Appeals are available for those criminal defendants who are convicted and file an appeal within 30 days of sentencing. Generally, the right to appeal is available to those who plead not guilty. There is generally no right to appeal where the criminal suspect pleads no contest or guilty. One instance where it would be available is if the sentence is excessive. Appeals are not retrials of the facts of a case. They are proceedings that challenge whether the court followed the law in presiding over the trial stage. Often, errors of law found at the appellate level are deemed “harmless error,” and thus do not result is a reversal of conviction. If the appellate court finds an error of law at the trial level that was material and adverse to the defendant, the court may reverse the conviction, remand the case back to the trial court, or order a retrial. The burden of proof at the appellate level belongs to the person bringing the appeal. This person, generally the defendant, becomes the appellant, and the State is generally the appellee. The criminal defense attorney is often the same person who will litigate the appeal, and when he or she does so, he or she must show the appellate court the exact error made at the trial level. The lawyer may not simply throw out a net and hope to catch an error. While the case is pending appeal, the judge has the discretion to allow the defendant’s release on bail until the appellate process is complete.
The information on this page does not represent legal advice. Because the law is continually changing, some of the provisions contained herein may be out of date. It is always wise to seek counsel from an experienced criminal attorney like Kenneth Hassett.