A criminal appeal is a request to a higher court to examine the ruling of a lower court. Criminal appeals are most commonly sought after in order to demonstrate some error or flaw that led to an individual’s conviction that, if corrected, should set that individual free.
A criminal appeal seeks to overturn the results of a lower court’s decision. Usually this is to address some procedural error in a lower court’s decision whether that is a misinterpretation of the law or an error in judicial discretion.
A right to an appeal is not often guaranteed and must be granted by an appellate court. Usually only in death penalty cases are individuals automatically granted an appeal. All criminal defendants convicted by a judge or jury at a trial have a right to appeal the conviction. Prosecutors can never appeal a decision because of the constitutional protection from double jeopardy.
Once an appeal has been granted, the individual must state a grounds for the appeal. Grounds for an appeal include claiming legal error, ineffectiveness of counsel, or juror misconduct. At least one of these claims must be proven before the results of a case can have its sentence reduced or dismissed.
There are some individuals who may work for nonprofits, and the first criminal appeal can come with a public defender. However, for the best possible results, it is recommended that a private criminal defense attorney be retained to fully concentrate solely on the individual case.