Number of Criminal Appeals

The final judgment of a lower court, usually the trial court, can be appealed to the next higher court one time only. Thus, the total number of appeals depends on how many courts are “superior” to the court that made the contested decision, and sometimes what the next higher court decides the appeal’s basis. Remember, the first appeal is known as an “appeal as of right,” and you are entitled to the assistance of an attorney.

In states with large populations, it is common to find three or even four levels of courts, while in less populous states there may be only two. There are important differences in the rules, time limits, costs, and procedures depending on whether the case is in Federal court or state court. Also, each state has different rules. Finally, even within a single state one may find that different rules for appeals depend on the court in which the case originated.

Keep in mind, the appeals process is state-specific and you would be wise to consult an attorney to learn more about filing procedures and more.

The filing process involves two important actions: filing the “notice of appeal” and then finally the actual appellate brief with the court. First, let’s talk about filing a notice of appeal. The notice of appeal is simply that — a notice to the court that you are appealing your case. Your attorney sends the it to the court that entered the judgment against you. The notice of appeal is a short document, usually not more than a page or two long.

An appellate court cannot adjudicate a case if the notice is not properly filed in a timely manner. The notice must be filed within a definite time, usually 30 days in civil appeals and 10 days in criminal appeals. The period within which to file usually starts on the date a final judgment in the lower court is filed.

The next big step in the appeals process is to actually file your appellate brief with the court. The appellate brief will usually be a lengthy document written by your attorney. It will state all the reasons why the lower court’s ruling was wrong, and also cite to the trial transcript as evidence of the error.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

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Classification of Crimes

Most criminal systems for states across the United States divide their crimes into several different categories depending on how serious they are. This categorization determines how the court system treats a particular case, so it is important to understand the differences. As a general rule, however, these crimes are differentiated by how much potential jail time (if any) an offender could face.

Infractions: In general, these are the least serious type of crime. Typically, a police officer will see someone doing something wrong, write a ticket and hand it to the person. The person then has to pay a fine. Infractions usually involve little to no time in court (much less jail), and include things like traffic tickets, jaywalking, and some minor drug possession charges in some states. However, if infractions remain unaddressed or unpaid, the law typically provides for an increasing range of fines and potential penalties.

Misdemeanors: Misdemeanors are more serious than infractions. They are usually defined as a crime which is punishable by up to a year in jail time. Sometimes that jail time is served in a local county jail instead of a high security prison. Other states define a misdemeanor as a crime that is not a felony or an infraction. Prosecutors generally have a great degree of flexibility in deciding what crimes to charge, how to punish them, and what kinds of plea bargains to negotiate.

Felonies: Felonies are the most serious types of crimes. They are usually defined by the fact that they are punishable by prison sentences of greater than one year. Since the punishments can be so severe, court room procedure must be strictly observed so that the defendants’ rights stay protected. Felonies are usually crimes that are viewed severely by society, and include crimes such as murder, rape, burglary, kidnapping, or arson. However, felonies can also be punished in a range of ways so that the punishment matches the severity of the crime.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

Ways To Reverse a Conviction

Appeals judges generally defer to trial court findings, particularly findings of fact as opposed to matters of law. Courts rarely overturn lower court decisions and “perfect” trials are not guaranteed, although certain safeguards do exist in order to account for errors and oversights. An appellate court will overturn a guilty verdict only if the trial court erred in a way that significantly contributed to the outcome. While most errors are deemed “harmless,” there are, of course, some types of errors that are so serious that they are presumed harmful, such as the use of a coerced confession. Appellate courts rarely interfere with sentences handed down by the lower courts. But in some cases where the law specifies a particular sentence, the appellate court may send the case back for resentencing if the court gets it wrong.

If you have been convicted of a crime and believe the guilty verdict (or even plea) was in error, you will want to pursue the reversal of that conviction. Reversing a conviction generally happens through appeals (most commonly) or writs. This article covers the basics of reversing a conviction, but keep in mind that each case is different and laws vary by jurisdiction.

It is theoretically possible for two completely reasonable juries rule differently on the agreed-upon facts of a case, and thus give different verdicts. And unless something goes wrong at the trial level, you can’t appeal a case simply because you believe the jury reached the wrong verdict. But, having said that, convicted criminals do have the right to challenge the verdict (or appellate court’s ruling) of a case if mistakes were made regarding the facts or matters of law, or if there were issues not readily apparent in the case record itself. These legal remedies are called appeals and writs, respectively.

If you and/or your attorney have discovered errors in the way your case was handled, and believe it materially affected your conviction or sentence, you may file an appeal. But the appeal must pinpoint a specific aspect (or aspects) of the case and make a convincing argument that there may have been serious mistakes. For example, let’s say the police exceeded the specified scope of a search warrant, leading to your arrest and eventual conviction. In such a case, you would appeal on the grounds that the evidence was obtained illegally and must be excluded from trial.

But even a successful appeal won’t always reverse your conviction. Using the example above, prosecutors may still be able to reach a guilty verdict without the illegally obtained evidence. So it’s important to understand that criminal appeals must focus on specifics of the case and not necessarily the outcome.

If all of your opportunities for an appeal have been exhausted or never available to begin with, but you still believe your trial was clouded by some kind of an injustice or mistake, you may look into filing a writ. A writ is an order from a higher court directing a lower court to take some kind of action, typically filed in extraordinary situations where an appeal isn’t an option. So while the trial court may not have erred, per se, a writ may be filed if the verdict was materially based on some other injustice or error beyond its immediate control.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

Court Appointed Lawyers

If you’re facing criminal charges and are unable to afford a private defense attorney, you may qualify for a court-appointed lawyer. After all, one of the foundations of our legal system is that every criminal defendant has the right to legal representation. This is best understood by listening to the Miranda warning that police must provide to every person upon an arrest:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed.

It might seem crazy how much a private criminal defense attorney can charge, with hourly rates sometimes as high as $300-$600 and retainer fees which can cost thousands. If you’re unable to afford a private criminal defense attorney, you may be able to obtain a court-appointed lawyer to represent you. Generally, the lawyer will work at the government’s expense. In order to obtain a court-appointed lawyer in your case, you’re generally required to:1) ask the court for a court-appointed lawyer; and 2) provide details about your financial situation to show that you can’t afford a private defense attorney.

The first time you’re able to request a court-appointed lawyer will be the first time you go in front of a judge after your arrest, known as your arraignment. You either arrive to the arraignment on your own (if you were able to post bail), or escorted by the sheriff’s department of your county if you weren’t able to post bail.

When the judge calls your case for the arraignment, the first question will be whether or not you’re represented by an attorney and, if not, whether you want one appointed to your case. If so, the judge could simply appoint an attorney already present in court to assist with the remainder of your arraignment. However, this lawyer normally will not be the same lawyer appointed to you for the duration of your case, which can happen after your arraignment. Some courts will postpone the arraignment itself until an attorney is appointed for the duration of your case and others could delay all hearings until your financial situation can be investigated to determine whether you qualify for a court-appointed lawyer.

Each state, and sometimes each county, has rules for determining how to qualify for court-appointed counsel. These rules often have some flexibility to account for the seriousness of the alleged crime or the probable length of the trial. So, even if you make a decent wage and could hire a private attorney to work on a short case, a judge may determine that you qualify for a court-appointed lawyer if the charges against you are more serious or if it appears that your trial may take some time.

Lastly, if you earn income, but it’s not high enough to hire a private attorney and not low enough to qualify you for a court-appointed lawyer, the judge may provide you with “partial indigency.” Under this procedure, you’re represented by court-appointed counsel, but you’re also required to reimburse the state for a portion of your costs of representation.

When answering this question, remember that in most situations, any legal representation in a criminal case is better than none. However, this is not to say that a court-appointed lawyer is little better than nothing. In fact, many public defenders and court-appointed lawyers are some of the best legal minds in the world. Public defenders often have more courtroom time and experience than many private defense lawyers twice their age. Indeed, public defenders have been on the defense side of many of the most prestigious cases in our country’s history.

However, the time and effort that court-appointed lawyers can spend on their cases has declined in recent years with reduced government funding and higher caseloads. Indeed, in some places it has become so bad that public defenders only meet their clients for the first time in the court’s anteroom before trial starts.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.