If you were convicted of a crime in California, you might have the opportunity to appeal. This means requesting that the next highest court review your case for a particular legal error and either confirm the decision, overturn the decision, or send the case back to the lower court for review or a new trial. Criminal appeals are an essential part of the criminal justice system. The courts recognize that lawyers, judges, and jurors can make mistakes the first time around. An appeal allows you to point out a specific mistake and have it corrected.
If you believe a legal error occurred during your criminal case, you should talk reach out to Spolin Law P.C. to speak with a California appeals lawyer or staff member. We can review your case record, determine whether a legal mistake occurred, and if so — whether appealing that mistake may make a difference in the outcome of your case.
The Nine Most Common Issues Raised on Appeal
To appeal your case, you must have a more specific argument than “the jury was wrong.” You can disagree with the judge or jury’s decision all you want. If you cannot establish that a legal error took place during the case, then your appeal will likely be dismissed, or your conviction will simply be affirmed.
However, many legal mistakes can occur during litigation. Some of the most common errors raised on appeal include:
Incorrect Evidentiary Ruling
Whether or not evidence can be admitted in court is based on the California Evidence Code. At the very least, the evidence presented at trial must be relevant, not create undue prejudice, have a reliable foundation in fact, and not be hearsay. You may argue on appeal that certain evidence was admitted when it should have been excluded, or that certain evidence was deemed inadmissible when it should have been introduced to the court.
Motion to Suppress Evidence
A common issue at trial is seeking to suppress certain evidence, such as evidence that was unlawfully obtained by the police, and having the trial judge deny that motion. On appeal, you may argue the trial judge erred in not suppressing that evidence.
Motion to Suppress a Statement
During your initial criminal trial, your attorney may have fought to have certain statements you made suppressed and not introduced in court. If the trial judge denied that motion and allowed the statements, you can ask for this decision to be reviewed on appeal.
Lack of Sufficient Evidence
When you face criminal charges, the prosecutor must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. You may argue on appeal that the prosecution failed to sufficiently establish one or more elements of the crime.
As legal professionals, prosecutors are bound by both law and professional ethics. If you believe the prosecutor broke a rule or law to obtain your conviction, you can raise this issue on appeal.
When you work with a lawyer, you have the right to adequate representation. However, you may realize that your trial lawyer failed to properly investigate the charges against you, failed to put forth evidence that would have supported an acquittal, failed to suppress inadmissible evidence, and/or failed to develop an appropriate defense strategy.
Incorrect Jury Instructions
Once both the defense and prosecution rest, and before the jury can deliberate, the judge provides the jury with instructions regarding what to consider and how to determine if you are guilty or not guilty of the offense. You may argue that the judge did not provide the jury with the correct instructions, or that they failed to include relevant instructions.
Jurors are subject to strict rules throughout a trial. You may find out after your conviction that one or more jurors violated those rules, which may have affected the outcome of your case. An example of juror misconduct is speaking with other jurors, witnesses, lawyers, or the judge outside of the courtroom.
Excessive or Unlawful Sentence
You may argue the legal error occurred at the point of sentencing. You may argue that the sentence the judge handed down is excessive, based on the law or public policy. You may also argue that the sentence is outside of the law.
Contact Us to Discuss Criminal Appeals
If you believe a serious mistake was made during your criminal trial, do not hesitate to take action, as your rights and freedom could be on the line. Reach out to Spolin Law P.C. at (310) 424-5816, or contact us through our online form to schedule a free case consultation.