To the general public, one of the most insignificant parts of a trial occurs immediately after the prosecution has presented their case, including all the proof, to the judge. The judge then instructs the jury as to the specific elements which must be present in order to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. For serious charges, like homicide, this process can take quite some time and may seem repetitive. What criminal defendants may be unaware of, though, is this can be one place an error may occur that could lead to an appeal.
A judge, who gives any faulty instructions during this seemingly unimportant time, by incorrectly stating one of the elements of the charge or by misstating the actual charge against the defendant, has deprived the defendant of knowing that he was being tried for the stated charge.
Stating a faulty charge is grounds for a mistrial and gives the defendant the chance for the case to be re-heard before a new jury. If you suspect you or a loved one has experienced a faulty charge by the judge, contact an experienced Covington criminal appeals attorney to discuss filing an appeal.