If you have been convicted of a criminal offense, you may have the right to have another court review your original conviction. You will have an appellate attorney who will present this court with an appeal brief that presents arguments as to why the conviction was improper. Any issues that were not raised at trial are usually excluded from being a part of your appeal; the appeal is limited to what actually happened at your original trial. A loss at trial could be overturned on appeal, with a new trial ordered, or even an acquittal. Appeals are usually only granted when there is an issue with the law that was applied, or how that law was applied.
What Does an Appellate Attorney Do?
Appeals are a specialized area of the law; appellate lawyers take cases from lower trial courts such as criminal courts, challenging those cases in higher courts. Appeals can take place in both state and federal courts. At the state level, there is a Court of Appeals and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Federal Courts have Circuit Courts that hear trial court issues, and there is the United States Supreme Court.
Appellate attorneys take cases from trial courts, appealing them to a higher court. The goal of an appeal is to have an appeal court overturn an error of law, a jury’s verdict, or review a trial court judge’s decision to suppress a motion, exclude evidence, suppress evidence, continue a trial, or challenge a sentence imposed. The appellate attorney must be able to file a compelling brief that persuasively argues the merits of the law as it applies to facts presented before the trial judge and jury. Your trial lawyer will object before or during a trial in order to preserve the issue for appeal.
An objection is necessary to give the trial court the chance to make a decision on a matter of law. The exception to this is an error that is so extreme or unfair that it can be reviewed by an appellate court even if there was no objection by the attorney. An appellate attorney may not introduce new evidence on appeal, but rather must use facts, evidence, and matters of law presented to the trial court.
Why Should You Choose an Appellate Attorney from Whalen Law Office?
If you need an attorney who has the extensive research and writing experience necessary for a successful appeal, you need attorneys James P. Whalen and Ryne T. Sandel from Whalen Law Office. Whether they are seeking to affirm a decision in favor of their client, or reversing a guilty verdict, Whalen Law Office will provide the time and consideration necessary for an appeal, working toward the most beneficial outcome on your behalf.
Every single court document will be comprehensively reviewed to determine whether there were incorrect rulings, insufficient evidence, or another issue made by the court that led to your unfavorable verdict and sentence. Time is crucial in every appeals case, and the Whalen Law Office will make sure your appeals documents are filed in a timely manner. We will use convincing, clear language to prepare your brief, specify the reason for the appeal, and monitor closely to determine whether a response from the other party is recorded with the appellate court in a timely manner.
Our firm has a well-deserved reputation for representing clients with respect, skill, and care. No matter what verdict is hanging over your head, all crucial evidence and transcripts will be carefully considered for your best chance of appeal. Appellate attorneys James Whalen and Ryne T. Sandel can help you with a federal or state appeal, giving you the best chance of a positive outcome.
What Decisions Can Be Appealed?
If you have been convicted of a criminal offense, there are three primary reasons for appeal (there are others, but these three are just the most common). These include:
- Evidentiary Issues—These issues may occur before or during your trial, during the pretrial motion phase, or during the actual trial. If the judge in your case makes an improper legal ruling regarding whether certain evidence should be allowed or excluded, you may have grounds for appeal. This is only true if the issue would have made a material difference in the outcome of your trial. Perhaps you believe there was insufficient evidence to support your guilty verdict. This could give you grounds for appeal, in that the jury found you guilty because they were biased or ruled on emotions rather than on the facts presented.
- Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, every person has the right to effective legal counsel. This means that if your trial attorney did not provide competent counsel, an appeal could be possible. It is worth noting that simply because you did not agree with a certain tactic used by your attorney, you are not entitled to appeal on these grounds. Further, the appellate court could decide that even though your counsel was ineffective, the overall outcome of the verdict was not changed because of this. If, however, a key witness was not called by your attorney, the attorney neglected to tell you of a plea deal offered by the prosecution, or your attorney was actively colluding with the prosecutor, you could have a valid appeal for ineffective assistance of counsel.
- Plain error can encompass many different actions or rulings that affected your Constitutional rights during your trial. Plain error can include blatant mistakes made by the judge regarding the law or application of the law, jury instructions given by the judge, or sentencing errors following your conviction. If any of these mistakes clearly had an effect on the outcome of your case, then the appellate court might agree to hear your attorney’s argument.
What is Appellate Law?
Appellate law takes decisions made by the judge and other court processes beyond the trial court by asking a higher court to review a part of the decision or the entire decision. Appellate law occurs at both state and federal levels. The appellate court reviews procedural issues of law that may have resulted in a different outcome if the trial court had not made an error.
Appellate law takes the full transcript of the trial, including motions, order, evidence, exhibits, voir dire, and any other relevant documents into account. An appellate attorney will present the best arguments for appeal through a brief, then will be given the opportunity to argue those points orally before the appellate court who will either uphold the lower court’s decision, reverse the decision, remand the issue back to the lower court, or order an acquittal.
Importantly, an appeal is not a new trial, and in general, new evidence cannot be presented in appellate law. No witnesses may be called. The appellate court generally addresses the sufficiency of the evidence to support a jury’s finding of guilt and mistakes made before or during your trial.
Can New Evidence Be Raised on Appeal?
New evidence can generally not be raised in an appellate court. Appellate courts are not concerned with new facts or evidence, only errors made in the processes during your trial as well as whether your judge correctly interpreted the law. It is said that “Trial Courts try the facts and Appellate Courts try the Trial Courts.” This means the appellate court will be looking at what was presented during the original trial, then deciding if the judge made any mistakes in the legal procedures (like admitting or refusing to admit evidence) or in his or her interpretation of the law.
If such mistakes are found, you could be granted a new trial. It can be frustrating to find that evidence that might prove your innocence cannot be presented to the appellate court. The goal of your appellate attorney will be to have the original verdict overturned, usually based on insufficient evidence or errors of law, then any new evidence can be presented at your new trial. If you lose your appeal, the process usually ends unless there is an appeal to a higher court. Losing an appeal means the decisions made at your original trial stand.
Should I Hire an Appellate Attorney to Be on My Trial Team?
If you are being tried for a serious criminal offense with serious penalties, it can be a very good idea to have an appellate attorney on your trial team. An appellate attorney has a good understanding of what should be objected to in order to preserve the issue for appeal. An appellate attorney ensures any errors and records are properly preserved in the event of an appeal. Since many law firms are not equipped to handle appeals, having a law firm like the Whalen Law Office with an experienced appellate attorney can truly make a difference.
How a Whalen Law Office Defense Attorney Knowledgeable in Appellate Law Can Help
Those seeking post-conviction relief, or those who want to ensure their ability to appeal an adverse decision is preserved should consider Whalen Law Office. Not only does our firm provide highly experienced criminal representation, but attorneys James P. Whalen and Ryne T. Sandel are both knowledgeable, experienced appellate attorneys. This is extremely important when your freedom and your future are on the line. Contact Whalen Law Office today to speak to a highly skilled appellate attorney.