In a federal criminal trial, the government initiates the case alongside law enforcement agencies. The U.S. Attorney represents the government in criminal prosecutions and the grand jury analyzes the evidence. If a criminal case does not go your way, what can you do?
According to the United States Courts, the defendant can appeal a federal court’s decision.
How to appeal a verdict
In a criminal case, you and the government can only appeal guilty verdicts. If you are not guilty, then the government can never appeal that decision. However, if you have a guilty verdict, then either side can appeal the sentence. In appellate court, you do not present new evidence. There are no witnesses. The court, instead, reviews the procedures of the trial court.
To appeal a case, the United States Courts explains that one side must believe that the trial was unfair, that the judge applied the law incorrectly or the wrong law. Defendants may also appeal based on violations to the U.S. or state constitution.
How to appeal the appellate decision
The lawyers present their written arguments and then may have to argue the case in court. These arguments tend to only last about 15 minutes. However, after the arguments finish and if the court upholds the previous court’s judgment, what can you do? In most cases, the appellate court’s verdict is final. You can file a petition for a writ of certiorari. This is a document that asks the Supreme Court to make a decision. The Supreme Court only has to hear a case if it involves an important legal issue or if two or more federal courts interpreted the law differently.