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Appealing a federal criminal case is fraught with complex issues, but the first thing to know is that an appeal isn’t a retrial. You don’t get the chance to present new evidence or change your defense strategy. Appeals are legal vehicles to challenge the legal steps taken during a trial. If mistakes were made in the course of your arrest and trial in legal procedures, they could result in your conviction being overturned.
An appeal is a legal motion to overturn a court decision based on the fact that improprieties occurred that violated the defendant’s rights. This has nothing to do with incompetent counsel, new evidence or changes in witness testimony. Appeals are made when the defense team charges that a judge, prosecutor, juror or law enforcement officer acted improperly. The reasons for an appeal include:
There are special circumstances where an error can be ruled a Harmless Error or Invited Error, and these do not meet the conditions necessary to overturn a conviction. In the cases where the judge is involved in misconduct or improper behavior, it’s necessary to object to the error during the trial to give the judge an opportunity to correct the mistake.
If a judge makes a mistake during the course of the trial, it’s critical for the defense attorney to object to the error in order to use the error as grounds for an appeal. The reasoning behind this requirement is that objections give judges a chance to correct their mistakes since the goal of all legal proceedings is justice.
During the appeal, judges can rule on the grounds for an appeal in the following ways:
It’s important to hire a competent attorney for any federal trial. It might seem ridiculous to look for ways to overturn a case in the middle of a trial, but a competent attorney always keeps these opportunities in mind to preserve errors for possible appeals. Objecting to what seems like an error gives the courts a chance to self-correct improprieties. Failure to object to an impropriety is viewed the same as stipulating that no error occurred.