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Federal Criminal Appeals Lawyers
The appeals process of a criminal conviction can be a long and frustrating experience for someone who is either already incarcerated or awaiting a final ruling on their case. People are convicted on circumstantial and borderline evidence on a regular basis, and convictions can often be won on charges that never should have been entered into the record. All prosecutors are serious about convicting everyone who even enters the court room, regardless of what many will say, and they all understand overturning a verdict is a difficult legal task. That is why it is so important to have a federal criminal appeals lawyer representing your case when there is a distinct possibility of a case remand or reversal at the appellate level. The appeals process is much different from the initial procedure, and no new evidence can be presented by either party. The appeals hearings are about substantive application of the law or possible errors or omissions by the district court, such as violation of search and seizure rules and regulations. There are indeed some misunderstandings about the appeals process.
Notice of Appeal
A notice of appeal must typically be filed within 10 days of a conviction, but this only applies to the actual notification. Arguments are not presented for quite some time, as the appellate level works diligently when considering a case review. The appellate courts are also crowded, as many convicted defendants do not feel they were prosecuted fairly at the federal district level. A federal criminal appeals lawyer will have a considerable amount of time to develop a narrative regarding the problems with the conviction.
Potential Oral Arguments
While most cases are settled through the filing of written briefs, this often is not as successful as scheduling a hearing for both sides to present oral arguments to the original findings and court decision. No new evidence can be brought forth, but it does provide a federal criminal appeals lawyer an opportunity to persuade the court personally regarding their reasoning for the appeal. Prosecutors and judges often inappropriately apply the law in certain cases where they want a conviction, and an oral hearing gives the opportunity for the case to actually be discussed again as opposed to mere submission of paperwork.
Appeal by Panel
Jurisdictional district court decisions are overseen by one particular judge who is assigned to the case, and many times the disposition of the judge can have an impact on convictions. While the system is theoretically designed to prevent this issue, it still happens. Judges can interpret the law erroneously as well as prosecutors, and many times it is the judge who actually makes the decisions that result in the case going to appeal. Appeals courts at the circuit level are a panel of three judges who will each evaluate the case and vote on the proper interpretation and application of the law with respect to substantive elements or improper punishment guidelines. This makes appellate court more administrative, but it also provides a real opportunity to evaluate the actions of the lower court.
Acquittal is Not Always the Outcome
Most appellants want an acquittal when they file for reconsideration, but that often is not what happens. The circuit court can reverse a decision in some instances, which can result in an acquittal. However, the district court is typically given an opportunity to repair the error when a case is remanded back to the district level by the circuit court with instructions to apply the law in a specific manner. This can often set the stage for a retrial with certain evidence being removed from the record by the appellate court. A conviction can still be the final result, but a reduction in punishment could also be the result as well.
It is not necessary for the attorney representing a case at the district level to also handle the appeal. There are federal criminal appeals lawyers available in every district who focus specifically on appeals cases. In many ways, representing cases in appeal is where the real legal expertise is most effective, and having the right attorney arguing the case matters significantly when a case goes to appeal.