Criminal courts hold trials to determine whether someone committed a crime and, if so, what punishment they should receive. However, the result in the trial court is not necessarily final. Higher courts, called appellate courts, could overturn the lower court decision.
If you believe errors in your criminal trial led to an unfair result, an attorney could help you file an appeal. If errors occurred in the lower court, a Norwich appeals lawyer could ask to send a matter back to the trial court to correct the error. An appellate court could also overturn a conviction and vacate a sentence.
Contact Ruane Attorneys immediately if you wish to appeal a criminal court decision, as there are time limits for these types of claims.
Understanding the Appeals Process in Norwich
Connecticut General Statute §52-263 governs appeals from the Superior Court. If someone believes there was an error at trial, they could ask a panel of judges on a higher court to review the decision. A person requesting an appeal is called an appellant. An appellant could ask an appellate court to review a criminal conviction or a sentence.
An appeals attorney at our firm could scrutinize the trial record and note any factual errors or legal mistakes. Our legal team prepares a written report, called an appellate brief, pointing out the errors and showing how they prevented the appellant from getting a fair trial.
Appellate judges do not hear witnesses or look at evidence. Instead, they review appellate briefs from both sides. In some cases, they hear oral arguments where the attorneys make a presentation on their briefs, and the judges ask questions. Sometimes, the judges decide the appeal by reviewing each side’s brief without hearing from the attorneys in person.
Errors that Could Lead to Appeals
A mistake must impact the case’s outcome to merit an appeal. A court will not consider an appeal if the mistake is harmless or insignificant.
However, if it is unclear that an error was harmless, pursuing an appeal could be worthwhile. Appellate courts often consider appeals on the following grounds:
- The trial judge prevented the jury from hearing important evidence
- The trial judge allowed the jury to consider prejudicial evidence
- The trial judge misapplied the law in a way that harmed the appellant
- The prosecutor failed to turn over evidence that could have helped the appellant win the trial
- The prosecution excluded potential jurors for improper reasons like race
- The prosecution presented insufficient evidence to support a conviction
- The trial judge gave the jurors inadequate or improper instructions
- One or more jurors committed misconduct
A Norwich lawyer might find other problems in the trial record that could support an appeal. For instance, ineffective assistance of counsel could be a reasonable ground for appeal. Sometimes, the criminal defense lawyer fails to raise obvious defenses, object to violations of the defendant’s Constitutional rights, or present a competent case at trial. Arguing that the defense was ineffective could sway an appellate court to order a new trial.
Process for Bringing a Criminal Appeal
When a judge renders a verdict, the clock for requesting an appeal starts ticking. In most cases, a defendant can appeal immediately without the court’s permission. However, if the defense asks for a new trial when the judge announces the verdict and the judge denies the request, the defendant does not have the right to appeal that decision. Connecticut General Statute §54-95 says there is no right to appeal the denial of a new trial unless the court certifies within ten days that there is a question the higher court should resolve.
If a criminal defendant is out on bail when they file an appeal, the appeal delays the start of their criminal sentence. If the defendant was not granted bail, they must remain incarcerated until the higher court decides their appeal. Our lawyers in Norwich can further explain the legal nuances of filing an appeal and help a defendant understand their options.
Contact a Norwich Attorney to Appeal a Criminal Conviction
If your criminal trial ended unjustly, you do not need to give up. The law allows you to have a higher court review your conviction and the fairness of your trial.
You must file a notice of appeal within 20 days of your conviction, so there is no time to waste. Speak with a Norwich appeals lawyer about your case to determine your legal options. Call Ruane Attorneys today for the representation you need.