If your criminal case ends in a conviction, the court will often inform you about your right to an appeal. If you choose to appeal your conviction, your case will be referred to a higher court (known as an appellate court) where you will point out errors that impacted the outcome of your case.
Based on the circumstances of your case, you may petition the appellate court to order a retrial or a resentencing. In other words, an appeal is not a new trial. Rather, it is a petition to have the appellate court review what happened during your trial.
How the appeal process works
The appeal process begins with the convict (known as the appellant) filing the appeal motion to the appellate court. While submitting your motion, you will be providing a brief regarding how and why you believe your conviction and/or sentencing was wrong.
So on what grounds can you appeal a conviction?
You cannot appeal a conviction just because you were unhappy with the verdict. You must have credible reasons (or grounds) to back up your assertion that your sentencing should be reviewed. And these grounds must be based on substantial and material legal errors that impacted the outcome of your case. Here are two common grounds for appealing a criminal appeal:
Procedural mistakes – your criminal case can be hurt by the prosecution, the judge or incorrect interpretation of the law. For instance, you can appeal your conviction if the prosecution or the court officers did not follow certain rules.
Jury or court prosecution misconduct – dishonest actions, jurors carrying out their own investigations or deceptive practices – all these are misconducts that can form the basis for appealing your conviction.
If you have been convicted and believe an error occurred that impacted your case, you need to explore your defense options.