Being found guilty of criminal charges may not necessarily be the end of your legal battle. Criminal defendants are entitled to appeal their convictions if they believe a harmful error played a role in their trial. An appeal is not the same thing as a trial. This is not merely a do-over. An appeal involves analyzing the decisions of the lower trial court and determining if anything went haywire.
If you were found guilty of a crime, you should give serious consideration to filing an appeal. Our Salt Lake City criminal appeals attorney can help you get your appeals process started. An appeal could result in a new trial where you will have a second chance to fight your charges and clear your name. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to schedule a free and confidential legal consultation regarding your appeal.
Definition of a Direct Appeal in Salt Lake City
Your case likely started in a Utah District Court, the state court of general jurisdiction where most criminal cases would begin. If you were convicted, you have a limited time to file your direct appeal. You must file a Notice of Appeal no more than 30 days after the entry of a final judgment in your criminal case. Your case will then move to the Utah Court of Appeals. It is here that the appellate court will review the record of your case and trial from the lower trial court. Exactly how the court conducts its review will depend on your arguments on appeal.
You may file a direct appeal only once, so it is important to include every argument for appeal in your filing. The reason for your appeal will affect how the court examines your case. If you claim there was a mistake involving evidence, the court will examine the evidence. If you claim there was a procedural error, the court will focus on the lower court’s procedure. Call our Salt Lake City criminal appeals attorney for help filing your appeal.
Reasons to Appeal Your Criminal Case in Salt Lake City
There are many different reasons why someone might want to appeal their conviction. Some of the most common reasons for an appeal are grounded in evidence and procedure. If specific rules regarding these subjects are not adhered to, you might have a good reason to file an appeal.
Problems with Evidence
Evidence in a criminal trial is guided by a rather long and complicated set of rules. These rules spell out how certain pieces of evidence can and cannot come into play during a trial. These rules apply to real physical evidence as well as testimonial evidence. Some rules are relatively straightforward, while others can be somewhat convoluted. It is not impossible, or even uncommon, for a judge to misapply a complicated rule of evidence and allow something in that should have been left out.
One example of an evidentiary problem is the suppression of evidence related to unlawful searches and seizures. When the police conduct a search and seize evidence, they need a valid warrant. If they search without a warrant or with an invalid warrant, any evidence obtained can be suppressed, and it will not be heard at trial. If a judge mistakenly ruled that an invalid warrant was valid, allowing tainted evidence to be heard by a jury, that would be grounds for an appeal. Our Salt Lake City criminal appeals lawyer can help you determine if there were any evidence issues at your trial that could be heard on appeal.
Criminal procedure can feel tedious and mundane. There are so many different rules to follow and so many little steps in the criminal justice process, and many people think some of these steps are unnecessary or overkill. However, every step exists for a reason and when some steps are not followed, it results in appealable errors.
For example, one important procedural step is selecting a fair and impartial jury of the defendant’s peers. It can be tempting for attorneys to pick jury members who they believe are the most likely to favor their side of the case. However, jury members cannot be chosen based on arbitrary reasons like race, gender, or religion. For example, a prosecutor cannot exclude black jurors from a jury panel because they think black jurors would sympathize with a black defendant. If you believe something like this happened in your case, you may be able to appeal. Our Salt Lake City criminal appeals lawyer can help you get the process started.
Appealing Beyond Your Direct Appeal in Salt Lake City
There are still other collateral appeals options if you are denied on a direct appeal or missed the deadline. For example, if you believe law enforcement or prosecutors did something to violate your US Constitutional rights, you may still be able to appeal. This may include things like denying you an attorney when you were legally entitled to one or conducting questioning by the police without reading you your Miranda rights.
You can also appeal if your first attorney was so incompetent that you think you were denied a fair trial. Not every lawyer is a good lawyer. Sometimes lawyers make huge mistakes that cost their clients dearly. You may have missed your deadline for a direct appeal because of your attorney’s incompetence. If this is the case, you can appeal on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. You could be granted a new attorney and a new trial.
You can also appeal if there is new evidence that was not available during your first trial. This is common for cases where the defendant was convicted years ago before DNA evidence was a possibility. With new DNA evidence, many defendants were able to appeal their cases and get new trials. Our Salt Lake City criminal appeals attorney can help you find new evidence and start your appeal.
Reach Out to Our Salt Lake City Appeals Attorney for a Consultation About Your Case
If you or someone you know was convicted of a crime in Utah, reach out to our Salt Lake City criminal appeals lawyer as soon as possible. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 and ask about a free legal consultation.