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What are grounds for appealing a criminal conviction?

On Behalf of | Sep 17, 2023 | Criminal Defense, Criminal Defense |

According to The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the state has two appellate courts underneath it. A Supreme Court always acts as the highest appeals court within any system.

If a person wishes to appeal his or her criminal case, it will go to one of the two intermediate appellate courts. If that does not go well, the person can then take the case to the state supreme court. However, appealing a criminal conviction requires having the proper reason behind the request for another court to look at the case.

Legal errors during trial

A person can appeal a criminal conviction if there were significant legal errors during the trial that may have impacted the verdict. These errors could include issues with evidence, jury instructions or the conduct of the trial itself. Appeals courts review these errors to determine if they warrant a new trial or a modified sentence.

New evidence

If new and significant evidence comes to light after the trial that could potentially change the outcome, a person may be able to appeal the conviction. The defense must not have known about this or had it available to them during the original trial, and it must have the potential to impact the verdict significantly.

Ineffective assistance of counsel

When a court deems a person’s legal representation during the trial ineffective, it can provide grounds for appeal. This means the defense attorney’s performance was so deficient that it prejudiced the defendant’s case.

Prosecutorial misconduct

If the prosecutor engaged in misconduct during the trial, such as withholding exculpatory evidence, making improper statements or using other unethical tactics, it can be a basis for an appeal. The misconduct must be substantial and directly related to the conviction.

Sentencing errors

If the sentencing judge made an error in determining the length or type of punishment, it could allow a challenge on appeal. However, the error must be significant enough to affect the outcome.

Constitutional violations

An appeal is possible if the conviction resulted from a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, such as an unlawful search and seizure or a violation of the right to remain silent.

Jury misconduct

If the jury’s conduct or behavior during deliberations was prejudicial or improper, it can provide grounds for an appeal. Juror misconduct includes factors like discussing the case with outside individuals or using external information during deliberations.

A person can appeal a criminal conviction under various circumstances, but they must be those allowable under state law. The appeals process is complex, but it could help clear a person’s name or right wrongs made in the initial trial.