Criminal Appeals in Atlanta, GA
If you were wrongly convicted or sentenced unfairly, you have options. Defendants have the right to appeal a conviction and/or sentence. An appeal is not an immediate retrial but rather is a review of trial records to determine whether proceedings were conducted fairly and in accordance with the law. Appellate court judges look for errors that were significant enough to have affected the outcome of the trial in some way. If such errors are found, the appellate court may call for a retrial of the case or may reverse the decision of the trial court.
Criminal appeals are an important part of our Atlanta criminal defense practice. A criminal conviction, although certainly a serious matter, does not signify the end of the road for a defendant. There is hope in the form of an appeal, which can be filed at either a state or federal court level, depending on the level of the court in which the defendant was convicted. As an Atlanta criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, founding Attorney Howard J. Weintraub is uniquely qualified to represent clients who wish to appeal their convictions. Mr. Weintraub has led our firm in representing defendants in state and federal courts since 1985 and is committed to seeking the best possible result in every case.
How does an appeal work?
In filing an appeal, a defendant (now called an appellant) has the chance to argue that the case should be dismissed or retried, based on key legal mistakes. The appellant submits a written "brief" to the appellate court, along with a copy of the transcript from the trial and any exhibits that were used during the trial. The prosecution will also have the opportunity to submit a brief.
The appellate court may hear oral arguments from both parties, depending on the case, but these are usually quite brief and focus on technical, legal matters applicable to the appeal.
The next step is for appellate court judges to review the trial record. In this review, they will look for errors that were significant enough to affect the outcome of the case. They may disregard minor errors that had no impact on the verdict.
After reviewing the trial record, the appellate court may decide that the verdict and sentence should remain as-is. In this case, the appellant may have the opportunity to file an appeal with another, higher court.
If the appellate court decides that fundamental and harmful errors were made in the trial, the court may decide that the case should be retried. The appellate court may also decide to overturn the verdict or alter the sentence. It is also possible that the prosecution may decide to dismiss the case after a defendant successfully appeals a conviction. For example, the appellate court may decide that key evidence, upon which the primary part of the prosecution's case was based, should not be admissible in court. This may destroy the prosecution's case and the prosecuting attorney may see it in the government's best interests to drop charges rather than face a retrial that would likely be won by the defendant.
Talk to an Atlanta Criminal Appeal Lawyer
Every case is different and the manner in which you can file an appeal may vary. One thing is certain, however: you must act quickly. You have a limited time to file an appeal after a criminal conviction. If you wait too long, you may lose your right to appeal your conviction. If you would like to discuss this matter in more detail, please contact an Atlanta criminal attorney at our firm. We can advise you of our rights and options as they apply to your unique case.