Criminal Justice System
We all do our best to ensure that the criminal justice system in Oklahoma is both fair and just. We trust that it works as it should, meaning that the innocent are freed, and the guilty are punished fairly and without cruelty. But mistakes happen in all systems, including Oklahoma’s criminal justice system. Luckily, Oklahoma has a criminal appeals system to correct those mistakes. If you or a loved one have been unjustly or unfairly convicted, there is help available to you. A criminal appeals attorney at Wirth Law Office – Muskogee can help you navigate this complex process.
What Are Criminal Appeals?
A criminal appeal is a formal pleading lodged with the appellate court that asks the court to review the underlying conviction based on the law and facts of the case and to correct the wrongs that occurred.
Filing an appeal is one of a defendant’s fundamental rights. However, criminal appeals are subject to stringent court procedures and rules. Though we have all heard tales of “jailhouse lawyers” filing their own appeals, mistakes in these filings can mean a ruling against you. Therefore, it is best to have experienced Muskogee criminal lawyers handle any appeal.
Federal And State Criminal Appeals
Criminal convictions occur in both state and federal courts in Oklahoma. As a result, criminal appeals can be filed in either state or federal appeals courts depending on the jurisdiction involved in the underlying case. Rules and procedures vary between the two systems, including the timelines involved.
If you have been wrongfully convicted, it is important to start working on your appeal as soon as possible with a Muskogee attorney.
The Fresh Eyes of A Criminal Appeals Attorney In Muskogee Can Help
Criminal appellate law is a specialty within criminal law. It is imperative to have a clear sense of what went wrong in the underlying case. This includes a post-conviction investigation into the case and a careful reading of the trial transcript.
It is important to review the case thoroughly and to develop a comprehensive appellate plan from direct state appeals to federal habeas corpus, if necessary. An appeal can lose at the state level and win at the federal level.
Having a fresh pair of eyes involved can help. This is especially true if you believe that your trial attorney may have made mistakes in their representation of you at trial.
Therefore, if you are considering the possibility of filing an appeal, it is best to hire a new attorney. The skilled appellate attorneys at Muskogee’s Wirth Law Office can make a difference.
Grounds For Appeal
Not all mistakes result in grounds for appeal. Some legal mistakes, known as “harmless errors,” do not fundamentally affect the outcome of a case. It is only those legal mistakes that affect the case’s outcome that are recognized as grounds for an appeal.
Here are some typical legal mistakes that constitute grounds for appeal.
Legal errors often include such things as improperly admitted evidence, use of incorrect jury instructions, improperly excluded evidence, and other procedural mistakes. Some of these errors arise because of an improper ruling by a judge, while some arise from attorney error.
Legal errors become a ground for appeal when the error was prejudicial, and it is apparent that it could have reasonably affected the outcome of the case.
How jury members conduct themselves can greatly affect the outcome of any given case. Jurors are human, and they make mistakes.
Unfortunately, their mistakes can and do send innocent people to prison. These mistakes include things such as drug or alcohol use during trial or during deliberations, improper communications with others regarding the case while serving as a juror, and obtaining information regarding the case from any outside source such as the internet or television.
Lying or failing to disclose relevant information during jury selection that could affect the juror’s ability to maintain an open mind and follow the law is also wrong. So is accepting a bribe to vote in a particular way during deliberations.
Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel
Defendants have the right to the zealous representation of effective counsel. The fact that you lost your case at the trial level does not necessarily mean that your attorney was ineffective. Ineffective assistance of counsel becomes a legal ground for an appeal when your attorney failed to perform in a reasonably competent manner, and that performance negatively affected your case.
Ineffective assistance of counsel claims can be based on such things as failing to investigate a case, showing up in court under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failing to make proper trial objections, failing to question witnesses, and failure to investigate the law as it pertains to the case.
Sometimes, prosecutors mistake winning for justice. Winning at any cost may involve trampling on a defendant’s rights.
Prosecutorial misconduct often involves either omitting evidence relevant to a defendant’s innocence or purposely introducing contrived or tainted evidence that unfairly or erroneously points to a defendant’s guilt.
Discovery Of New Evidence
Appeals based on new evidence often involve DNA evidence that was either unavailable or improperly excluded.
Criminal Appeals Remedies Vary
Once all the briefs in an appeal are filed and the hearing is held, a court may rule in one of two different ways. It may reverse or affirm the underlying decision. If it affirms that decision, the defendant must continue their sentence. If it reverses that decision, the charges against the defendant are dropped.
An appeals court can also order a new trial or a new sentencing hearing. In both of these cases, the case is sent back down to the lower court, and the defendant remains incarcerated.
If the defendant is found innocent at the new trial, the charges are then dropped and they are released from jail.
There are other types of relief that may be available to you post-conviction. All matters and routes of relief on appeal should be discussed with your Muskogee attorney as part of a comprehensive appeals plan.
Free Consultation With A Criminal Appeals Attorney In Muskogee
Once convicted, the clock begins ticking on your ability to file for an appeal. Appeals are complex, and you will need to hire an experienced criminal appellate attorney in Muskogee as soon as possible.
The attorneys at Wirth Law Office – Muskogee will work with you to develop a comprehensive appellate plan. Call a criminal appeals attorney in Muskogee today at 918-884-7774 with your questions. You may also schedule a free, confidential consultation by clicking “request a consultation.”