What Is a Criminal Appeal? 

What is a Criminal Appeal? Legal professionals at Conklin Law provide answers to this and more. If you need the services of a criminal appeal lawyer, contact us.

What Does Criminal Appeal Involve?

A criminal appeal involves a defendant’s request to the appellate court (higher court) to review the lower court’s decision after the conviction. Under Georgia law, the person convicted of the crime has a right to appeal their conviction. To be successful on appeal, the convicted person must demonstrate that the trial proceeding did not comply with the law or that their rights were violated. 

If the appellate court grants the defendant an appeal, the lower court’s decision may be reversed wholly or in some parts. However, if the appellate court denies the appeal, the trial court’s ruling stands.

The criminal appeals process is often more accessible and less complicated if you have the help of an appeal attorney

What Are the Most Common Grounds for Criminal Appeal?

 

The appeal process begins with the filing of a notice of appeal. Essentially, the notice of appeal is the document filed with the superior court where the case was decided to inform the court and the other side of the appeal.

Criminal convictions are typically appealed on the following grounds:

 

Improper Admission or Exclusion of Evidence

A pre-trial conference is often held between the judge and lawyers to discuss matters pertaining to the case, including what evidence and witnesses should be presented to the jury. At that hearing, the judge may rule on whether the jury will be allowed to hear certain evidence.

Lack of Sufficient Evidence

On appeal, a defendant may argue that the prosecution failed to present enough evidence to warrant a conviction. However, once the jury returns a guilty verdict, it will be upheld on the sufficiency of the evidence grounds if reasonable inferences suggest the defendant’s guilt. Moreover, any conflicts in witness testimony or other evidence are resolved against the defendant on appeal.

Ineffective Assistance by Counsel

Poor representation by the defendant’s lawyer could provide a basis for an appeal. In order to win an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a defendant must show the following:

  1. That their lawyer made a decision that no other reasonable attorney would have made
  2. If the decision by the lawyer had not occurred, there is a reasonable probability the outcome of the case would have been different. This is a very high standard to meet.

Prosecutor or Jury Misconduct

In some cases, a prosecutor’s unethical conduct creates prejudice, which is an appropriate ground for a criminal appeal.

In addition, jury misconduct and any other prejudicial legal error concerning the trial are grounds for appeal.

What’s the Process of Criminal Appeal Review? 

Below is the criminal appellate review procedure after filing a criminal appeal in Atlanta. 

The defendant must file the appeal within 30 days of sentencing. The original trial records are then prepared and sent to the appellate court. After receipt of the records, the appellate court reviews the lower court proceedings in order to render its decision. 

The records the appellate court may review are:

  • Pre-trial and post-trial motions

  • Trial transcripts

  • All other evidence that was presented in court

The court also reviews the written briefs submitted by each party. 

In some cases, the appellate court hears oral arguments. At oral argument, each side’s attorney is given an opportunity to present its case to the judges, and the judges will often ask questions in order to clarify a party’s arguments. After hearing oral arguments, the court usually takes several months to issue a decision.

What if One Loses an Appeal? 

Denial of an appeal at the Georgia Court of Appeals does not necessarily mean that the appeal process has ended. In Georgia, a petition known as a “cert” may be filed in the Georgia Supreme Court. A cert petition is an application to the highest court in the state requesting that the justices accept the case for review. The Georgia Supreme Court only accepts cert petitions in cases of great gravity or importance to the public.

If an appeal is unsuccessful, a defendant may file a habeas corpus petition within four years. In a habeas proceeding, the petitioner may only raise constitutional errors that occured in their case. A habeas is a civil proceeding and is not a part of a criminal appeal. It is heard in the county where the inmate is incarcerated.

What Happens if an Appeal is Granted?

Usually, when the appellate court grants the appeal, three things can happen: 

  • Remand the case to the trial court with instructions to the judge requesting more information about a particular ruling. Normally this occurs when the trial judge may have committed legal error in a ruling, but the appellate court is unable to tell because the record is unclear. 

  • A new trial. If the appeals court overturns one or more convictions, then a new trial is ordered.

  • Return the case to the trial court for resentencing If the trial court sentenced the defendant to an unlawful sentence, they will be entitled to a resentencing hearing. 

How Can Conklin Law Help to File a Criminal Appeal?

A conviction does not mean the end of the case. A defendant has a right to appeal their case, which may result in them regaining their freedom. 

An appellate lawyer researches and analyzes the trial after one is convicted. This thorough analysis is critical because, on appeal, the defendant must prove legal errors occurred at trial in order to obtain relief.   

Those seeking relief from the appellate courts can utilize the legal services of a criminal appeals lawyer in Atlanta from Conkin Law. Conklin criminal appeals attorneys have extensive experience with appeals and can help you navigate the process. 

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