Facing criminal charges is stressful and overwhelming. A court’s verdict is not necessarily the end of the case. A defendant has the right to appeal an unfavorable decision. However, the prosecutor generally cannot file an appeal. Though, there are some limited state-by-state exceptions.
In this article, our criminal appeals attorneys provide a more comprehensive overview of the most important things to know about who can file an appeal in a criminal case.
Only the Defendant Has the Right to Appeal (With Exceptions)
In civil cases, both plaintiffs and defendants have the right to appeal. However, that is not true with criminal charges. A defendant can appeal a guilty verdict. A prosecutor typically cannot appeal a not guilty verdict. Here are four things to know about appeal rights in a criminal case:
- Defendants Can Appeal a Criminal Conviction: First and foremost, it is important to emphasize that defendants can appeal a criminal conviction. If you believe that the court made a material error—improper admission of evidence, flawed jury instructions, misapplication of law, etc—you have the right to appeal the verdict.
- Prosecutors Lack a General Right to Appeal: In contrast, the state does not have a general right to appeal a not guilty verdict.The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution contains a ‘Double Jeopardy’ clause. This clause prohibits anyone from being prosecuted for the same crime twice. A not guilty verdict (an acquittal) provides double jeopardy protections.
- Prosecutors May Have Some Limited Appeal Rights: In certain states, prosecutors have some limited appeal rights. Typically, these appeal rights are restricted to rulings on pre-trial motions. For example, imagine that your criminal defense lawyer submitted a motion to exclude certain evidence. If the court grants that motion, the prosecution may be able to appeal that decision.
- A Retrial is Possible in Certain Circumstances: Double Jeopardy protections apply to a defendant who has been acquitted. However, a retrial is possible if there is no not guilty verdict. For example, a defendant who wins on appeal after being found not guilty may get a retrial.
Appealing a Criminal Conviction? You Must Act Quickly and Select Specific Grounds
Are you preparing to appeal a criminal conviction? If so, it is imperative that you take immediate action to protect your rights. There are strict deadlines to appeal. Depending on your state and your charge(s), you may have as little as 30 days to initiate the appeals process. Further, you must select specific legal grounds on which to appeal the verdict. An experienced criminal appeals lawyer can help you gather, organize, and submit all of the paperwork you need to bring a compelling appeal.
Contact Our Criminal Appellate Lawyer for Help With Your Appeal
At The Appellate Law Firm, our criminal appeals lawyers are skilled, experienced advocates for our clients. If you have any questions about initiating a criminal appeal, we are ready to help. Contact us today for a fully confidential consultation. We have offices throughout the country, including in Washington, California, Oregon, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Georgia.