Losing a criminal case in Washington state can completely ruin your personal and professional life. A criminal conviction can mean jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, and for more serious felony offenses a conviction can mean lengthy prison terms, even more money lost in fines and court fees, and the loss of professional licenses, firearm privileges, voting rights, and more. Filing for a criminal appeal is one way to correct errors made by the court in your original conviction. The following are four tips that can help you win your criminal appeal in a Washington court, and a local criminal defense attorney can help you structure your appeal for your best chance at success.
Understand What can be Appealed in Your Case
Not every detail of your trial can be appealed to the appellate court. Appeals of a criminal conviction can only be filed for sentencing errors, errors of law, or for miscarriages of justice. This includes ineffective assistance of counsel, improper exclusion of evidence, incorrect jury instructions, juror or prosecutorial misconduct, and similar issues. In addition, these issues must rise to the level that, if the mistake had not been made, the trial court could have changed its verdict from guilty to innocent.
File the Proper Paperwork on Time
The next tip for maximizing your chances of winning your criminal appeal in Washington is making sure that you file the proper paperwork with the appellate court and do so in the window of time provided. The defendant in the case must file a Notice of Appeal with the appellate court that has jurisdiction over the case within 30 days of the original trial court judgment. Then, each side will file briefs before presenting an oral argument to the court. If a defendant fails to file a Notice of Appeal within the statute of limitations, the court can throw out the appeal before it is ever heard.
Collect All Relevant Transcripts and Evidence
In order to increase your chances of success, it is critical that you collect all relevant transcripts and evidence to present to the appellate court. Unlike the trial court level, the appeal is not a “do over” of the case. The appellate court looks over the court transcript of the trial for errors and heard arguments on the issues. The evidence can include the full transcript of the pretrial hearings, voir dire, and the trial in addition to the clerk’s papers on the case.
Hire a Qualified Attorney to Make Your Case
Finally, the best thing you can do to increase your chances of success in a criminal appeal is to hire an experienced criminal appeals attorney to handle your case. Make sure that you hire a lawyer with experience handling cases at the appellate level and understands the differences between the trial and appellate criminal courts.
Talk to a Lawyer Today
To learn more about your legal options after a DUI conviction in Washington, contact The Appellate Law Firm today.