A conviction for a criminal offense can be devastating, especially if you are innocent. Fortunately, you have options. You can successfully appeal and overturn a criminal conviction.
To file an effective appeal, however, you need to start off by understanding the basics. This means understanding how the appeals process works as well as the grounds upon which you can appeal your conviction.
How criminal appeals work
An appeal is not a new trial. Rather, it is a petition to the appellate court to review what happened during your trial to see if all the due process was followed. During the appeal, you will be arguing about how and why your conviction and sentencing were wrong and, thus, should be revisited. Depending on the findings of the appeal court, three things can happen:
- The conviction can be affirmed
- A new trial may be ordered
- The case can be sent back to the trial court with remedies for correcting the error
You cannot appeal a criminal conviction simply because you are unhappy with the outcome of your trial. You must have a valid ground to support your claim that the judgment should be reviewed. Grounds for appeal are generally based on legal errors that occurred during your trial that had a substantial or material effect on the outcome of your case. Here are examples of grounds upon which you can appeal a criminal conviction:
- Mistakes of law or trial court procedures: Your case can be hurt if the prosecution, jury or judge incorrectly interprets or presents laws relevant to your case or if they fail to follow court rules.
- Ineffective representation: Your case can also be hurt if your legal representation acts or fails to act in a manner that a competent counsel would have under the prevailing circumstances.
- Errors of evidence: Legal matters are won or lost on account of evidence. If the court convicts you based on evidence that does not prove guilt or illegally obtained evidence, then you can appeal your conviction.
A conviction might not be the end of the road for your criminal case. You have the right of appeal if you believe justice was not served.