Stages Of A Criminal Case Appeals

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After a criminal has been convicted and sentenced by a judge, he or she may choose to appeal the case, either in hopes for alteration in the sentencing or to reverse the entire conviction. Appeals must be made shortly after conviction and sentencing because there are always time limitations. Generally, defendant have 30 days following a verdict to appeal the decision, and the appeal must be under some grounds.

A higher court will handle an appeal. In this situation, the court handling the appeal is considered the appellate court. The party requesting an appeal must prove that an error was made in the lower court, not just that the outcome was unfavorable. Legal errors may include: Errors in the judge's instructions to the jury, juror misconduct, insufficient evidences supporting a guilty verdict, inadmissible evidence being allowed in the courtroom, including evidence obtained as a violation of Constitutional rights, and appearance of new evidence surrounding the case. One or more of those needs to be proven in order to dismiss the case, re-try, or re-sentence the appellant.

The prosecution is not allowed to try a defendant for the same crime using the same evidence in a second trial. This is commonly referred to as double jeopardy. Citizens of the United States are protected from double jeopardy by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

The most common form of prosecutorial appeal is made during the trial and regards rulings handed down by the judge concerning permitted and prohibited evidence.

Appeals, which may take place on the federal and state level, tend to be very lengthy. The appellate court is only allowed to use any new evidence that has surfaced since the initial trial. States have very different appellate court procedures. For an appeal in the federal level, the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure are used.

It is important to not confuse an appeal with a writ. Writs are used when the defendant has no other means to contest a conviction or sentence. A writ of habeas corpus is used on the federal level, and only when there are no other options of appeal to be made.

There are several instances in which an appeal will not be granted. Usually one appeal is allowed. If an appeal has failed on behalf of the defendant, a writ may be one of the only options available to alter the severity of the sentence or the actual conviction.

If the defendant is found not guilty in a criminal case, the prosecutor is usually not allowed to appeal the decision.