Everyone knows from watching TV that appeals are an important part of the justice system. That much is true; appeals are one of the fundamental aspects built into our system to reduce false convictions. However, appeals aren’t quite as they appear on TV. Here are the top three things you should know — but probably don’t — about the appellate process.
- You Can’t Appeal Simply Because You Don’t Like the Verdict
Any convicted person who believes a legal error has occurred has a right to appeal that conviction. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can appeal simply because you think the wrong verdict was reached. An appeals case rests not on proving that the conclusion itself was wrong, but rather on showing that a flaw occurred in the way that conclusion was reached. Furthermore, this legal error must be shown to have directly contributed to the final decision (a minor procedural error, for example, isn’t necessarily grounds for an appeal).
- The Appeals Process Differs From an Initial Trial Process
An appeal isn’t simply an opportunity to repeat the process with a new judge or set of jurors. Instead, evidence is submitted (sometimes out of the courtroom) to support your claim of a major legal error. The type of hearings or proceedings that follow will depend on what kind of error was made.
- You Probably Shouldn’t Keep the Same Lawyer for the Appeal
Not all criminal lawyers are criminal appeal attorneys. There are several factors that might make it tempting to stick with the same law firm for appeals as you did for the initial trial, since the lawyer or lawyers you worked with know the details of your case and what might have gone wrong before. But because appellate attorneys spend more time studying this specific area of the law, you’ll probably be better off if you find an attorney who deals primarily with appeals.
Do you have any experience working with a criminal appeal attorney? Share your expertise in the comments.