good news is that you can do just that (in most cases) by filing for a “motion for stay pending appeal.”
Defining a “Motion for Stay Pending Appeal”
Even if the verdict or judgment is unfair and your appeal ultimately succeeds, if you do not comply with the court’s ruling within the time frame directed by the court, you could be held in contempt. To potentially avoid this outcome and put the effects of the ruling on hold temporarily, you could seek a “stay” of the trial court’s order. Naturally, a “stay pending appeal” puts a pause on the commencement of sentencing and penalties while the appeal is in process.
Specifically, regarding appeals in Indiana, individuals seeking a stay pending appeal have two options for obtaining that stay. First, the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure grant a trial court judge the discretion to stay (that is, to delay) execution or enforcement of the order pending its appeal. For that to happen, the person seeking the stay must file a motion with the trial court that issued the order being appealed.
Beyond this first step, the Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure allows an individual to seek a stay pending appeal directly with the Court of Appeals. The general rule for this option, however, is that before this request can be filed with the Court of Appeals, the motion for stay pending appeal must first be made with the trial court as noted. Normally, the petitioner must await the trial court’s decision on the motion. However, the person filing for the motion can file directly to the Court of Appeals while awaiting the lower court decision IF 1) the trial court has failed to rule within a reasonable time, or 2) extraordinary circumstances exist.
What Follows a “Motion to Stay Granted?”
What happens after your motion for stay pending appeal is filed? Generally, courts will grant the stay unless there is no basis for the appeal.
It is, therefore, likely the stay will be granted. When granted, it results in a “stay of execution.” While this sounds like it might apply only to death penalty cases, the word “execution” in this sense simply means the fulfillment of the lower court ruling’s sentencing or other penalties. For appeals in Indiana, a stay of execution has the effect of preventing all facets of the judgment from being processed while the appeal continues. Further, the trial court whose ruling is being appealed cannot, during this time, modify the judgment.
Naturally, if the lower court ruling is upheld by the appellate court, the stay ends and sentencing or other penalties can proceed as originally handed down. If the ruling was overturned on appeal, however (favoring the party making the appeal), it is likely that punishment or other punitive measures which resulted from the initial ruling are unenforceable within the scope of the lower court’s verdict. It is important to note, however, that a successful appeal could force a re-trial.
A motion for stay pending appeal can be complex and its outcome will depend primarily on the facts of the case. Thus, it is important to have qualified legal representation to ensure your filings are properly drafted to enhance your chances of success. Here are some other important considerations:
- Appeals are normally a legal right for litigants who did not win their case
- Likewise, a motion for stay pending appeal is normally granted barring unusual circumstances
- The motion for stay pending appeal is made first to the trial court where the case was initially heard; however, it can also be filed with the Court of Appeals if the lower court takes too long granting the stay or other extraordinary circumstances exist
- When a motion for stay is granted, it results in a “stay of execution” which prevents the fulfillment of the lower court ruling’s sentencing or other penalties while the appeal continues
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., our appellate attorneys leverage decades of collective experience handling appeals and filing motions to stay pending appeal. To learn more, contact us today at (317) 972-8000.
We believe that being an educated legal consumer can help you make the most of the legal experience in meeting your legal objectives. This blog post, for example, provides general educational material regarding a motion for stay pending appeal. This information is presented by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who practice throughout the State of Indiana. It is not a solicitation, nor is it intended to provide specific legal advice. It is an advertisement. Information contained herein is subject to change.