If someone is convicted in the state of Texas, they reserve the right to challenge their unfavorable conviction by filing an appeal. In doing so, they request that the decision made by the lower court be reviewed by a higher court for any errors. If the appeal is granted, the conviction may be overturned or the case may be remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings.
However, it is important to note that not all cases can be appealed. Filing an appeal does not give the petitioner the chance to simply retry their case or present new evidence. Rather, the Texas Court of Appeals was established to examine whether a legal mistake was made during the defendant’s original court proceedings that may have impacted the outcome of the trial.
When determining if such an error was made, the appellate court reviews the court reporter’s transcript (which entails a record of all oral proceedings), the clerk’s transcript (a collection of the trial’s exhibits, motions, documents), as well as the arguments presented by the appellate attorney.
What are the grounds for appeal in Texas?
In Texas, some of the most common and effective grounds for appeal include:
1) False arrest
When arguing “false arrest,” the defendant must prove that their arrest was unlawful and that the arresting officer did not have the authority to detain them. To do so, the defendant may point to a lack of probable cause or the absence of a Texas arrest warrant at the time of their detainment. Additionally, if their arrest was prompted by a search that violated Texas search and seizure laws, the defendant could appeal their conviction under the “false arrest” statute.
2) Improper admission or exclusion of evidence
Before a trial begins, the presiding judge holds a meeting with the attorneys to review the evidentiary exhibits and decide which pieces are going to be allowed to be used in court and which ones are to be excluded.
It is during this process that the judge can mistakenly admit a piece of evidence that should have been excluded or, in contrast, reject a piece of evidence that should be allowed to be presented in court. The improper admission or exclusion of evidence is likely to have a great impact on the verdict of the trial and hence is an advantageous ground on which to appeal a Texas criminal conviction.
3) Ineffective assistance of counsel
In some cases, the defendant’s legal counsel may be the one at fault. When one appeals on the grounds of “ineffective assistance of counsel,” they must prove that their attorney’s poor performance negatively impacted the outcome of their case, depriving them of their 6th amendment right to a fair trial.
4) Jury misconduct
In a jury trial, it is important that the jurors remain impartial and honorable. If, however, the jurors participate in any sort of illegal behavior that impacts the outcome of a case and compromises the defendant’s right to fair trial, “jury misconduct” is another strong argument on which to build an appellate defense. Some examples of jury misconduct include, a refusal to deliberate, performing outside research on the facts of the case, or the purposeful release of information that could threaten the impartiality of the jury.