From Defendant To Appellant
Does it all end after sentencing? It might feel that once a court of law has sentenced a person that their fate is now in stone but that is very much far from the truth. Our system of justice is based on objective truth and with that objective truth comes the ability to appeal to a higher court that a sentence or conviction was unfair and unjust.
The Criminal Appeals Process
The first step of the criminal appeals process is for an appellant to write to a higher court and requesting an appeal. This is a formal process where a brief is presented and the appellant outlines the elements involved that make their conviction or sentence unjust. The higher court (Appeals court) reviews the case based on the proceedings of the case, basically, the records created by the court reporter document all aspects of the case. The state then issues their own brief on why the conviction or sentence was legal and just. The appellant also has the opportunity to reply to the brief submitted by the state. The higher court will decide if resentencing or a new trial is needed based on the proceedings of the previous trial.
The goal of appealing a criminal conviction or sentence is to have the case dismissed, to have the case retried or to have the case re-sentenced.
Appealing A Sentence
It is often thought that appealing a sentence is the most finite and closed loop form of appeals because it simply requires a restructuring of an appellant’s sentence, which mostly leads to a reduction in sentence, non-custodial sentencing and sometimes freedom based on time served and other factors.
Appealing A Conviction
Appealing a conviction is often a bit more involved because it requires a retrial. There is a new battle that comes when retrying a case and it is a longer process without the immediate knowledge of one’s faith as in appealing a criminal sentence. There have been many such cases in recent history.
One thing that is the glue to this entire process is having the right appeal’s attorney by an appellant’s side. Appeal’s cases are not for novice attorneys, it is for seasoned attorneys who know the process, who have been involved in similar cases and who have had success appealing criminal cases for their clients. Appeals are very much a specialized segment of the law and not every attorney will have the ability or experience to properly represent and appellant. This is why appellants must choose their attorney very carefully because it can really be the determining factor of success or failure.
If you or someone you know is appealing a criminal case, please consult with a qualified attorney who can give you the best opportunity to be successful. An article such as this one can outline the process but every case is different. You will need an attorney who can use the complexities of your case to help you decide how and when to move forward. For assistance, click here.