A defendant who is convicted of a crime after a trial has a right to appeal the trial court’s decision and the sentence imposed. If you or someone you care about has recently been convicted of a crime and you are wondering whether to appeal, contact an attorney with appellate experience right away because a notice of appeal must be filed within a short time period after the trial court’s final order.
Unlike the trial, an appeal rarely involves arguments about the facts of the case (including whether the defendant is guilty). Instead, appeals are about questions of law – mostly, whether a mistake occurred at the trial level. Asking an attorney to file a notice of appeal does not necessary mean you will then have to follow through with the appeal, but if a notice of appeal is not timely filed the right to appeal will be lost.
Despite the short deadline on a notice to appeal, the appeal itself is a slow process. Most of the work for your attorney will be in researching and writing an appellate brief. The attorney will also make an oral argument at the appellate court.
There are many issues that can support a successful appeal. One notable example arises for defendants who had a court-appointed defense attorney who did not do his or her job sufficiently to protect the defendant’s interests. Appeals may also address important decisions made during the trial, such as the decision whether to admit or exclude particular evidence. For example, if a person was convicted of possession of a controlled substance and the controlled substance was admitted into evidence despite illegal actions by the police to obtain it, an appeal may result in over-turning the conviction. At that point, the appellate court might determine that the defendant cannot be re-tried because no jury could find him/her guilty in the absence of the evidence, or the appellate court might allow a new trial. Another reason that a defendant may wish to appeal is that the sentence imposed might be harsher than it should have been under the law. In that case, an appeal may result in shortening the time a defendant spends in prison and/or reducing the fine paid by the defendant.
Appeals are often complex and involve technical legal issues that may not be apparent to people without a background in the law. Therefore, if you think it might make sense to appeal a conviction, you should contact an attorney with appellate experience right away.
Brett Hall has practiced law in Portland for over a decade, handling a number of criminal appeals during that time. Brett has a strong working knowledge of the law and will be able to evaluate possible issues for an appeal in your case. If he represents you on an appeal, Brett will put in the time and energy required to develop a strong and persuasive brief on your behalf. Brett’s extensive trial experience not only give him an eye for spotting appealable issues, but also help to make him very persuasive in oral arguments before an appellate court.