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 or staff members 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.