The verdicts passed down in criminal cases are often other than the defendants in question were hoping for. Facing a difficult verdict is never easy, but when that verdict seems excessively harsh or blatantly unfair, it that much harder to accept. If you are facing such a verdict, an appeal may be in your best interests. While filing a notice of appeal after being handed a guilty verdict is fairly standard practice, it is important to note that the majority of appeals are not successful. There are, however, certain factors that make appeals claims more compelling to appellate justices.
Notice of Appeal and the Appellate Court
Appellate courts in Texas are faced with the important task of trying to keep our judicial system fair and balanced. These courts are required to carefully assess each notice of appeal filed, and they focus on those appeals that they deem to have legitimate intent, which means that a legal basis has been established. The appellate court expects your notice of appeal to establish that a legal error occurred either before or during your trial that probably adversely affected your verdict and/or sentencing. The appellate process is carefully prescribed, and there are numerous deadlines and regulations to which you must adhere.
Every appeal is utterly unique to the circumstances of the case, and your chances of winning an appeal will hinge upon the details of yours. There are, nevertheless, certain factors – many of which are procedural in nature – that are more likely to positively establish that your case has the legal grounds to win an appeal. Often a notice of appeal will be stopped in its tracks because it fails to provide the appellate justices with a compelling reason to give further consideration to the request. In other words, many such notices are attempts to stall for time and simply do not contain the legal merit necessary to move forward.
The Elements of a Solid Appeal
When your dedicated criminal attorney begins building your appeal, he or she will move through several important steps, including:
- Thoroughly reviewing the judicial process in your case, including whether any incorrect, illegal, or questionable rulings were made
- Thoroughly reviewing the jury's involvement, including jury selection, potential jury misconduct, and jury instructions
- Thoroughly reviewing your original attorney’s conduct throughout the legal process – for example, did he or she avail himself or herself of every available opportunity to protect your rights (including objecting to inappropriate testimony and/or evidence)
- Thoroughly reviewing all of your case’s filed documents and docketing entries
- Building a strong oral argument in defense of your filing