"To open blind eyes, to bring prisoners out of a dungeon, those who sit in darkness out of a prison."
- Isaiah 42

Grounds for criminal appeals

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2023 | Federal Criminal Appeals

According to the U.S. Courts, the number of appeals filed in the United States decreased by 7% in 2022. However, there are still many people who are seeking to appeal their convictions.

An appeal is a legal process that allows the convicted individual to challenge their conviction, but state law dictates what grounds a person can use to make this move.

Legal errors

Appeals often hinge on the argument that legal errors occurred during the trial. These errors can include mistakes made by the judge, prosecutor or defense attorney that may have affected the outcome of the trial.

Ineffective assistance of counsel

One of the most common grounds for appeal is the claim that the defense attorney provided ineffective assistance. This can include failing to call crucial witnesses, not presenting important evidence or providing inadequate representation.

Insufficient evidence

An appeal may occur if there is a strong argument that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the verdict. In other words, there was not enough proof to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutorial misconduct

If the prosecutor engaged in misconduct during the trial, such as making improper statements to the jury or withholding exculpatory evidence, this can be a solid ground for appeal.

Constitutional violations

Claims that there was some violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights during the trial can be the basis for an appeal.

Jury misconduct

If the jury engaged in misconduct, such as conducting independent research or discussing the case outside the courtroom, this can provide a basis for appeal.

Newly discovered evidence

The discovery of new evidence that was not available during the original trial can be a strong ground for an appeal. This evidence must be both material to the case and likely to change the outcome.

Change in law

Sometimes, changes in the law can retroactively impact a conviction. If a new law passes that affects a defendant’s case, it can be a ground for appeal.

Appealing a criminal conviction is a complex legal process that requires a thorough understanding of the law. While these grounds for appeal exist, the success of an appeal can depend on the specific circumstances of the case.