Using New Evidence on AppealPublished on November 24, 2019
Pursuing an appeal to overturn a criminal conviction in California can be based on various legal arguments. But, unfortunately, it usually can’t depend on the presentation of new evidence.
Appeals are not a “do-over.” Your legal counsel won’t be allowed to re-litigate the matter by bringing new witnesses or other new evidence. Instead, the Appeals Court will determine if any legal errors were made that would necessitate setting aside the conviction and sending it back to the trial court for reconsideration.
The experienced criminal appeals attorneys at Spolin Law, P.C. can pursue all your legal options at a state level and in federal court to protect your constitutional rights. To learn how to best appeal your case, contact our Los Angeles attorneys for a free consultation by calling (310) 424-5816 today.
Legal Arguments on Appeal
Although an appeal can’t be won on “new evidence,” what you can do is find legal arguments to make a valid appeal. The more arguments that indicate rules and procedures weren’t followed, or judge misinterpreted the law, the better chance the appeals court will find an error and send it back to the trial court.
Depending on how significant the errors are, the trial court could be required to conduct a new trial. At that point, additional new evidence and witnesses could be brought.
Some arguments on appeal that deal with evidentiary issues are:
- Failure to disclose exculpatory evidence — Criminal procedure rules and the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires prosecutors to disclose any exculpatory evidence (anything that could show the defendant is not guilty) to the defense before trial. In other words, this is evidence that might be “new” to the defense. Failure to turn over such evidence is a serious violation of your rights, and if this occurred, your case for overturning your conviction is strong.
- Improper exclusion of a witness — If the trial judge wrongly excludes a witness that your trial attorney wanted for your defense, you may have a right to go back to the trial court to get their testimony into the record.
- Actual Innocence — The appeals court won’t accept new evidence, but if you can show evidence in the court record of actual innocence was ignored, or the weight of the evidence was against conviction, you might have a successful appeal. Also, if new evidence of actual innocence is found after the time limit to appeal expires, you may be entitled to pursue a “writ of habeas corpus.”
Pursuing a Writ of Habeas Corpus
Depending on your circumstances, you may find pursuing a writ of habeas corpus necessary. Unlike the rules for appeals, the writ process usually allows for arguments on issues outside the court record. In other words, mistakes stemming from your arrest, pre-trial, and trial that are in the court record can be brought up on appeal. But the pursuit of a writ allows for evidence outside the record.
A writ of habeas corpus, which in Latin means “produce the body,” is used to challenge your incarceration. The writ requires the state to show lawful grounds for your detention. It often alleges a violation of constitutional or statutory rights.
New evidence can be presented in a writ action.
Let Us Help with Your Appeal
Our appellant law firm has a record of success finding errors that benefit our clients. While we can’t use new evidence on appeal, we can find and make all the legal arguments that could win you a chance at a new trial where such evidence can be presented. Our attorneys, led by firm founder and former prosecutor Aaron Spolin, have achieved positive outcomes on a wide variety of criminal and appellate cases.
What’s the Timeframe for Criminal Appeals in CaliforniaPublished on November 9, 2019
Under most state and federal laws, a criminal conviction isn’t necessarily the end of the road. You still have options, and if you believe you were wrongly convicted, a criminal appeal should be pursued. But it’s essential to understand the process, including how long an appeal can take.
To protect your legal rights and for the best possible outcome, you need an experienced appeals attorney. The Southern California criminal appeals law firm, Spolin Law, P.C., understands the process and how to effectively argue on your behalf.
Timeline for Appeals
The criminal justice system is not only controlled by laws, but also by rules and procedures. The rules of criminal procedure set forth how criminal trials are conducted, so they are fair and protect your rights.
If there is a conviction, there are also rules that apply to appeals. These rules establish deadlines by which certain actions must be taken.
For example, after a criminal conviction in the Superior Court of Orange County, you must file:
- Notice of Appeal within 30 days of the date of the judgment or order if a misdemeanor.
- Notice of Appeal — Felony (Defendant)” within 60 days of the date of the judgment or order if a felony.
There are some appeal options with longer deadlines, and a court might be willing to accept a late notice of appeal depending on extenuating circumstances.
Failure to file your notice of appeal by the appropriate deadlines could mean that no matter how strong your case is to overturn your conviction, you may not be allowed to proceed. That’s why it is vital to seek legal help from one of our appeals attorneys.
Such quick deadlines to file a notice of appeal might suggest the appeals process won’t take long. But that is likely not the case. Once a notice to appeal is filed, a lawyer can request more time from the court to thoroughly review your case so that we can make all the arguments we find to win your appeal.
After Filing Your Notice of Appeal
After we file your Notice of Appeal, we can file motions for bail or release. If you meet certain criteria, the law gives you the opportunity to be released with or without bail pending appeal of your conviction.
Winning your release pending appeal is important because appeals cases can take one to two years to resolve. By being free during that time, you may be able to resume working and caring for your personal matters while your legal issues are resolved.
While your appeal is ongoing, we will be working on the legal arguments that could result in a successful result. We do this by scouring the record, including the transcripts of your criminal trial. As part of the appeals process, the Superior Court must compile and turn over transcripts of the court reporter and clerk. All documents and exhibits from those proceedings also must be given to your appeals counsel.
After a review of the record where we will find your grounds for overturning your conviction, we will file an “Opening Brief” to explain to the court the reason for your appeal. This is a lengthy procedure, and it’s important you stay in contact at every step in the process.
The prosecution is then allowed to respond. After that, we may have an additional filing, called a “Reply Brief,” which must be filed within so many days of the prosecution’s response.
Once the briefing of your case is completed, we may have an oral argument before the court, and then the court will decide the case. If we aren’t satisfied with the resulting decision, there are additional options, and all of these have deadlines as well.
Don’t Delay if You Need Help with an Appeal
Appealing your criminal conviction is a complex matter that requires experienced attorneys. If you fail to meet certain deadlines, you may not have a chance to appeal and be stuck with the consequences of your conviction. Those consequences could include incarceration, fines, and a permeant criminal record.