A criminal case can be a crapshoot. You may have a great attorney and it may seem the evidence exonerates you, but … yes, our criminal justice system is not perfect. After all, it is run by humans.
Humans have biases and prejudices, and with some people, those biases will never change regardless of witnesses or evidence. Wrongful convictions are not necessarily common, but they do happen. When it does happen, especially to us, we have the right to challenge the conviction – and even the sentence – on several grounds. There may be frivolous appeals, but there are appeals that usually will be heard if the case can be made for one of these grounds to have been present in the trial or the sentencing phase.
- Negligence of the Court.
This appeal reason is not from simple procedural errors in the courtroom, which can happen often. Negligence of the court involves some error that may have had a material impact on the results of the case, such as allowing or disallowing certain evidence or witnesses.
Charging misconduct in the courtroom can be risky because often it is hard to determine intent. Misconduct, in this case, can involve the police and how it handles evidence or interrogations; the prosecutor in terms of how it handles evidence; the jury, in whether it follows the judge’s instructions or the letter of the law; or the judge in its consistency of handling witnesses and evidence. Anything that may suggest an infringement of your constitutional right to due process may be appealed.
- Harsh Sentencing.
As a defendant, you have the constitutional right to be spared from “cruel and unusual punishment.” This can be apparent in cases where the sentence may be excessive according to the crime. Perhaps a “three strikes” statute that results in a 20-year sentence for shoplifting, or a judge who has a strong bias against child molesters sentences a first-time offender to life in prison. If there is a sentence that seems to not fit the crime, there can be an appeal filed for that sentencing to attempt to reduce or modify that sentence.
- New Exculpatory Evidence
While most appeals go to a higher court if there is new evidence introduced that could exonerate you may be introduced in a petition to the original court for an “appeal,” or a new trial. Appeals courts only consider evidence and documentation already considered in the original trial.
- Illegal Imprisoning.
The government is not allowed to detain or imprison people without reasonable or just cause. If any of the other grounds above may have put a person behind bars illegally, and an attorney may file a motion for appeal.
If you believe you have been wrongly convicted or sentenced due to misconduct or negligence, our criminal defense attorneys can help defend your freedom and rights to ensure you are not one of those behind bars without reason.