Guilty! It certainly is not the verdict that most defendants in a criminal case want to receive when standing trial. In fact, hearing that one single word can feel as if your life and future are coming grinding to a halt. However, before you lose all hope, remember that a guilty verdict does not have to be final. In fact, a skilled Criminal Attorney can help you make an appeal. The process of which you will find explained below.
Can you appeal?
First of all, if you want to appeal a guilty verdict, you must work out whether you are eligible to do so. In fact, there are several situations in which this will be allowed and some where it won’t.
For example, those that have pleaded guilty in their original trial may not be allowed to appeal the judgment. Unless the defendant can demonstrate that they did not receive the proper instruction from their Attorney relating to how this would affect their case.
However, all defendants whose cases are covered by a judge or trial do have the right to appeal the verdict. A right that particularly applies to anyone convicted to a death sentence.
It is also worth noting that because of the Double Jeopardy rule, the prosecution cannot appeal a verdict of not guilty awarded to a defendant in a criminal trial either. Something that means if you have been acquitted once by a court in the US, you will remain so.
Legitimate reasons for appeal
If you have established that you have the right to appeal your case, you must then find a reason to do so. Of course, this is where the notion of errors come in.
In fact, it is the errors in the way your case was handled and prosecuted that can form the basis of your appeal. Although not every error will be relevant here. In fact, only if the mistake was severe enough to interfere with the process of a fair trial will it be deemed grounds for an appeal.
In particular, there are three types of common errors that can be used to build a valid appeal case.
The first is that the initial legal representation you received was not sufficient. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you didn’t like your lawyer or though they could have done better, but instead that their actions help to result in the guilty verdict. The idea being that by appealing, you can have such a false conviction quashed, or be granted a retrial. Where you can get a different Criminal Attorney to represent you.
It’s not just the errors of your legal counsel that can be used as a foundation for an appeal, though. It is also the behavior of those on the jury as well. In fact, if you can prove that those assigned to decide on the verdict were involved in misconduct, you may be able to appeal your conviction.
Of course, there is a range of things that can be counted as misconduct when it comes to your jury. In particular, watch out for alcohol use during the trial, as well as exposure to opinions of the media. Even poor communication between jury members that results in a guilty verdict can be grounds in some cases.
Legal process problems
Finally, the third type of error that you can most often build an appeal case on are problems with the actual legal process that have occurred. Of course, issues such as instructing the jury wrongly, submitting evidence in the wrong manner, or not having enough evidence to go ahead with the trial are typical.
Although, remember that a good Criminal Attorney can help you to establish whether any other errors in your trial could also be used as a foundation for an appeal.
The appeal process
After establishing whether you can appeal and what to base your case on, you will need to go through the process itself.
The first part of which is to complete a brief with your Criminal Attorney. Something that will need to outline your eligibility and reason for appeal. In particular, these briefs should focus on the errors that lead to a conviction. Although the legal precedents and arguments that support a miscarriage of justice has been committed are essential too.
It is also important to note that an appeal is essentially a review of the legal proceedings. One that will be carried out by a higher judicial body, the very top of this hierarchy being the Supreme Court.
Therefore, not only will your brief and the brief of the prosecution be taken into account, but all of the legal, post, and pre-trial motions and records as well. Material that will be analyzed to see whether the conviction, part of the conviction, or the sentence you received should be changed. This being the ultimate aim of most appeal processes.