When someone wishes to challenge a court conviction in the State of California, one option is to file an appeal. An appeal is a request to have a higher court, known as an appellate court, review the decision made by a lower court. Ultimately, an appeal seeks to have the original decision made by the lower court changed by the higher court.
Could I Appeal?
Once a defendant has gone through his or trial and has been declared guilty, in some cases, it doesn’t have to be the end of the legal process for him or her. A felony conviction in California often yields a state prison sentence, which can cause the defendant a great deal of distress. The good news for him or her is a skilled attorney may be able to get the conviction overturned through the appeal process. It is advisable to meet with an attorney, who is familiar with the appeal process in California, to discuss if an appeal is a reasonable option. The attorney will review the grounds on which it is appropriate to appeal a criminal conviction. An appellate court will not reweigh the evidence. Instead, the appellate court looks for legal errors and/or misconduct. These errors or inappropriate behavior displayed by the judge, jury or lawyers could show the defendant was not treated fairly.
What Are Common Grounds For An Appeal?
- Insufficient Evidence
In California, using insufficient evidence could equate to a legal error. This means that the evidence the prosecution presented in court was not sufficient enough to support the jury’s verdict. For example, a jury can’t convict someone of murder when the victim did not die. There would not be enough evidence for a conviction, especially if the victim is alive and able to discuss the situation that unfolded. This is a pretty obvious way to show an appeal would be a necessary step to get the murder conviction overturned, as the conviction was not fair.
- Misconduct By The Prosecution
A prosecutor does seek to get the defendant convicted for his or her alleged criminal activity. However, most importantly, the prosecutor is supposed to seek justice for both parties, even the defendant. It is not uncommon, however, for a prosecutor to display misconduct, especially when he or she is more focused on proving the guilt of the defendant than playing by the rules.What would be considered misconduct by the prosecution? Using evidence that was obtained illegally, would be one example. If a prosecuting attorney intimidates a witness of the defense, this also could be a form of misconduct. A prosecutor also could be found guilty of misconduct if he or she expresses his own views on whether or not the defendant or a defense witness is speaking the truth or if he or she misrepresents the law to the jury. If the prosecution withholds evidence, this also could be grounds for an appeal due to misconduct by the prosecutor.
- Misconduct By The Jury
The members of a jury are instructed to obey the law and the instructions provided by the judge. However, jurors do violate the oath they take to uphold the law and follow the judge’s rules. This is known as jury or juror misconduct. At times, the misconduct results in an unfair ruling for the defendant. If misconduct by the jury is discovered, an appeal could result in an overturned conviction for the defendant. What would classify as juror misconduct? If a juror speaks to another person, aside from a fellow juror during deliberations, about the case then this is misconduct by the jury. Another example would be if a juror takes into account evidence not presented during the trial, known as outside evidence. Furthermore, a juror who simply refuses to deliberate is also guilty of misconduct.