Let's review why seeking a post-conviction attorney for your appeal is so important. If you are convicted of a federal crime, it is not necessarily the end of the road. The United States justice system gives defendants the right to appeal their convictions.
If the appeal is successful, it offers a chance at rectification or even exoneration. That said, the path to a successful federal appeal is complex and requires skilled legal guidance from an attorney experienced explicitly in post-conviction appeals.
Your lawyer must do more than prove you were not guilty to win your criminal appeal. They must show that a material mistake was made at the original trial, and the error must warrant reconsideration of your conviction.
In other words, an essential part of an appeal is finding material errors that occurred during your trial. We must closely scrutinize what happened in front of the judge or at any other stage of your case.
Appeals are often won by finding mistakes made by prior attorneys, improper statements by the federal judge or prosecutor, and legal errors. We can determine if a factual or legal mistake violated your rights and make an argument on appeal.
A Court of Appeal is an intermediate court of review that hears cases on appealable orders and judgments from a Superior Court. Finding an appeals lawyer promptly is essential if you are wrongfully convicted of a crime.
There are deadlines within which your appeal and other documents must be filed. If you fail to act promptly, your request may be dismissed. You must file a Notice of Appeal within 14 days of the entry of the final judgment in your original case. The district court judge could extend this deadline for up to 30 days.
If your federal trial process had errors or inconsistencies that unfairly impacted your conviction, let's discuss why you need a post-conviction attorney to help you with your appeal.
Navigating the Federal Appeals Process
An appeal is not a do-over of the original trial or about rearguing the case based on its merits. Instead, an appeal is a process where the appellate court reviews the proceedings and decisions of the original trial to determine if there were legal errors that could have influenced the outcome of the case.
In short, the U.S. Court of Appeals aims to determine whether the lower court applied the law correctly in your case. If they find errors in the case that resulted in you being denied due process and, therefore, wrongfully convicted, the appeals court will either overturn the conviction or remand the case back to the lower court to address the errors.
What are the Common Reasons to File a Post-Conviction Appeal?
Because the Court of Appeals will not re-hear or re-try your case, your attorney will typically file an appeal citing either errors in applying the law or issues that violated your Constitutional rights during your trial. Common specific arguments that may be raised include:
- Erroneous Jury Instructions: The court may have given incorrect or misleading instructions to the jury, which could have influenced their decision. This constitutes a legal error that can be grounds for an appeal.
- Prosecutorial Misconduct: Instances where the prosecutor acted unethically or illegally during the trial, such as withholding exculpatory evidence, can be grounds for an appeal.
- Ineffective Assistance of Counsel: If the defense attorney failed to provide competent representation, it might be possible to appeal the conviction. This could include failure to present crucial evidence, improper cross-examination, or lack of preparation.
- Violation of Constitutional Rights: Any violation of the defendant's constitutional rights during the trial, such as the right to a fair trial, right to counsel, or protection against self-incrimination, can form the basis of an appeal.
- Improper Admission or Exclusion of Evidence: The trial court may have erroneously allowed or disallowed certain pieces of evidence, affecting the trial outcome.
- Biased Jury: If there is evidence that the jury was biased or prejudiced against the defendant, an appeal may be valid.
- Sentencing Errors: If the sentence imposed is disproportionate to the crime, based on incorrect information, or exceeds statutory limits, an appeal may be possible.
How a Post-Conviction Attorney Can Help?
Appealing a conviction is a complicated matter with specific rules and tight deadlines, and it's a process that seldom succeeds by representing yourself.
This process demands a comprehensive understanding of case law, statutory interpretation, and procedural rules, which can be daunting for someone not trained in law and even be challenging for an attorney who lacks experience with federal appeals.
Post-conviction attorneys have specific experience in handling matters that arise after a conviction. These attorneys bring a wealth of experience and legal knowledge, enabling them to navigate the often-confusing maze of the federal appeals process. A post-conviction attorney can help in the following ways:
- Identifying Legal Errors. By meticulously scrutinizing the trial records, a post-conviction attorney can pinpoint any legal errors that may have occurred. These errors could vary from procedural missteps, such as the court giving incorrect instructions to the jury, to more substantive ones, like a verdict unsupported by sufficient evidence.
- Preparing and Filing Briefs. Since many appeals are decided without the benefit of oral arguments, the brief is one of the most critical aspects of the appeal. It's a written legal argument outlining the trial court's errors and compelling reasons why the appellate court should overturn the conviction. A good post-conviction attorney is exceptionally skilled in drafting these documents.
- Seeking Post-Conviction Relief. An appeals attorney can employ numerous strategies to obtain post-conviction relief for you. These include filing applicable motions such as habeas corpus petitions or a motion for a new trial.
- Presenting Oral Arguments. In some instances, appellate judges may schedule oral arguments to get more context on an appeal. This provides an additional opportunity for the attorney to persuade the appellate judges to rule in your favor based on the merits of their arguments.
Federal Criminal Appeals Law Firm
We represent clients in California and Los Angeles in criminal appeals, appealing from the United States District Courts of the Central District of California and all the related divisions, including criminal appeals from trials in the Eastern District, Southern District, and Northern District.
Federal criminal appeals from the courts in the Central District come from all counties in the greater Los Angeles area, including Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, and San Luis Obispo.
All federal criminal appeals from the Central District of California will be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We represent people at the appellate level convicted of all federal crimes, such as embezzlement, drug trafficking, wire fraud, RICO, conspiracy, and weapons offenses.
As noted, post-conviction motions have deadlines. Many must be made within 14 days of your conviction. Some motions and petitions include a motion for judgment of acquittal, a motion for arrest of judgment, a motion for a new trial, and a petition for rehearing.
A writ of habeas corpus might be another appeal option in your case, but it has different deadlines from traditional appeals. Writs of habeas corpus are complex appeals and require you to meet specific elements with your arguments. Contact our law firm for a case review and to discuss legal options. Eisner Gorin LLP has offices in Los Angeles, CA.