What Happens When I Appeal a Criminal Case?
A person convicted of a crime has the right to appeal. This means if you
are convicted of a crime, you have the right to ask a higher court to
review the lower court’s ruling. The first appeal in a criminal
case is known as a “direct appeal,” which a criminal defendant
may file after he or she is sentenced.
In Nebraska state courts, a criminal defendant has 30 days to appeal the
sentence from the date of the conviction. In federal court, a criminal
defendant has 14 days to file an appeal.
An appeal is a written notice to the court indicating the criminal defendant’s
desire to appeal the case. The criminal defendant must file notice of
the intent to appeal and must pay a filing fee, unless he or she is found
to be indigent.
What Happens If I Win on Appeal?
A common misconception many people have about appellate courts is that
if you win on appeal, your case is done. Unfortunately, this is not true.
Often, when a criminal defendant wins an appeal due to prosecutorial conduct,
an erroneous evidentiary decision by a judge, or a myriad of other mistakes,
the criminal case does not go away. Instead, the case is remanded to the
lower court with the instructions to fix the defect, which usually means
a new trial.
When a defendant appeals based on insufficient evidence and the appellate
court finds there was insufficient evidence to convict, the case will
not be retried. The double jeopardy clause of the fifth amendment of the
US Constitution prevents someone from being tried for the same crime twice.
If there is insufficient evidence to prove criminal charges at trial,
those charges will not be tried again.
However, winning a case based on insufficient evidence does not immediately
dispose of the case. When a defendant wins, sometimes the attorney general’s
office will either ask for a petition for further review by a higher appellate
court or for reconsideration by the court that made the decision. For
example, if a criminal defendant wins a case on appeal at the Nebraska
Court of Appeals, the attorney general’s office may petition the
Nebraska supreme court for further review of the decision and ask that
it be overturned. In a motion for reconsideration, if a criminal defendant
won a case at the court of appeals and the attorney general’s office
believed the court’s decision was wrong, it could ask the court
of appeals to reconsider its decision.
Why Appeal a Criminal Case?
There are several good reasons to appeal. For many people, the deciding
issue is a lengthy prison sentence. But those who receive a sentence of
probation and face no prison time may still decide to appeal because the
non-judicial consequences of a criminal conviction are life-altering.
For example, a person who receives a sentence of probation on a felony
conviction will still lose the right to possess a firearm or hold public
office. What’s worse is that a felony conviction will often cost
a person his or her current job and may even prevent future employment.
One Berry Law Firm client explained that a felony conviction would cost
him several millions of dollars over his lifetime because he would never
be able to work in the same profession again. In that instance, we knew
that if we did not win at trial, our client would appeal. While not every
person convicted of a crime wants to appeal, everyone has the right to do so.
If you are facing criminal charges, please
contact Berry Law Firm today.