Appeals in the State of Texas
When someone is convicted of a crime in Texas, they may get the opportunity to file an appeal regarding their case. This is usually done in an attempt to get a different verdict from the one that was established at a trial. Although many defendants are able to file appeals, there is not a right to file an appeal in every case. In most situations, the right to an appeal depends on the facts of a specific case.
Appeals must be filed according to a specific process. Knowing more about the steps of this process can help defendants find the right type of legal representation for their case.
What Is An Appeal?
In legal terms, an appeal is a request issued by a defendant for a court to reconsider their case. However, it is not the same as a retrial and the appeal process usually does not involve bringing in new evidence. In order for an appeal to be filed, the defendant and his or her attorney must have a valid reason to object to the verdict of the original case. These reasons could include:
- Errors made by the court that caused them to reach a certain verdict
- The defendant’s constitutional rights were violated
- The judge made an error and incorrectly interpreted the law
Appeals can be filed in both civil and criminal cases. Usually, appeals are filed by the defense but, in some cases, an appeal may be filed by the prosecution. Often, if a defendant is tried in a state court, they may file an appeal to a more powerful court. For example, an appeal might be filed in a federal court or even in the Supreme Court.
How Appeals Work
As stated above, an appeal is a formal request asking a court to examine a particular legal case. The defense, or whomever is filing the appeal, can make their case before the court and explain why they think that the verdict is unjust. Although they are usually not allowed to bring new evidence or witnesses, the party filing the appeal can ask the court to consider certain aspects of their case for signs of illegal or incorrect decisions.
If this process is successful, the court may grant the defendant a new verdict, a new trial or declare the defendant not guilty. The outcome of an appeal largely depends on the facts of each case.
The Appeal Process
To begin an appeal, the party who wishes to file the appeal, known as the appellant, will issue a notice of appeal. This document specifies a certain amount of time in which the other party can respond. There are usually strict deadlines between the time of sentencing and the time that an appeal may be filed. Missing these deadlines could mean that there is no chance for an appeal.
In Texas, appeals are usually handled by the Court of Appeals near the area in which the original trial was held. The appellant and the other party, the respondent, are allowed to submit documentation about their claims. The appellant will usually specify which parts of their case were handled incorrectly and the respondent will often point out why those issues are not important enough to change the outcome of the case.
The judges in the Court of Appeals can hear oral arguments from both sides. After all the arguments have been submitted, the judges can issue their opinion. If they agree with both of the following:
- That errors or constitutional violations occurred in the case
- That these errors were significant enough to influence the outcome of the trial
Then they may make a decision affecting the original verdict. If they determine that there was not sufficient evidence to convict the defendant, they will issue an acquittal. If they determine that evidence was admitted improperly, they can order a retrial that will not allow the improper evidence.
If the judges find that no errors were made, or that the errors weren’t significant enough, they may reject the appeal. The defendant may then accept the outcome or, in some cases, make an appeal to a higher court.
When a defendant wants to file an appeal, it’s time to find good legal representation. Appeals require a complex process and they are not available in all cases. An attorney may be able to advise a defendant about the best way to pursue an appeal, how to file the paperwork and when to meet the required deadlines.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal action, you owe it to yourself to get proper representation. The legal system can be very stressful and confusing; the Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky can help you navigate it. Contact Brett Podolsky today at (713) 227-0087.