A criminal conviction can change your life in many ways. Depending on the crime you have been accused of, you may face a jail term or a hefty fine. In addition, a conviction can also strip you of certain rights, like the right to vote or own a firearm.
However, a conviction does not have to mark the end of your quest for justice, especially if you have reason to believe the court made mistakes during your trial and/or sentencing. You have the right to challenge a federal conviction through an appeal. However, it is important that you understand how the federal appeal process works when filing your appeal.
Here are three grounds upon which you can appeal your conviction.
When the prosecution makes an error of law
Basically, this occurs when the court applies the wrong rule or “legal standard” to the facts of your case. For instance, a potential error of law might involve a rape trial where guilt is premised upon the plaintiff’s age rather than whether the sexual conduct was consensual or not.
When the judge overlooks the facts of your case during the ruling
A judge’s ruling must be strictly based on the existing law and the facts that were laid down during the trial. However, there are times when the judge can pronounce a ruling that appears totally out of line with what transpired during the trial. You can consider appealing your conviction if you can prove that there was no “sound and substantial basis” for supporting the judge’s ruling.
When the judge abuses their power
A judge has the power to decide a number of things before as well as during the trial. Most decisions come up during the trial, like the kind of evidence to admit or the kind of motions and requests to be made. If the judge does something that is clearly beyond their power; and one that influenced the outcome of your case, this can be ground for appeal.
A criminal conviction can have a lasting impact on your life, career and family. If you believe the sentence was issued in error, you should consider filing an appeal as soon as possible so you can get a fair re-trial.