Once convicted and sentenced, you will have certain appellate rights remaining. The preparation and filing of appeals is rule driven and based upon the record of the case. You will not have much involvement in the filing of your appeals. Often, you will have waived many of your appeal rights in order to obtain a favorable plea agreement. Only upon conviction after a trial do you maintain all of your appellate rights concerning your guilt and your sentence. Preparation of any type of appeal is time consuming, complex, and requires, dedication.
Your first level of appeal is to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the district in which you were prosecuted and convicted. Your notice of appeal must be filed within 14 days of your sentence becoming final. Simply stated, at the first level you can appeal any issues preserved as a result of a conditional plea agreement, judicial error, and/or any known, record based prosecutorial misconduct. From the Circuit Court of Appeals, you can request to have your appeal heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court does not accept very many.
Your second level of appeal involves any matter recognizable under 28 U.S.C. §2255 or more commonly known as a Habeas Corpus Appeal. Most often, §2255 is used to obtain new trials based upon after discovered evidence, ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, and a change in sentencing law. An appeal using §2255 is about the criminal case, but also has a civil component to it. Therefore, §2255 appeals are first heard by the same U.S. District Court Judge that presided over your case. Thereafter, if you lose at the District Court level, you can file an appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the U.S. Supreme Court as mentioned above.
If you wish to appeal any aspect of your case after sentencing, time is of the essence. Federal court requires that an appeal be filed within 14 days.