When a defendant receives a sentence due to a faulty court proceeding, the court may accept an application for an appeal. The defendant must show the trial was unfair.
A court may allow an appeal to move forward post-conviction if certain factors existed during the trial. Showing one or more of these three elements occurred is the first step in the appeal process.
1. Ineffective defense counsel
The defense counsel’s job is to refute the facts and evidence of the state’s assertions. A defense lawyer must present the best possible case for his or her client. In some instances, facts come to light after the conviction that prove this did not occur. Perhaps counsel did not present a plea deal to the client or failed to enter evidence that may have showed the defendant’s side of things.
2. Prosecutorial misconduct
The prosecutor represents the state and is responsible for getting a court to convict the defendant. Some cases may prompt a prosecutor to make missteps in the quest to lock up a defendant. While mistakes happen, misconduct goes beyond a simple clerical error or misstep. The most common examples of prosecutorial misconduct are:
- Coaching witnesses to lie
- Keeping evidence from the defense
- Submitting inadmissible evidence
- Intimidating witnesses or jurors
3. Brady violations during discovery
The prosecution must submit all evidence to the defense, even something that may prove damaging to its case. When any member of the prosecution, including law enforcement, withholds evidence that benefits the defense’s case, it is a Brady violation.
Appeals do not move forward without proof of an error in the original court proceeding. Producing this evidence is the first step to getting a case back in front of a judge for reconsideration.