by: Stephen Sebald

An appeal in the courts is a request or petition to the appellate division to look at the outcome of your case and determine whether the verdict was not supported by the weight of the evidence presented at trial, or if the lower court make a serious mistake that substantially effected the outcome of your trial. Appeals generally occur after the trial ends, once the verdict is announced. In criminal cases, a jury generally determines the trial outcome, and unfortunately, a jury does not always get it right. This is when appeals are valuable, but appeals can be incredibly complex.

For example, the appellate division is not going to look at new evidence, nor are they interested in hearing new arguments. They are looking specifically at the law, the verdict, and the evidence presented during the trial. If you bring an appeal for a serious mistake, you must demonstrate that the mistake was so substantial that it affected the outcome of your trial. This can be difficult to do, especially when trying to prove that the mistake was considerable.

Many questions can be asked when carefully examining the trial to determine whether a mistake did occur and whether that mistake was so affective to cause a detriment to your outcome. If you went to trial representing yourself or if you had a busy public defender representing you, it may be difficult for you to determine the specific mistake and how it so negatively affected your results, but that is when a good criminal defense attorney can come into play. Some common questions that may help focus on a particular mistake are as follows:

  • Did the judge wrongly exclude evidence that would have been the turning point for your case?
  • Did the judge wrongly admit evidence that was used against you, violating your rights?
  • Was the jury given appropriate and clear instruction?
  • Is the sentence you face way out of proportion for the circumstances of your case?

These questions focus on mistakes that are mainly made by the judge, but it is important to scrutinize these decisions made in your case. Judges are people and can make mistakes like anyone else, and that mistake might be so severe that your conviction is unfair. If you wish to appeal it, you must file a post-sentence motion ten days after the imposition of the sentence. If you filed a timely motion, you can file for an appeal within thirty days of the order. You have some time to make an appeal, but it depends on the how quickly sentencing takes place after the trial concludes. Sentencing usually occurs separately, and the judge can order the sentence to begin immediately or at a determined time in the future.

With all the rules and regulations, the process to appeal against a seemingly unfair verdict can become difficult. Stephen E. Sebald has the experience as a criminal defense attorney to help you with your appeal. As a former Assistant Public Defender, he has the knowledge to ask the right questions with regard to your trial. With a simple phone call, your appeal can become a lot easier. If the appellate division grants your appeal, having a defense attorney on case in the event the prosecutor appeals the appeal will go a long way in helping your case. If you were just convicted of a criminal offense and feel that there was a serious mistake that inaccurately swayed your outcome, call today at (814) 833-1987.