The basics of filing an appeal

If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you have the right to challenge the decision through an appeal process. The basis for the appeal can be filed based on the claim that key legal mistakes were made that affected the outcome of the trial and the sentence that was imposed. In an appeals process, a criminal appeals attorney is hoping to have the case dismissed or at the very least, re-tried or re-sentenced. Appeals are heard in what is known as an appellate court.

The attorney will present their reasons that an appeal should be validated by filing a brief with the court. No new evidence may be introduced and the court may only review the proceedings of the lower court. In response, the government will also file its own brief stating why the conviction should be upheld. In some cases, the presiding court will also ask both sides to present oral arguments before reaching a decision.

There are four main grounds for an appeal:

The lower court made a serious error of law that materially affected the outcome of the trial. Judges make mistakes and when one impacts the outcome of a trial or a sentence imposed, a challenge can be brought to correct the deficiency.

The evidence does not support the verdict that the judge or the jury reached. Because an appellate court is limited in what they can have access to, the “weight of evidence” claim may put appellate judges at a disadvantage when it comes to determining the validity of an appeal.

The lower court did not use appropriate discretion and made an errant ruling. A judge may be overturned if an appellate judge determines that he or she was clearly unreasonable or arbitrary in a way that did not support the facts of the case.

The defendant can claim that they had an ineffective assistance of counsel, a right protected under the Sixth Amendment. It is not enough to claim that an attorney was ineffective, it must also be shown that the ineffectiveness had a material outcome on the trial itself. Sometimes, the level of incompetence is not enough to impact the outcome.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

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