Criminal appeals – challenging your conviction

Your criminal case is over – either by a guilty plea or a conviction after a trial.  You still feel that your conviction is wrong – that there were errors in the trial, evidence was improperly admitted, or that the jury convicted you for the wrong reasons.

The criminal justice system is made up of humans.  What’s the old saying?  “Everybody makes mistakes.”  When your freedom and reputation are at stake, that’s just not good enough.  A “mistake” by the prosecutor, the judge or the jury can have devastating results for you.  So what do you do?

The conviction in almost every criminal case can be appealed.  If you or a loved one has been recently convicted, you must file a notice of appeal with the trial court within the correct time period.  If you miss that window, the court will dismiss your appeal.

From there, only a thorough review of the underlying conviction can assess what sorts of issues exist.  Some of the more common errors that are found are:

  • Errors in jury instructions:  Every criminal jury trial requires that the applicable law be given to the jurors.  There are two volumes of jury instructions to select from, but the ones give to the jury must be the correct ones.  If the judge failed to give a crucial instruction to the jury, the conviction can be challenged.  Sometimes, either the prosecution or defense will request a specific instruction be given.  If the court makes the wrong ruling and either gives or fails to give an instruction, it may require a reversal of the conviction.
  • Evidence wrongly admitted:  If your trial attorney made a motion to suppress evidence that was denied, that ruling is subject to challenge on appeal.  If the judge admitted evidence that should have been excluded, your conviction may be reversed.
  • Procedural errors:  The law sets out specific time limits for certain things – the arraignment, the preliminary hearing and the trial.  There are deadlines for the prosecution to file certain things, turn evidence over to the defense and give notice of certain evidence they plan to introduce.  If those procedural deadlines were not met, they raise issues on appeal.
  • Admissibility of statements:  Whether it is a statement of the defendant or a witness statement, there are crucial procedures and law that must be followed before any statements can be introduced at trial.  In the case of a statement by the defendant, were the Miranda rights given?  Were they given properly?  Should the statement have been excluded, but it was admitted in evidence?
  • Sentencing errors:  The laws on sentencing in California are often confusing – even to experienced attorneys and judges.  Many times, sentences are overturned or reduced based on incorrect application of the laws or calculation of what the sentence should have been.

Obviously, no two cases are alike.  Each has its own set of issues.  If you would like to discuss a crimnal appeal, contact me and we can set an appointment to get started on appealing your conviction.

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