If you’re like most people, you’ve heard about cases being appealed, but do you know what that means exactly? Can any criminal case be appealed? Generally, when a jury comes back with a not guilty verdict in a criminal case, the case is over. Meaning, the prosecutor can’t take the person back to court and appeal their acquittal. A guilty verdict on the other hand, is a different story and thankfully so. If a defendant is found guilty at trial, that doesn’t necessarily mean his or her case is over. If a defendant is wrongfully convicted, they can:
- File a motion asking for the jury’s guilty verdict to be overturned.
- Ask the judge to set aside the jury’s verdict. In this case, the judge would declare a mistrial and the trial would be started over.
- Ask a higher court to reverse the defendant’s conviction.
The Definition of an Appeal
When an appeal is filed, the defense is asking the appellate court to do two things: 1) review the lower court’s decision, and 2) change the lower court’s decision. Thus, when a defendant files an appeal, he or she can challenge the conviction or the actual sentence. If an appeal is successful, the case can be restored to the beginning stages or, it can be ended because the appellate court finds there’s insufficient evidence to conduct another trial. That’s the ideal resolution. If a defendant is convicted, he or she has the right to appeal their conviction to the intermediate appellate court; however, they must appeal their conviction within the statutory timeframe to file an appeal. Often, the appellate court will have both sides present their oral argument. Next, the appellate court issues a written decision that either upholds or reverses the conviction. If the conviction is upheld by the appellate court, the defendant still has options: The defendant can appeal to their state’s highest court, and the final stop is the U.S. Supreme Court.
Importance of ‘Legal Errors’
The appellate courts are not in the practice of reversing convictions unless a legal error occurred and there’s a strong possibility that it led to the conviction. If there was a glaring constitutional violation, the appellate courts may be required to execute a reversal.
If you need legal advice regarding criminal charges in Plano or Dallas, contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC to schedule a consultation with an experienced member of our legal team.