Most criminal trials like DUI and traffic crimes, theft, shoplifting and drug possession are governed by state laws and handled at the state level. However, just as there are state laws, there are also federal laws that police national issues like crimes that are committed against the U.S. government.
Federal charges are typically much more serious than state-level charges. Thus, if you are indicted, charged and convicted of a federal crime you need to explore your appeal options. But when can you appeal a federal conviction?
Reasons for appealing federal convictions
District court prosecutors and judges are humans. As such, they, just like anyone else, can make mistakes. If you believe a mistake was made during your trial that impacted the outcome of your case, then you have a legal right to appeal your conviction. Here are specific grounds upon which you can appeal the district court’s decision:
- If the police, prosecution, judge or jury engage in practices that infringe on your right to due process under applicable federal laws
- If the court convicts you despite the existence of glaring errors its part
- If new evidence comes to light that might exonerate you from the crime in question
- If the sentence pronounced by the judge is unjustifiably harsh
- If you are incarcerated without legal justification
What to expect when appealing a federal conviction
A federal appeal will either affirm or reverse the district court’s decision. An affirmation means that the court of appeal believes the trial court did not make any mistakes, or, if at all it did, then such mistakes were not significant as to impact the outcome of your case. If your conviction is affirmed, then the matter will go back to the trial court for enforcement of the judgment.
If your conviction is reversed, however, then the appeals court may advise the trial court to initiate a new trial, dismiss your charges or re-sentence you.
Being charged with a federal crime can be frightening, to say the least. If you believe you have been wrongfully convicted of a federal crime, you need to exercise your right to appeal.