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How to Appeal a Criminal Conviction

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An individual may choose to file for an appeal at the conclusion of his criminal trial. An appeal asks a court of a higher jurisdiction to look at the presented issues and decide if the lower court made a mistake. An appeal is not a new trial nor is it a way for the defendant to present a new defense.

An appellate court will not determine the facts of a case. In addition, no witnesses or new evidence can be presented. The court will only read the transcripts and appellate briefs that are filed by the defendant and prosecutors.

During the appeal, a judge may decide to grant the defendant with bond while the appeal is being decided. In most cases, the judge will not grant a bond because the defendant was already found guilty and sentenced.

Reasons to Appeal a Criminal Conviction

In order for the appeal to be accepted, there must be a compelling reason for the appellate court to overturn the verdict and sentence. An unsatisfactory outcome for the defendant does not qualify as a compelling reason. The following are valid reasons for filing an appeal:

  • Ineffective representation by one’s legal counsel
  • Prosecutor misconduct
  • Juror misconduct
  • Insufficient evidence or testimony
  • Legal error
  • The sentence is inappropriate for the crime at hand

It is very difficult to convince a higher court to overturn a verdict or criminal sentence. A defendant must first file an appellate brief that includes legal reasoning and case law citations.

Strict Time Limits

An appeal begins when the defendant files a notice. In Texas, a person is given 30 days from the date of sentencing (or other final order) to file the necessary documents. If the defendant fails to do this in a timely manner, he will waive his opportunity to appeal.

The appellate court dockets the case after the notice of appeal is filed. This means that the court will place the case on its schedule. The court will then issue a briefing timeline. The defense and the prosecution have a certain number of days to turn in their appellate briefs. After the appellate court receives all of the documents, it will either make a decision or ask the attorneys to argue the issue.

Get in touch with Brett A. Podolsky at 713-227-0087 to get more information on the criminal appeals process.

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