In the State of California, there are several grounds on which to appeal a conviction. The odds of overturning a California conviction on an appeal can be favorable if the defendant has a criminal defense attorney presenting a strong argument on his or her behalf. One of the grounds on which to appeal a conviction in California is improper admission or exclusion of evidence, if it is believed that a judgement error was made. This argument can be a successful one if the defendant has a skilled defense attorney assisting him or her with the appeal process.
What is evidence?
Evidence is material presented during a case to prove a fact that is at issue. Evidence is considered to be relevant during a case when there is reason to believe that the material should be offered to prove or disprove an issue. A piece of evidence will be admitted unless it is incompetent or it goes against an exclusionary rule. In general, if evidence is believed to be relevant material and competent then it is admissible. However, the court may exclude relevant evidence if the value of it is significantly outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.
What is improper admission or exclusion of evidence?
Before a jury is called in to a trial to hear the evidence, the lawyers on the case meet with the judge during a special hearing. This California special hearing is known as a Penal Code 402 hearing or a motion in limine. During Penal Code 402 hearings, the defense and prosecution debate which pieces of evidence should be admissible during the trial. A prosecuting attorney, obviously, strives to get the judge to allow the strongest evidence – known also as exculpatory evidence – against the defendant to be presented. On the other hand, the criminal defense attorney seeks to keep the exculpatory evidence from being presented to the jury. It is the duty of the judge to decide which pieces of evidence should or should not be included. However, in some cases, the California judge makes a poor choice. If a judge permits improper evidence to be presented during the trial, an unfair conviction may result. If this happens, an appeal can be made on the grounds that the judge made a mistake when ruling on the admission and exclusion of evidence during the Penal Code 402 hearing.
Preparing the appeal
If a defendant and his or her legal counsel believe it is appropriate to appeal a conviction. The criminal defense attorney will likely create a list of all the alleged errors in the case. This may include the improper admission or exclusion of evidence. If the attorney believes strongly that the California judge erroneously admitted or suppressed evidence, for example, than the criminal defense lawyer will initiate the appeal process to obtain justice for his or her client.