The trial has ended and the jury has found you or your loved one guilty of one or more felonies. You are now likely facing the real possibility of spending many years in custody. If you were out on bail pending trial the judge likely remanded you back into custody.
You are likely freaked out and do not know what to do now. Can a criminal appellate lawyer help you have your conviction reversed? Our appellate attorneys at Wallin & Klarich would like to explain what a criminal appeal is and what it is not. Then you can make a more intelligent decision on how you wish to proceed.
The Question Asked By An Appeal: Was the Trial Legal?
An appeal is not a new trial. There will be no jury, no new facts presented, and no witnesses questioned. Instead, the California Court of Appeal will examine the record of the trial to answer one question: Was the trial conducted according to the laws of the state of California?
The only concern for an appellate court is mistakes of law. After reading the appellate briefs and hearing argument from your attorney and the attorney general, the Court of Appeal will decide if the trial court made a legal error that requires your conviction to be reversed.
Appeals can be based upon several different grounds, including:
- Evidence in the trial was improperly admitted or excluded
- The judge’s instructions to the jury were improper
- The judge made an error or abused his or her discretion in sentencing
- The prosecutor committed misconduct
- One or more jurors committed misconduct
- Your trial attorney acted incompetently
- The jury’s verdict was based on insufficient evidence
A claim of “insufficient evidence” may seem to be at odds with the notion that the Court of Appeal will not review questions of facts, but it fits under the Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction. A conviction must be based on a finding that the evidence satisfied all of the legal elements of a crime. So, if the facts presented at trial do not show that the elements of the crime have been met, you cannot be guilty of the crime, and your conviction was therefore based on a legal error.
How Long Do I Have to Appeal?
You must file a notice of appeal with the trial court within 60 days of the date you were sentenced. If you fail to file such a notice of appeal, you will be barred from bringing an appeal of your conviction.
What Determines the Success of an Appeal?
Regardless of the grounds for appeal, the court must conclude that the legal error made in your case was not “harmless,” which means that the error must have caused a difference in the outcome of your case. For example, if the court were to admit a statement by a witness that is hearsay, but it was the only piece of questionable evidence amongst several other pieces of evidence that proved you committed the crime, the admission of the hearsay evidence is likely to be determined to be harmless because you would likely still have been convicted without it.
What Happens If My Appeal is Successful?
If the Court of Appeal determines your case contained a legal error that prejudiced the outcome of your case, it can:
- Reverse the conviction or sentence (either in whole or in part), or
- Send the case back to the trial court (known as “remanding”) to retry the case, determine a different sentence, or otherwise correct the legal error.
Contact the Appeals Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
For an appeal to be accepted, the appeal must strictly follow an intricate set of rules. Failure to do so can lead to your appeal being rejected. That is why you should retain an experienced appellate attorney to help you appeal your conviction. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have been successfully handling criminal appeals for over 35 years. Let our knowledgeable attorneys help you, too.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal appeals attorney available to help you no matter where you are located. Our attorneys have handled appeals statewide and can help you no matter what court you were convicted in.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will be there when you call.