If you have been convicted of a criminal offense, you are not out of options. Criminal convictions must be appealed on legal grounds, meaning that there was a legal error made during the initial trial. There are many reasons to appeal a criminal conviction, but the three most common reasons for appeal are for ineffective assistance of counsel, evidentiary issues during trial, and plain error committed by the trial court. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to review your criminal conviction and identify any possible issues you may be able to appeal in your case.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives every person the right to effective assistance of counsel. If your lawyer at trial failed to provide you with competent counsel, you may be entitled to an appeal. Note that this does not mean that if you disagreed with a tactic used by your lawyer, it automatically entitles you to appeal.
Attorneys are given discretion during court to make decisions about how the trial should go. In addition, if the court finds that the lawyer was ineffective but that it would not have changed the overall outcome of the verdict, an appeal on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel may not be effective.
However, if your lawyer failed to call a key witness on your behalf, relay a possible plea deal to you prior to trial, was actively colluding with the prosecution, or committed other gross acts of legal incompetence, you may have a valid claim for appeal.
Evidentiary issues can occur before or during the initial trial. Evidentiary issues that can occur prior to trial typically happen during the pretrial motion phase. If the judge makes an improper ruling on legal grounds for the inclusion or exclusion of certain evidence prior to trial, it may be grounds for appeal. However, as with the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, the court must also find that the evidentiary issue on appeal had the potentially to materially affect the outcome of the case.
Another evidentiary issue that is legal grounds for criminal appeal is a lack of sufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict. If the initial trial lacks the proper evidence to convict, but the jury finds you guilty anyway, there may be a ground for appeal. This can serve as evidence that the jury made its decision on emotional or biased grounds, not legal ones.
The last common reason for criminal appeal is plain error. Plain error constitutes a number of different actions or rulings that can substantially affect your rights during trial. This can include sentencing errors after conviction, blatant mistakes made by the judge before or during trial, or errors in jury instructions. These are mistakes that were not brought up during the initial trial but could have had a substantial effect on the case.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Now
If you have been convicted of a crime and wish to appeal your conviction, our firm may be able to help.