Getting convicted of a criminal offense can ruin your personal, social and professional life. A criminal conviction can also mean loss of privileges like firearm ownership, driving and voting rights. For more serious felonies, a conviction can mean a long jail term and thousands in fines and legal fees.
If you have gone through a criminal trial and lost your case, you might want to appeal your conviction. However, regardless of the circumstances leading up to your conviction, the first question you are likely to grapple with is whether your trial lawyer should also handle your appeal or not.
Here are two reasons why you should never let your trial lawyer handle your appeal.
The appellate process is full of traps
The appeals process tends to be quite different from the trial proceeding. As such, it is not unusual for your trial attorney to lack an understanding of how the appeals process works. With so much on the line, the last thing you want is your appellate lawyer learning the rules on the fly. It is important that you engage an attorney who knows the rules of the game as well as the common pitfalls to avoid at each stage of the appeals process.
You may need a change in strategy
Your trial lawyer is likely to use the same approach during your appeal that they used during the trial. Thus, if your conviction had something to do with your lawyer’s mistake, they might subconsciously repeat the same during your appeal. During an appeal, you may need to consider the possibility that you relied on the ineffective assistance of counsel at your original trial — and that means your original attorney shouldn’t be involved.
Appealing a criminal conviction can be a daunting task. However, with effective representation, you can synthesize an otherwise complicated case into a handful of critical arguments to boost your chances of getting a favorable verdict.