If you were charged with a criminal offense and found guilty, it’s important to understand that a guilty verdict does not have to be the end of the road for you. Under some circumstances, you may be eligible to appeal the ruling—that is, to convince a higher court to review your case for some error in the trial proceedings in the hope that they will overturn your conviction or reduce your sentence.
To file an appeal, your case must meet one of the following criteria:
- Plain error: If a decision was made in your case that goes against the law, this may be a reason to appeal. It is not necessary to have objected to—or even have noticed—the error during the original trial in order to file for appeal on these grounds. For instance, if a judge miscalculates the terms of a sentence, you can file for appeal if you discover this mistake after the fact.
- Inaccurately weighted evidence: The “weight” of a piece of evidence is the measure of how believable or persuasive the evidence is. If a judge failed to allow important evidence that could have led to a different outcome in a case—DNA evidence, for example—this could be grounds for appeal.
- Improper decision at the judge’s discretion: Throughout a case, a judge is often called upon to make rulings. The judge is expected to use their best, unbiased judgment in all rulings. However, if there is evidence that any ruling was unfounded according to the facts of the cases, then there could be cause to appeal.
- Inadequate legal counsel: Anyone going to trial has the right to an attorney. However, if you have reason to believe that your attorney did not properly conduct themselves in your criminal proceedings—and you can demonstrate that this conduct led to an unfair trial for you—you may be able to appeal.
Establishing a solid argument for appeal can be a complex process. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand what options your case may quality for.