If you have been convicted of a crime, the reading of the verdict can feel like a huge weight has fallen squarely on your shoulders. The reading of your sentence can be devastating. These conclusions reached in the trial court, however, are not necessarily the final say. You may have the opportunity to appeal the rulings. Essentially, an appeal is a legal proceeding that can happen after an unfavorable ruling. You are asking the court to reconsider certain aspects of the case in order for a different outcome to be reached.
Appealing a Criminal Sentence
While it is more common to challenge a conviction, it is possible to challenge a sentence. The opportunity to appeal your conviction or your sentence is automatic if you were convicted at trial. In the event that you pled guilty and did not go to trial, this opportunity to appeal is not automatic and you will need to ask the court permission to file an appeal of your plea. Whether you are appealing your sentence or your conviction, you must keep in mind that an appeal is only to be used to challenge specific errors that allegedly occurred during your criminal proceedings. An appeal is not another chance for your case to be presented in a full trial.
Criminal sentences, generally speaking, cannot be appealed if they are lawful. A lawful sentence is one that is constitutional and not unreasonably excessive. If a judge imposed a sentence on a criminal defendant that was in excess of the allowable punishment for that particular crime, an appeals court would have the authority to correct the sentence. An appeals court may also hear a sentencing appeal and grant the appeal if the jury enhanced a sentence based on facts that it did not find to be true beyond a reasonable doubt. A sentencing appeal may also be granted in cases where the sentence was handed down after a continuance was improperly denied. Ineffective assistance of counsel may also be the basis of an appeal of a criminal sentence. Furthermore, a defendant may appeal a sentence that may have been vindictively imposed. Evidence of a vindictive sentence may be something like a case returning to a trial judge after a successful appeal and the judge imposes a harsher sentence on the defendant during resentencing and there is no new information that would substantiate this. The law protects defendants from things like this
Each state has specific rules regarding when a defendant may seek the appeal of a criminal sentence. For instance, some states will allow a sentence to be reviewed on appeal if it is possible that the sentence was disproportionate to the crime. This is true even if the sentence did not exceed the maximum punishment allowed under the law. Also, some states require the defendant to notify the sentencing judge about an illegal sentence in order for an appellate court to be authorized to review it.
Criminal Defense Attorney
An appeal is a huge opportunity to rectify a wrong that would have devastating consequences for you. A conviction at trial is not the end. Our dedicated criminal appeal attorneys at Dickman Law Office are prepared to fight for you on appeal. We are committed to protecting the legal rights of our clients. Contact us today.
Posted in: Criminal Defense