Once an individual receives a sentence for a criminal conviction, he or she may qualify for an appeal. An appeal means that he or she asks a higher court to look for legal errors in the lower court’s conviction.
If the higher court finds errors that would have changed the outcome of the case, the judge can fully or partially overturn the person’s conviction.
Who can appeal a conviction?
A person convicted by a judge or during a jury trial can always file an appeal. Commonly, an appeal stems from legal errors such as insufficient evidence to support a conviction, wrong instructions given to the jury, ineffective attorney representation, juror misconduct or evidence admitted wrongly to trial.
What happens during an appeal?
While many people refer to a retrial as an appeal, these terms are actually different. During the appeal process, the appellate court reviews the person’s case in the lower court to determine whether legal errors may have occurred. This review includes a complete transcript of the trial, all evidence and all motions in the case. However, the appellate court will not review new witnesses or new evidence.
The defendant’s attorney can submit an appellate brief to summarize his or her case. This document summarizes the reason for the appeal and the potential legal issues in the original case. Sometimes, the appellate court allows lawyers for both sides to address questions about the brief.
To start the appeal process, the convicted person’s attorney files a notice of appeal. After reviewing the evidence, reading the briefs and hearing testimony if applicable, the judge will decide whether to grant the person a new trial.