Were you or a family member charged with and convicted of a criminal offense in California? It is normal to be stressed, frustrated, and confused. Do not be discouraged from pursuing all available legal options. In California, all criminal convictions can be appealed. To prevail on appeal, you must specify and prove valid grounds. Within this article, our California criminal appellate lawyers provide an overview of the most common grounds for appeal in California.
Understanding the Grounds for Appeal in a Criminal Case in California
As explained by the Superior Court of California, “an appeal is not a retrial.” An appeal is your opportunity to challenge a serious legal or procedural mistake that impacted the case. Appellate courts focus on process and law—they rely on trial courts to adjudicate the facts. To bring a successful criminal appeal in California, a person must raise and prove specific grounds. Here are the most common grounds for appeal for criminal cases in California:
- False Arrest: A police officer must have probable cause to arrest a person. If the arrest was false, any evidence obtained from that arrest may not be permissible in court. A criminal conviction in California can be appealed on the grounds of a trial court’s failure to account for a due process violation, such as an illegal arrest.
- Material Evidentiary Errors: Evidence is crucial in a criminal case. The evidence that is allowed into court matters. Likewise, the evidence that is excluded from the court also matters. If there was a material evidentiary error, a criminal conviction can be appealed on those grounds. Indeed, criminal appeals on the basis of evidentiary errors are among the most common.
- Misapplication of the Law: The law must be applied in the proper manner by trial courts. A trial court that misapplied the law has undermined the rights of the accused. An appellate has the authority to review and fix misapplications of law. If you believe that the law was misapplied, you can challenge the matter to a California appellate court.
- Ineffective Assistance of Counsel: The right to competent legal counsel from a licensed attorney is a key part of our criminal justice system. A convicted person in California can appeal a conviction on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. The Cornell Legal Information Institute explains that proving effective assistance of counsel requires demonstrating both that a trial lawyer’s professional representation fell below an “objective standard of reasonableness” and that the outcome would have likely been different with better representation.
- Prosecutorial Misconduct: While the U.S. criminal justice system is adversarial, the prosecution must comply with certain basic ethical and procedural standards. In California, a criminal conviction can be appealed on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.
- Jury Misconduct: Every person in California has a right to a fair trial before a jury of his or her peers. Misconduct by one or more members of the jury could be grounds for an appeal in a criminal case.
- Improper Sentencing: There are legal rules, regulations, and procedures in place regarding criminal sentencing. An error that led to a person facing an unjust and improper criminal sentence can be appealed.
You Must File a Notice of Appeal Before the Deadline Expires (30 Days or 60 Days)
In California, the process of initiating an appeal is done through a legal document called a Notice of Appeal. Simply put, a Notice of Appeal is a paper document that is filed with the superior court that rendered the verdict in the criminal case. It tells the court and the other side (prosecution) that you intend to appeal. You cannot decide to file a Notice of Appeal whenever you are ready to do so. There is a strict statutory deadline. The Judicial Branch of California explains that an appeal of a criminal conviction or criminal sentence in California must be filed by the following deadlines:
- 30 days (most misdemeanor criminal cases); and
- 60 days (most felony criminal cases).
Call Our California Criminal Appellate Lawyers for Immediate Help
At The Appellate Law Firm, our California criminal appeals attorneys are experienced and justice-driven advocates for our clients. If you have any questions about the grounds for criminal appeal, we are here to help. Contact us now for a completely confidential case review. Our firm provides criminal appellate law representation throughout California, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Fresno, Sacramento, and Bakersfield.