Criminal Appeals: The Basics

Posted on: 14 September 2021

You or someone you know have may have recently experienced what you feel is injustice from the legal system. Maybe you were charged with something you weren't guilty of, or given an unfair sentence. If this has happened or is happening to you, it may feel like the end of the road. Luckily, you may have the option to file for a criminal appeal. 

What Is a Criminal Appeal?

After being convicted, if you feel that your sentence is unfair or that the courts were working against you, you may be able to file a criminal appeal to have to charges dropped or your sentences lowered. You cannot file an appeal based on anything, though. There are a few ground rules that garner an appeal, but you only need to meet one. 

Grounds for filing criminal appeals can include:

  • Plain errors (e.g. sentence miscalculations, inconsistent jury instructions)

  • Weight of evidence does not favor the verdict (e.g. improper admission of evidence or testimonies, use of the word "maybe" in a testimony)

  • Abuse of discretion by a judge (e.g. sentencing based on biased views, misinterpreting the laws)

  • Ineffective assistance of counsel (e.g. inadequate representation from a lawyer, sleeping jurors)

Filing a Criminal Appeal

Oftentimes, you will hire a separate lawyer who specializes in criminal appeals. Hiring a criminal appeals attorney may be a good idea if this is new territory for you. They will help you through the appeal process and make sure you are aware of every outcome. After filing your appeal with the courts, they will review the case information and transcriptions to come to a decision.

The court's decision could be any of the following:

  • Stick with the original ruling

  • Order new trial 

  • Change the ruling

  • Throw out the case

It's important to note that throwing out the case entirely is rare. You should not walk into the case of an appeal only hoping to get all charges dropped. Even getting a new trial or a lessened sentence is a win. 

Cost of a Criminal Appeal

Depending on the reason you are appealing your case, it can be expensive. If your appeal revolves around the evidence, it may cost more to appeal the case due to your lawyer needing to print and go through the case information again. For a simple case, the cost of the appeal should not cost more than $10,000, but if it requires more time and work for your lawyer it can cost anywhere up to $30,000

For more information about criminal appeals, look for a local service, such as Elizabeth Franklin-Best, P.C.