Errors That Could Form the Basis of an Appeal
To obtain a conviction, a prosecutor must present evidence that a crime was committed. In many cases, there are one or more elements that must be proven to obtain a conviction. Let’s say that you were charged with laundering money for an organized crime ring. To prove that money laundering occurred, a prosecutor must show that you knew that you were taking action that was illegal. If you didn’t know where the money was going, it is hard or impossible to prove intent.
In addition to a lack of evidence, an attorney may assert that there were errors related to how evidence was collected or submitted for consideration at trial. It may also be possible to argue that members of the jury were given improper or incomplete instructions prior to beginning their deliberations.
Was Your Original Attorney Effective?
During a criminal trial, you are entitled to have legal counsel that understands that law and is interested in defending your rights. If your attorney takes actions that are inconsistent with his or her ethical duty to defend you, it may be a valid reason to appeal your conviction. Your next attorney will review records from the original trial to determine if there is reason to believe that a lack of quality counsel contributed to a conviction.
Your Conviction May Only Be Partially Overturned
It is important to point out that a judge may only agree to dismiss or reduce some of the charges against you. In some cases, a conviction may be overturned only so that a new trial can be held. If a prosecutor decides to have a second trial, you could still be found guilty and sentenced to prison, probation or other penalties.
However, it can still be worth trying to have a conviction overturned. Even if a case is remanded back to a lower court, the prosecutor may decide that it isn’t worth the time and money needed to obtain a conviction. It may also provide some leverage to enter into plea negotiations, which could result in a deal that reduces or eliminates time spent in jail or prison.
An Attorney May Get You Released on Bail
During the appeals process, you may be allowed to remain out of jail or prison on bail. The amount of your bail depends on the crimes that you are charged with, your criminal record and if you are a risk to evade capture. In some cases, bail could be set at $100,000 or more depending on your ability to pay. The person or group who is representing your legal interests may be able to use your lack of a prior record or ties to the community as reasons to allow your release.
Generally speaking, your attorney can file an appeal within minutes of receiving a jury verdict. While it may take several days or weeks to hear the appeal, you have the right to have such a hearing for almost any reason. If necessary, you can ask the Supreme Court to hear your matter and make a ruling. Although there is no guarantee that this will happen, continuing to profess your innocence could eventually result in being exonerated at some level.