A Guilty Verdict is Not the End: Appealing a Conviction

Appealing a Conviction

A not-guilty verdict on all charges ends the battle in criminal court. A guilty verdict on some or all charges, however, can spell even further trouble, but it does not dictate the end.

Defendants who believe that they received an unfair trial, wrongful conviction, or unjust sentence have the right to challenge conviction through legal actions. A possible option is to file an appeal or to ask a higher court to review and change the decision of the lower court.

Criminal defense lawyers like David A. Nachtigall and may others practicing law are one with wrongfully convicted victims and advocate the right legal information in challenging convictions.

The Appellate Framework

The usual hierarchy of state courts involves trial courts and their appellate divisions, intermediate appellate courts consisting of three-judge panels, and the highest court, which has seven or nine justices. This framework is the same with federal courts, with the United States Supreme Court as the highest authority.

The intermediate appellate court may evaluate the case if, and only if, the convicted individuals follow the statutory time limits for asking an appeal. Some appeals, however, such as misdemeanors and infraction cases, may require supervision of the superior court’s appellate division.

The Appeal Process

When making an appeal, defendants have to assert that legal mistakes led to the jury’s decision and/or enforcement of a sentence. This is necessary to overturn a decision or to push the notion that retrial is best.

When evaluating an appeal, the court only looks at the “record” of proceedings in the lower court; they will not take new evidence into account. This record involves transcripts of what transpired in court, and assertions made by the judge, attorneys or witnesses. Documents and other articles of evidence recognized in the lower court is also included in the record.

Other than the record, the decision of the reviewing panel depends on the written briefs filed on both sides of the appeal. The defendant files an opening brief, stating the manner and reason in which the conviction or sentence became legally wrong.

Counter-arguing, the opposing party submits its own brief to argue the rationale behind the conviction or sentence. The appellant can respond to this and file a second brief. There will be a series of oral arguments from both parties before the court arrives at a decision.

A conviction does not spell the end for you. Consult a criminal appellate lawyer so you can have a strong support in challenging your conviction.

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