Key Points for a Successful Appeal

Criminal proceedings do not end after the jury hands down its judgment. Often, the defense would question certain factors affecting how the jury ended up with their decision, usually questioning how the evidence was handled, how the witnesses’ statements were taken into account, or how the jury’s emotions may have affected their objectivity. For such situations, criminal defense attorneys come prepared with motions to appeal the case.

Appeals are a key part of the post-trial process in any court hearing. By being granted the right to appeal, a defendant gets another chance to prove his or her innocence in front of a higher court of law, although the proceedings for an appealed case differ greatly from how the lower courts handle the case. It is important to remember that getting the chance to appeal does not always equate to an approval. In order to get the case raised to a higher court, the appeal must be made effectively.

Staying Prepared

Appellate courts do not handle a re-trial of the case on appeal, instead focusing on reviewing all the key points related to it before deciding to either uphold or overturn the previous ruling. With this in mind, appellants go into court with an appellate battle plan in advance, taking into account every detail that they believe can affect the final verdict and which they can use should the need for appealing arises. A plus factor for these notes are constitutional claims that the appellant can raise to strengthen their appeal; a valid constitutional claim can sometimes also allow the appellant to make an oral argument before the appellate court, but only on extraordinary circumstances.

It is important that all data compiled in the appellant’s record of the case are reflected in the court records during the legal proceedings. Any contradictions between the compiled record submitted by the appellant and the official data provided by the previous court will weaken any chances of the appeal pushing through, or outright lead to a denial for appeal. Provide a complete and compelling story for the court records that can corroborate with the appeal documents.

Alert for Errors

A vital part of any appeal is the preservation of error, a note on several errors in the court’s instructions to the jury. This is possibly one of the more common reasons for making an appeal in the court case, as the appellants believe the jury to be at fault for most of the hearing and blaming this fault for their conviction. A solid refutation of jury errors with corroborating evidence can go a long way to scoring an overturning of the guilty verdict.

Remember that the court assumes that both parties consent to any erroneous submissions made by the jury prior to reading out the verdict. Neither party can blame the court for failing to provide proper instructions, as the involved parties are the ones responsible for what instructions can be given out during the rest of the trial. Appellants can lose the chance to appeal if they are responsible for an erroneous instruction to the jury in the first place. This is referred to as an invited error and is often grounds for denial of appeal.

Filed To the Letter

Appeals are expected to be costly and lengthy affairs. The appellate court handling the review will take an extended period of time reviewing all the documents related to the court, and will take a separate amount of time deliberating the eventual verdict. The judges tasked with reviewing the appeal are keen on taking every detail into account to ensure that a sound judgment is made.

This serious attention to detail is the main reason why appellate courts have stringent requirements for all documents submitted to them for review. Appellants need to remember that whatever items are listed by the court for their documents must be followed to the letter; otherwise, the court have the right to return these documents for failing to adhere to the stated conditions. This goes for both the information contained in the document and the packaging they are contained in, such as binders or folders that must follow the court’s requirements.

Post-conviction relief can be laborious, especially with all the efforts to score an appeal with a higher court. Nonetheless, the appeal can go a long way to proving a defendant’s innocence if he or she considers the jury verdict to be in error. Working with a veteran appellate attorney with extensive experience in handling trial appeals can also help in securing a more favorable ruling in a higher court.