The outcome of a criminal case can have a positive or negative impact on the defendant's life. When the case ends in a conviction, many defendants try to determine if they can appeal the conviction.
If you are considering a criminal appeal, you need to know a few things about this process. These points can have an impact on whether you can appeal or not and how your appeal moves through the criminal justice system.
The conviction can't be a plea deal in most cases
Criminal cases that are resolved through an appeal usually aren't able to be appealed. This is because the defendant opted to plead guilty or no contest in exchange for whatever the prosecution was offering.
Of course, there is an exception to this. If a defendant's lawyer failed to provide crucial information about the plea bargain terms, there is a chance that the defendant could launch an appeal based on ineffective legal counsel. This would be a challenge to handle so you should think about this carefully and evaluate your case to determine if you want to pursue this option.
4 grounds for an appeal
Typically, an appeal's basis must fall under one of the four basic grounds to launch an appeal. One of these is ineffective assistance of counsel, which is based on the Sixth Amendment. Another is that the weight of the evidence didn't support the verdict that was handed down in the case. A third is that the lower court made an error of law that is considered serious. This is known as a plain error. The fourth is that there was an abuse of discretion at the lower court level.
Composition of an appeal
You should know that these appeals can't consider new evidence. Instead, the appellate court can only consider what is already on record in the case and the factual claims that are made regarding the legal errors that are present.
When you file an appeal, your filing needs to be strong. In most cases, the appellate court is only going to consider the briefs, or written documents, that are submitted. Being able to have oral arguments or statements in front of the court is usually by invitation only. Even if you do get to speak, your time will be strictly limited to preserve the court's time.
Appeals of a criminal conviction can be lengthy processes that can vary according to the court in which you are working. Being prepared for the process and learning about the procedures that must be followed for each specific court is necessary.