You can appeal a conviction for any type of crime, including drug, sex, violent, or white-collar crime. You may also appeal the sentence when handed down a conviction if you feel it doesn’t appropriately match the charges.
Appeals, or appellate, courts do not retry the case. They look for errors in procedure that may have led to the conviction or an overly severe sentence. They may investigate for procedural errors, errors in submission of evidence by the defense, or questionable evidence presented by the prosecution.
If you decide to appeal either a conviction or a sentence, you should hire an experienced criminal attorney with extensive knowledge about the effect of forensic evidence in criminal cases.
Do I Need to File an Appeal, or Do I Have Other Options in Ohio?
Besides an appeal, you may have an option to submit a Motion for New Trial under Criminal Rule 33. You and your criminal defense attorney must agree that the initial trial proceedings were irregular or erroneous and that these errors led to the conviction. To have the trial judge review the proceedings of your case, you must file the Motion within 14 days after the conviction.
What Is an Appellate Brief?
Suppose you intend to file an appeal for your conviction or the sentence you received. In that case, you must file a notice of appeal and the appropriate accompanying documents within 30 days in Ohio. You may also file for an appellate bond to stay your sentence and remain free from jail or imprisonment until the beginning of your appeal proceedings.
The appeal proceedings begin with the submission by your criminal defense attorney of the appellate brief. In the appellate brief, you attempt to persuade the Court of Appeal that inaccuracies in proceedings at the trial led to the conviction and request that the appellate court reverses the conviction.
How Does the Prosecution Argue Against an Appeal?
An appeal is not a retrial. Appellate courts instead determine the right of a defendant to revisit the processes that led to their conviction or sentence. When a defendant appeals the court’s decision, the prosecution has the right to attempt to prove that the conviction or sentence should stand.
When your criminal defense lawyer files the appellate brief, the prosecution counters with a merit brief detailing why they believe the decision should stand.
You then have the opportunity to respond to the prosecution with a reply brief and argue counterpoints to their disagreement. Once both parties submit and review all briefs, both sides may appear before the appellate court and make oral arguments to a panel of three appellate judges, with the judges asking questions to both sides.
What Happens if the Appellate Court Reverses a Conviction?
If the appeals court reverses the conviction or sends the case back to trial for resentencing, you may have the opportunity for a new trial. The appellate court will provide the trial court with instructions to correct the error that led to the successful appeal.
Sometimes, the appeals court will find in its investigation that there was insufficient evidence to convict or that some other process in your case was fundamentally flawed. In cases where the appellate court found such procedural flaws, it has sometimes dismissed or discharged the case.
Whether your case gets dismissed or brought to trial again, an experienced criminal lawyer can ensure that all documents and records are filed appropriately to the trial and appellate courts.
If My Case Is Retried, Can I Win an Acquittal?
If the appellate court sends your case back to the trial courts, your defense attorney can help you find a more robust defense that could lead to the acquittal of your criminal case charges. You might be especially fortunate in your defense if your original conviction was based on an error in the chain of evidence.
For example, in your original conviction trial, the judge may have prevented the defense from submitting a piece of evidence, declaring that it had no bearing on the case. However, the appeals court might have found that the judge should have allowed the evidence.
Additionally, if the prosecution submitted evidence with questionable relevance to the original trial, and the court of appeals described that permission as erroneous, the prosecution would not have that evidence to make its argument this time.
Matthew C. Bangerter, Esq., is an experienced criminal lawyer serving Northeast Ohio. He has over 14 years of experience practicing criminal law in Ohio, with three of those years served in prosecution. With a degree in biology and additional courses in molecular genetics, Mr. Bangerter understands the nuance of forensics in the chain of evidence presented for each case.
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