An individual who has been convicted of a criminal offense has a number of options for seeking additional relief from the criminal justice system—which includes filing an appeal to have the conviction overturned or the sentenced reduced.
In an appeal, the defendant (now known as the “appellant”) argues that the case should be dismissed or the appellant should be retried or resentenced—based on specific legal mistakes which affected the jury’s decision and/or the sentence imposed.
Grounds for Appeal
Possible grounds for appeal in a criminal case include legal error, juror misconduct, and ineffective assistance of counsel.
Legal errors may be caused by improperly admitted evidence, lack of evidence to support a guilty verdict, or incorrect jury instructions. In order to be granted an appeal, the appellate court needs to find that these errors made an impact on the outcome of the case. If the errors would not have changed the verdict, however, the conviction will remain.
If a defendant has reason to believe that the jury conducted itself improperly during deliberations or the trial itself, a conviction may also be appealed. Jury misconduct includes improper communications between jurors and witnesses of the counsel, as well as alcohol or drug abuse during the course of the trial.
Lastly, appellants can use the ineffective assistance of counsel claim. They must prove that the outcome of the case would have been different if it wasn’t for their counsel’s actions.
Process of Appealing Your Case
If a state court convicts a defendant, the ruling can be appealed in an intermediate-level state appellate court. If the defendant is unsuccessful in the intermediate court, he or she may appeal their conviction to the state’s highest court, such as the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
Remember, an appeal is not considered a retrial of the case. Instead, the appellate court reviews the record of the lower court’s proceedings to determine whether there are adequate grounds to grant an appeal. No new evidence will be admitted in an appeal.
An appellate attorney can present a well-written and concise legal argument about contested points and issues related to the case record. Our Rhode Island Attorneys at The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq. have represented clients with appeals before the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal, District Courts, and Superior Courts.
For more information, request a free consultation with our Rhode Island criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq. today.