Grounds for Criminal Appeals

What are the grounds for appeal in a criminal case? Criminal defense attorneys from Strickland Webster, LLC, have all the details you need. Call us if you need help.

What Is a Criminal Appeal?

 

Have you or a loved one been convicted of a crime in a trial court? You may wonder what types of appeals you can make in such cases. A conviction does not necessarily mean the end of a trial. You may be able to file an appeal against the trial court’s decision.

A criminal appeal is a legal process in which the defendant seeks a review of a higher court to potentially overturn or alter the decision made by a lower court on specific grounds. The party initiating the appeal is referred to as the appellant (or, in some jurisdictions, the petitioner).

A criminal appeal can be a direct, discretionary, or interlocutory appeal. A direct appeal challenges the trial court’s judgments or final decisions. Discretionary appeals are made with the permission of the appellate court. Interlocutory appeals challenge the trial court’s orders, such as the ones passed during pre-trial motions before the trial concludes and a final decision is made.

The Right to Appeal

 

If you are dissatisfied with the final judgment imposed on you by a Georgia court, you can file an appeal in the Georgia Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court of Georgia.

As a defendant, you can file a criminal appeal after receiving a guilty verdict. But, the prosecution cannot appeal when an accused is found innocent in a trial. This provision helps to prevent a case of double jeopardy.

It is also worth noting that appellate courts make their decisions solely by examining the trial court record, the parties’ written arguments, applicable laws, and, occasionally, oral arguments. Parties involved in appeal cases cannot introduce fresh evidence to the Court of Appeals if it wasn’t presented during the trial court proceedings. The Court’s review is limited to the trial court’s documented records.

Where you can file your appeal depends on the nature of your case:

  1. Court of Appeals:
  • Criminal appeals, except for murder cases, unless they involve constitutional questions.
  • Most civil cases, except those falling under the exclusive appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
  1. The Supreme Court:
  • Cases involving constitutional issues.
  • Habeas corpus petitions.
  • Murder cases.
  • Election contests.
  • Certified legal questions.
  • Certiorari from the Court of Appeals.

Grounds for Criminal Appeals

 

To initiate an appeal at an appellate court, there must be a valid reason for requesting the appellate court to review the decision made by the trial court. The following are some of the grounds:

Juror Misconduct

You can appeal your conviction if you believe the jury conducted itself improperly during the trial, affecting the outcome of the case. Instances that can be considered misconduct include:

  • Commission of dishonest acts
  • Intentional concealment of information
  • Engagement in deceptive practices
  • Investigations made by the jury beyond the evidence admitted during the trial

Insufficient Evidence

The onus is on the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Where the prosecution failed to fulfill this duty, and you are convicted, you can appeal your conviction on the grounds of insufficient evidence. This ground hinges on the absence of sufficient evidence to validate your conviction.

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Appealing based on inadequate and ineffective representation suggests violating your right to a fair trial and adequate representation. To succeed, you must demonstrate that your trial attorney’s ineffectiveness had a tangible impact on the trial’s outcome.

Prejudicial Legal Error

Legal errors can be a basis for successfully appealing a criminal conviction. Your defense attorney can challenge your trial’s final judgment where the judge erred. Instances of legal errors in trials include the following:

  • Misinterpretation and misapplication of the law.
  • Improper admission of evidence by the judge.
  • Wrong instruction to the jury by the judge.

Your appeal lawyer in Atlanta, GA, must be able to show that this error was prejudicial to your trial outcome.

Sentencing Errors

Judges sometimes commit sentencing errors by ignoring sentencing guidelines or rules. Such errors can form a basis for your criminal appeal. An instance of sentencing error is when a judge miscalculates sentences. In this case, the appellate court would remand your case to the trial court for legal sentencing.

Understanding the Appeals Process and Effective Navigation Tips

 

The criminal appeals process can be labyrinthine, requiring a keen understanding of several critical stages. Initially, notice of appeal must be filed promptly, typically within 30 days of the conviction or sentencing, emphasizing the necessity of timely action. Following this, a comprehensive record from the trial court is prepared, including all documents, evidence, and transcripts pertinent to the case.

Crafting a persuasive appellate brief is next, where legal errors and grounds for appeal are meticulously argued. This brief serves as the cornerstone of the appellant’s argument. Oral arguments might then be scheduled, during which the attorneys can further elucidate their positions before the appellate judges.

Navigating this process effectively demands strategic planning and proactive management. It is crucial to maintain open and frequent communication with your appeal attorney to ensure a thorough understanding of ongoing developments and potential strategies. Additionally, staying well-informed about precedent and changes in the law can provide crucial advantages in appeal proceedings.

Deadline for Filing an Appeal

When you are dissatisfied with the trial court’s decision in your case and want to appeal such a decision, you must be time-conscious. The deadline for filing appeals varies depending upon the type of appeal to be filed:

  1. Direct Appeal: You must file the notice of appeal within 30 days of the order or judgment entry being appealed. Such an appeal is filed in the trial court, not the Court of Appeals (O.C.G.A. § 5-6-38).
  2. Discretionary Appeals: Such applications should also be filed within 30 days of the order or judgment entry (O.C.G.A. § 5-6-35(d).
  3. Interlocutory Appeal: You must submit such an appeal within 10 days from the day the trial court issues a certificate for immediate review (O.C.G.A. § 5-6-34(b).

Outcomes of Criminal Appeal

A criminal appeal can have any of the following outcomes:

Remand

The appellate court can order a remand of your case by returning it to the original trial court. Remand is usually done to bring clarification on the trial court’s decision. Upon remand, the trial court looks into the issues as instructed by the appellate court.

Affirmation of the Judgment of the Trial Court

An appellate court can affirm the trial court’s judgment when it finds your appeal grounds unjustifiable. In this case, you are bound by the conviction and sentence of the trial court.

Reversal of the Trial Court’s Judgment

An appellate court can reverse the lower court’s decision after your attorney convinces it that your conviction was made in error. The appellate court may order the trial court to:

  • Modify its judgment
  • Hold a new trial
  • Reconsider the facts of the trial and take additional evidence

 

Strickland Webster, LLC Can Help You!

 

Time is of the essence for criminal appeals. Are you looking for an experienced state/federal appeals lawyer? Do you or your loved ones intend to appeal a conviction? Consider hiring a criminal defense attorney to represent you adequately.

At Strickland Webster, LLC, we have experienced criminal defense attorneys who can help you with viable grounds for your criminal appeal. Contact us today to book a free consultation.