The jury comes shuffling back in while you sit anxiously next to your defense attorney. You glance furtively at the faces of the jurors hoping to catch a smile, nod, wink, or any sort of gesture that might indicate their decision is in your favor. Then the foreman reads the verdict and you have to stop to ask yourself if you just heard that right. Guilty. You have been convicted of a crime. You have been found guilty.
A guilty verdict turns your whole world upside down. You may be facing jail time or strenuous probation. Your job might be at stake. But most importantly, you feel that justice has not been served. You feel wronged by the decision of the jury and possibly by decisions made by the court. You might even feel wronged by the actions or inactions of your defense attorney.
Although you are experiencing a range of intense emotions following your conviction, you need to know that your guilty verdict is not the end of the road. An individual convicted of a crime has the right to appeal that decision to a higher court. Further, if you feel you have been wrongly sentenced by a lower court, you have a right to appeal that sentencing decision to a higher court.
There is hope to change the outcome of your trial or even of your guilty plea. However, you will need the skill and experience of a knowledgeable criminal appeals attorney to get you there. Criminal appeals are complex, requiring strict adherence to the rules of the court and a great depth of knowledge of current case law. An appeal is not something you can handle on your own, and not something even your average criminal defense attorney is capable of. You need the assistance of a criminal appeal professional.
The following is a list of frequently asked questions about the criminal appeals process:
1. What is an appeal?
An appeal is a request to a higher court to review the decision or sentence of a lower court. An appeal is initiated by the filing of a notice of appeal. You have only 30 days to appeal your conviction or sentence, so time is of the essence if you intend to file an appeal.
2. What happens after the filing of the notice of appeal?
After the filing of the notice of appeal, your attorney will file a brief that sets out all of the errors that you believe were made in the lower court. The brief will supported by facts and extensive research. The Massachusetts Appeals Court, or in first degree murder convictions the Supreme Judicial Court, will review your brief and the prosecution’s reply brief, along with the trial transcript and other transcripts relevant to your claims. You can request oral arguments, and the court frequently allows them. The necessity of an experienced criminal appeals attorney throughout this intensive appeals process cannot be stressed enough.
3. What are some common grounds for an appeal?
Common issues raised on appeal are as follows:
- Legal errors, such as errors in denying pre-trial motions such as motions to suppress evidence or confessions
- Legal errors such as errors in denying objections made both before and during trial, such as objections to the prosecutor’s opening statement or witness’s use of hearsay
- Ineffectiveness assistance of counsel
- Unconstitutionally harsh sentence or a sentence that is not in conformity with that agreed upon during plea bargaining
- Jury misconduct
- Incorrect jury instructions
- Insufficient evidence to support your conviction
4. What if my conviction as already been affirmed, is there anything else I can do?
If your appeal was not successful, not all hope is lost. There are numerous steps you can take post-conviction to reverse your conviction and obtain a new trial. For instance, if new evidence has been found in your case, you can file a motion for new trial. The lower court will have a hearing to allow you to introduce the new evidence and will determine whether you are entitled to a new trial based on it. If your motion for new trial is denied, you can request the appellate court review the lower court’s decision. If you feel your sentence was in error, even if you pled guilty, you can file a motion to revise or revoke your sentence in the lower court, setting forth your reasons in support of this motion.
These are just some of the actions that can be taken post-conviction to obtain you a new trial or a new sentence. A knowledgeable criminal appeals attorney can review the facts of your case and advise you fully on your potential actions.
5. Should I use the same attorney on appeal?
This depends on many factors. First and foremost, were you happy with your attorney on appeal? If not, and if you might actually raise a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, then you should certainly not retain the same attorney to represent you on appeal. Even if you were satisfied with your defense counsel, you should not automatically retain the same counsel. Criminal appeals is a specialized area of the law. You need to research whether your defense counsel has experience in criminal appeals. You should also consider the value of having a fresh set of eyes review your case. A new attorney might notice clear errors that your attorney, who lived through the events, had simply overlooked.Effective Appellate Representation with a Proven Track Record
At The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, we have extensive experience handling criminal appeals and appeals post conviction. Our team of knowledgeable attorneys reviews new case holdings on a daily basis and is abreast of the most recent legal decisions that might affect your appeal. You may not have received just treatment by the legal system thus far, but we will fight tirelessly to see that you receive it on appeal or post conviction.
Stephen Neyman has a proven track record of securing new trials for his clients and reversal of their convictions. He has assisted to individuals formerly convicted of murder in having their cases reversed and receiving new trials.
Call The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman today at (617) 263-6800 to speak to one of our experienced Massachusetts criminal appeals attorneys.
Si usted habla español contacta a nuestro asistente de abogado Maria Rivera en 617-877-6270.
Attorney Neyman succeeds in getting sentence vacated and freeing Boston man from jail
Dorchester District Court # 08-7968. On April 9, 2009, after a two day jury trial a Boston man was convicted of receiving stolen property and assorted motor vehicle crimes. He was sentenced to jail. Attorney Neyman was hired one week later to get the man out of jail. Our office immediately filed a motion for a new trial. We interviewed witnesses who were not called to testify at trial and gathered evidence that had not been submitted in the defendant’s behalf. After an evidentiary hearing this morning in Dorchester the trial judge agreed to revise and revoke the defendant’s sentence and he was immediately released from jail.