If you were convicted of a crime, your case might not be over yet. There are ways that you can continue to fight your case after being convicted and sentenced, especially if there were serious issues during your trial. Most defendants go through trial and sentencing with an attorney they choose or one appointed to them by the government. Just like at trial, your first round of appeals is guaranteed the right to an attorney. Take advantage of this right and continue to fight your case today.
In Salt Lake City, criminal appeals lawyer Darwin Overson handles direct and collateral appeals for those who have been convicted of a crime. Whether your conviction was the result of a plea bargain or a conviction at trial, you may have ways to get a new trial or have the ruling overturned. For a free consultation on your case or your loved one’s case, call Darwin Overson today at (801) 895-3143.
Utah Direct Appeals
If you were recently convicted for a crime in Utah, you may have a limited amount of time to file what’s called a “direct appeal” on your case. The purpose of an appeal is to challenge legal decisions that the judge made at trial, the trial conditions, or the way that the law was applied to the facts of your case. When your case goes to trial in the first place, there are dozens of legal decisions regarding the rules of evidence, suppression, and procedure that your attorney may attempt to challenge. If the trial judge makes the wrong decision, an appeal may be able to overturn your conviction and give you another chance to defend against the charges.
The Utah Rules of Evidence dictate what information can “come in” at a trial, the purposes attorneys can use the evidence for, and the way that evidence can be used. They also dictate exactly how the jury is allowed to use witness testimony and other information. Many times during trial, attorneys on both sides will “object” to evidence or questions based on these evidence rules. The judge gets the final say as to whether the evidence or testimony is allowed, but sometimes the judge gets it wrong.
Some evidentiary rules are very confusing, and judges may misinterpret them in your situation. If your attorney tried to use evidence that was unfairly blocked or was overruled on an objection that should have been sustained, you may be able to appeal the judge’s decision. If significant evidence of your innocence, character witnesses, or scientific information was unfairly kept out of your case, your entire trial may have been tainted. Appealing these evidentiary rulings could be the key to getting a new trial – one that will include this evidence.
When police collect evidence of your crime, they are required to follow certain rules and procedures. Many of these rules have a penalty for police who violate them: “suppression.” If police illegally seize evidence, enter your house without a warrant, or otherwise violate your privacy and civil rights to collect evidence, obtain a confession, or question you without reading you your rights, you may be entitled to have a judge block that illegally-obtained evidence.
If the trial judge refuses to suppress illegal evidence, your entire case may suffer. The trial judge’s suppression decisions may be the key to winning a trial – or the nail in the coffin for losing a trial. Some of these decisions are made before trial and can even be appealed right away through an “interlocutory appeal.” Talk to an appeals attorney about unjust decisions made before or during trial.
The law has very formal processes for proving guilt or innocence at trial. While rules are sometimes ignored as “merely procedural,” criminal procedure rules are vital to protecting the trial process and your rights. If police, prosecutors, or judges violate these rules, your entire trial’s ability to determine the truth may be tarnished.
Many procedural rules deal with what charges are filed and how a jury is assembled. Procedural rules for trials require that every charge has a probable cause ruling before it goes to trial. This means that charges that haven’t been tested cannot suddenly be added at trial. Duplicate, overlapping, or repeat charges may also be illegal under rules like the “Double Jeopardy” rule. The right to a jury trial means the right to an impartial jury of your peers. If the jury was improperly selected, created without your race represented in the pool of jurors, or biased jurors were allowed on the panel, your case may be overturned.
Utah Post-Conviction and Collateral Appeals
If your direct appeal was denied or you missed the opportunity to appeal, you may still have options. Many of these “collateral” appeals allow people who have been sitting in jail to get a chance to challenge their charges again. Many of these cases may require help from someone outside of prison, such as family or friends who can pay and contact an attorney on the prisoner’s behalf. Regardless, these tools may help you challenge your conviction, even months or years after you were convicted.
Violated Constitutional Rights
If the government violated your constitutional rights at trial, you may be entitled to a new trial. Even if a trial was years old, if it violated the Constitution, its ruling cannot stand. One of the biggest examples of violated constitutional rights is a “Brady violation.” At trial, the prosecutors are required to hand over any evidence that may point to the defendant’s innocence. If you later discover that the government hid evidence that would have helped show your innocence, you may be entitled to a new trial.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
The right to an attorney at trial does not mean that you merely need a warm body to defend you. Everyone is entitled to a fair trial, and one of the greatest tools for a fair trial is having effective legal representation. If your attorney was grossly inadequate, violated ethics rules, ignored evidence that would have helped you, missed deadlines, failed to warn you about the potential penalties, or otherwise failed you as a client, you may be entitled to a new trial with an effective attorney.
Newly-discovered evidence or science may help free wrongly-convicted prisoners. If you were put in jail due to bad science involving DNA, ballistics, fire science, autopsies, or other areas, you may be entitled to a new trial. However, you need to act fast. Petitions for a new trial based on new evidence may need to be filed immediately. These petitions must be based on truly new evidence or science that was not available at the time; evidence that summarizes other evidence, or evidence that was easily available but not used as part of a legal strategy may not count.
Salt Lake City Appeals Attorney
If you were convicted because of legal errors, constitutional errors, or other problems with the judge, jury, or your lawyer, consider filing an appeal today. Salt Lake City criminal appeals lawyer Darwin Overson may be able to file the paperwork and make the arguments that could overturn your conviction and give you another chance to fight your case. For a free consultation on your criminal appeals, call (801) 895-3143 today.