San Bernardino Criminal Appeals Attorney
Innocent until proven guilty, right?
That doesn’t feel like the case for millions of Americans who get wrongfully convicted of a crime every year. According to a recent report released by the National Registry of Exonerations, wrongful convictions make up a whopping 2-10% of all convictions.
If you were recently found guilty despite your honest innocence due to a legal error, then all hope is not lost yet. Per California law, you have the right to appeal the court’s decision and take up your case with a higher court here in California. Handling a criminal appeal in San Bernardino is even more challenging than handling your original case, though. With that in mind, you need to hire the very best criminal appeal attorney possible to ensure your appeal is taken seriously by the higher courts. Learn more about how to handle a criminal appeal below.
What is a Criminal Appeal?
A criminal appeal is a petition to higher courts asking them to review certain aspects of your criminal trial. In short, you’d need to show the higher court that some type of legal error happened during your trial. An appeal is not a request for a new trial or a renewed ponderance of the evidence in your case.
Instead, an appeal seeks to have your conviction overturned because some type of legal mistake caused your conviction. Upon this overturned conviction, you could be afforded the opportunity for a new criminal trial or a new sentence.
When you’ve been convicted of a crime, it’s natural to want to fight back against that decision. Higher courts in California understand this concept, so filing a criminal appeal is more of a challenge than you’d initially think. You can’t simply file an appeal because you don’t like or don’t agree with the lower court’s decision. Instead, you must challenge the decision based on a legal error.
Final Notice of Appeal
On top of proving you have the grounds to seek an appeal, you must also file your notice to appeal within a timely manner after your original conviction. If your conviction landed you behind bars, then achieving this could be a real challenge. Here at Wallin & Klarich, we understand the circumstances and challenges you’re facing, and we want to help you understand your legal options.
If you were convicted of a felony offense, then you have 60 days from the date you were sentenced to file an appeal. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, then you have 30 days from the date you were sentenced to file an appeal.
Grounds for a Criminal Appeal in San Bernardino
Before you file all your criminal appeal paperwork, you need to establish that you have the grounds to seek out a criminal appeal in San Bernardino. Otherwise, the appellate courts will not even consider your petition.
To be eligible to seek an appeal, you must file an appeal based on the following grounds:
The legal burden of proof in a criminal trial is very high. The Prosecutor must prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If you believe that the evidence in your case was insufficient to prove that you committed the crime without a reasonable doubt, then you can use that as a legal ground to appeal the conviction.
The Court of Appeals will take a look at what happened in your case, but it’s important to know that they’ll consider the evidence in a way that favors the prosecution. The court will then attempt to decide if a reasonable juror would have made the same decision based on the evidence in your case.
Another ground to appeal your case is arguing that the Prosecutors acted outside of the reasonable scope of behavior that they should have. Common misconduct allegations include actions like:
- Telling a jury their personal opinions
- Referencing inadmissible evidence in a trial
- Withholding evidence that supports your side of the story
- Improper line of questioning
- Appealing to the passions or prejudices of the jury
- Misrepresenting the law to the jury
The Prosecution isn’t the only side that could be found guilty of misconduct. Jurors can also act out of line, too. According to California law, jurors must swear an oath to follow the law as they fulfill their jury duty obligations. If Jurors do not follow a judge’s instructions (like disregarding out-of-bounds evidence), then they could be committing misconduct. It’s also against the rules to speak with other people about the case, refuse to deliberate, or consider evidence outside of the trial.
Judicial errors happen when a judge commits misconduct. This behavior happens when a judge makes an invalid decision, takes an improper action, or allows improper evidence. This is often the most successful grounds for an appeal.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel (IAC)
Do you feel like your first lawyer was inept and unable to defend you in court? If so, then you could appeal based on these grounds. If your lawyer didn’t investigate your case or advise you as another lawyer would, then this could be a good way to appeal your conviction.
Plain Error Versus Harmless Error in a Criminal Appeal Case
A plain error is an error made in the legal process that “affects substantial rights that may be considered even though it was not brought to the court’s attention”. A harmless error, on the other hand, is “an error, defect, irregularity, or variance that does not affect substantial rights that must be disregarded”. If any plain errors occurred in your case, then you may have substantial grounds for an appeal. Sometimes, these errors happen but they don’t impact the results of your case, such as is the case with harmless errors, and thus you may not be eligible for a criminal appeal.
Hire an Experienced Criminal Appeal Attorney in San Bernardino
The list above covers many grounds for filing a criminal appeal, but you may have other options depending on the specific facts regarding your trial.
Can you file a criminal appeal without the help of a lawyer? The short answer to that question is ‘yes’, but it’s strongly advised that you do not attempt to represent yourself if you’re going through the appeals process, as it is extremely complicated. It’s a good idea to hire a criminal appellate defense attorney that is not only local but also highly experienced in handling appeals.
Factors to Consider When Hiring a Criminal Appeal Defense Attorney
Hiring your original defense attorney was important but hiring a criminal appeal attorney is even more vital. The odds of having your conviction reversed are already not in your favor, so you need to take your one shot at having your appeal heard as seriously as possible. To ensure you hire a capable criminal appeal attorney in San Bernardino, look for the following factors in your lawyer or firm:
- Track record
- Ethos – credibility
It’s also important to speak one-on-one with your potential attorney and ensure they have the time to take on your claim. Due to the gravity of your situation, the last thing you need is to have a legal aid or paralegal attempting to handle your claim. Your case deserves personalized time and attention, which is exactly what we will do if you hire the attorneys here at Wallin & Klarich. We have over 40 years of experience in San Bernardino helping clients appeal their cases, and we can use the knowledge we’ve gained throughout this experience to give you a fighting shot in achieving justice.
Winning Your Criminal Appeal Case
Filing a criminal appeal in San Bernardino is a very complicated and difficult process. Unfortunately, you’re likely already feeling pretty discouraged after your first attempt at proclaiming your innocence didn’t go as you planned.
Here at Wallin & Klarich, we understand exactly what you’re going through. Our legal attorneys have the experience, track record of success, and communication you need to ensure your appeal is heard and taken seriously by higher courts here in California. Lean on our experience and legal skill, and we will help you seek out justice. Contact us now by visiting our website or by calling us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL to discuss your situation in detail.