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Reasons To Appeal A Criminal Case

Foreground: Attorney and client in courtroom. Background: Jury listening to evidence.

In an ideal world, the legal system would ensure that justice would always be served. Unfortunately, in reality there are times when mistakes can occur. These legal missteps can sometimes affect the outcome of the case. The appeals process provides a way for defendants who may have been wrongfully convicted to seek a legal remedy for their situation. If you would like to learn more about how to appeal a criminal case and the circumstances under which defendants can claim the right to an appeal, consider contacting the New Hampshire criminal defense attorneys at Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC. You can schedule your personal consultation by calling 603-707-4800 today.

What Are 3 Specific Reasons You Can Appeal a Case?

While each situation is different, there are some specific reasons that may lead to another look at the defendant’s case. These are three grounds to file an appeal:

Legal Errors

The potential for appealing a case often hinges on legal mistakes. These inaccuracies can manifest at various points within a trial, ranging from the issuance of flawed jury instructions to the misinterpretation of legal principles by the presiding judge. 

These inaccuracies can influence the outcome of the case. A faulty decision about the admissibility of specific evidence can lead to the wrongful conviction of a defendant. Erroneous instructions issued to the jury regarding the burden of proof may lead to an unjust verdict. Identifying these errors serves as the foundation for initiating an appeal.

Discovery of New and Pertinent Evidence

Another compelling rationale for appealing a criminal case pertains to the discovery of evidence that was unavailable during the original trial. This evidence must have the potential to reasonably modify the verdict. 

In several instances, evidence concealed or overlooked during the initial trial has later surfaced, exonerating the defendant. DNA evidence has conclusively established the innocence of individuals and resulted in the release of those wrongfully incarcerated. Thus, the emergence of newfound evidence can sometimes hold the power to overturn prior convictions and rectify miscarriages of justice.

Allegations of Inadequate Legal Representation

The third justification for filing an appeal concerns insufficient legal counsel. In this case, the defendant feels their legal representation during the initial trial was inadequate, and that as a result they did not have a fair trial. Securing strong legal counsel is essential to the functioning of the criminal justice system. The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution explicitly guarantees defendants the right to have knowledgeable legal representation to defend their rights and interests during a trial.

The fairness of the trial may be impacted when a defense lawyer’s performance falls short of the accepted benchmark for reasonably competent legal representation. To support claims of ineffective legal representation, the defendant must show that the lawyer made mistakes that materially affected the case’s outcome. The United States Supreme Court ruling in Garza v. Idaho emphasized the heavy burden of proof that the Strickland standard places on the defendant to show that the attorney’s incompetence made a difference in the outcome of the case. If the Strickland standard is satisfied, the issue might be retried with other legal counsel.

What Is the Best Reason for a Case To Be Granted an Appeal?

All three of the reasons listed above are solid grounds to file an appeal, but the strongest argument centers around legal errors. These mistakes, if left unaddressed, can undermine the integrity of the legal system. Sometimes, legal errors made during court proceedings might jeopardize the impartiality of the trials. 

Appellate courts are more inclined to accept an appeal in cases where a blatant legal error is discovered. These mistakes could involve:

  • Inaccurate jury instructions: Unjust verdicts may result from inadequate judicial guidance on the law.
  • Misinterpretation of the law: Unfair outcomes may arise when judges understand and implement the law incorrectly, especially in complicated legal issues.
  • Constitutional rights violations: Violating a defendant’s right to a fair trial, the right to remain silent, or the right to counsel can result in an appeal.

The appeals procedure is necessary to restore public confidence in the legal system since legal errors diminish that confidence.

What Is the Best Ground for Appeal?

Violations of the United States Constitution are good reasons to file an appeal. These liberties and safeguards have been thoughtfully designed to make sure that individuals receive fair and impartial treatment from the government. These principles underpin the legal system, and when a defendant’s rights are violated so are these principles, and the bedrock of the legal framework. Common Constitutional violations may consist of the following:

  • Gathering evidence through unauthorized seizures and searches
  • Forcing admissions through coercive questioning
  • Denying a defendant access to knowledgeable legal counsel
  • Levying severe unfair sentences or requiring the defendant to remain appalling conditions during detention

Appellate courts are committed to making amends for Constitutional violations to uphold the integrity of the legal system and protect people’s rights. They take these violations seriously. If you would like to learn more about how to appeal a criminal case, reach out to the legal team at Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC.

What Are the Two Common Reasons for Appeal?

Along with the above reasons for a case appeal, there are two other common ones. Jury misconduct and sentencing errors are both regularly cited in appeals.

Jury Misconduct

Jury misconduct is a solid basis for seeking an appeal since the jurors are responsible for weighing the evidence presented in court and applying standards of justice in accordance with the instructions issued to them by the judge presiding over the trial. When members of the jury fail to fulfill these responsibilities, the lapse can jeopardize the trial’s fairness. Demonstrating that the jury acted in a prejudiced manner, potentially through contact with external sources or the influence of bias on their decisions, raises concerns. Their verdict must be based solely on the evidence presented during the trial.

Sentencing Errors

A defendant may have grounds for an appeal if they believe the judge made an error in determining the appropriate sentence. These errors can potentially lead to adjustments in the sentence, mitigating its severity. While sentencing irregularities may not necessarily result in the complete overturning of a conviction, they can prompt sentence modifications. The goal of such adjustments is to ensure that the penalty meted out to a convicted defendant aligns with the law.

Learn More About the Appeals Process From Our New Hampshire Criminal Defense Attorneys

When a defendant chooses to appeal a criminal case, they seek to address mistakes and injustices that could have impacted the outcome of their trial. Rather than obviating the original verdict, appeals can help restore these legal proceedings’ integrity and fairness. Without an appeal process, some defendants would suffer from serious miscarriages of justice. To learn more about your rights to an appeal, or to gain assistance with the appeal process, reach out to the skilled and dedicated legal team at Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC. Schedule an appointment by calling 603-707-4800 today. 

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About the Attorney
Jesse Friedman

Jesse has personally represented thousands of clients throughout the State - from juvenile delinquency offenses through homicides. He has extensive trial and litigation experience and has obtained favorable outcomes for thousands of clients throughout the years.

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