Who has the right to appeal?
A person convicted at a trial has the right to appeal the conviction at least once. Any individual who has been convicted of a crime may "appeal" his or her case, asking a higher court to review certain aspects of the case for legal error, pertaining to either the conviction itself or the sentence imposed within the allowed time frame after the conviction. Appeal is not a right under the federal Constitution, but all jurisdictions permit all those who are convicted to make one appeal. Also, the federal Constitution has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to guarantee counsel for all indigent persons for that appeal. On appeal, the defendant can raise claims that mistakes were made in applying and interpreting the law during the trial. Some examples are: That the judge erroneously admitted hearsay testimony, gave improper jury instructions, should not have permitted the prosecution to use evidence obtained in violation of the defendant's constitutional rights, or permitted the prosecution to make improper closing arguments.
There are very few grounds for appeal if the defendant pleaded guilty. If the appellate court agrees that there were significant errors in the trial, the defendant will get a new trial.
Only the defendant in a criminal trial may appeal. The prosecutor may not appeal when a defendant is found "not guilty" at trial. Also, the prosecutor may not put the same defendant on trial for the same charge using the same evidence. This is known as "double jeopardy” and is prohibited under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. However, prior to or during a criminal trial, a prosecutor may be able to appeal certain rulings, such as when a judge has ordered that some evidence be "suppressed."
There is one ground of reversal that leads to the defendant being freed and bars retrial; that occurs if the appellate court finds that at the trial, the government failed to prove all of the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, the losing party (plaintiff or defendant) in a civil trial has the opportunity to challenge a lower court’s decision.
If you believe that a trial court has made a ruling that is against the weight of the evidence or has misinterpreted the law and made an error in this respect, please call Danziger & Mangold for a confidential consultation. We will evaluate your case and advise you on your appeal.