If you are facing a criminal conviction, and you think that there was an error during your original trial, you have a right to appeal the decision. Because a conviction results in a major change of life circumstances, it may be worth examining the options for appeal.
The first thing to understand is that you cannot appeal for just any reason, so you must figure out the grounds for the appeal. There are also certain rules you must follow in order for the court to consider granting the appeal.
Potential grounds for an appeal
According to FindLaw, although you may be able to point out numerous errors in your defense, these are not grounds for appeal if they are harmless errors and did not affect your substantial rights. Grounds for a criminal appeal include:
- Plain error: An error that affects the defendant’s substantial rights, such as sentencing miscalculations
- Ineffective assistance of counsel: A violation of your Sixth Amendment right, and you must be able to prove that the attorney’s failures created an unfair trial
- Abuse of discretion: A judge misused discretion, and his or her ruling was not supported by law or facts
- Insufficient weight of evidence: The evidence did not support the verdict
Helpful tips for filing an appeal
According to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, regardless of the basis for your appeal, you must file the Notice of Appeal in a timely manner so that the statute of limitations does not run out. You also must file the Notice of Appeal in the same branch office in which your case started.
Once you receive approval by the court, you should begin planning your case right away to improve your chances for a successful outcome.