How To Improve Your Chances

Be Careful About Your Appeal

Appealing a criminal conviction or sentence is not something that you should attempt to handle on your own. An appeal is a complex area of the law that requires an adherence to procedures that could result in an appeal being dismissed because of a technical violation. There are, however, a few things that you can do to improve the chances of your appeal succeeding.

Choose An Appellate Attorney

One of the most common, and inaccurate, pieces of advice that people get when they mention filing an appeal after losing a criminal case is to use the same attorney who handled the trial. After all, the criminal trial attorney already knows the facts of the case, so he or she will be in the best position to know the issues to bring up in the appellate court.

Retaining the services of an attorney whose practice is concentrated on state and federal appeals to handle the appeal of your criminal conviction is similar to turning to a surgeon instead of your family doctor if you are in need of open heart surgery. Your family doctor might be the person most familiar with your medical history, but a heart surgeon probably knows more about the heart and is better skilled at the surgical techniques necessary for a successful outcome.

An appellate attorney knows that rules and procedures that apply to criminal and civil appeals. Attorneys who concentrate on doing appellate work know how to search through trial transcripts, pleadings and documents to identify appealable issues.

Another factor weighing in favor of using a new attorney to handle the appeal of your case is having a new set of eyes reviewing the case. An attorney scouring through a trial record might be in a better position to evaluate the performance of trial counsel. Errors made by an attorney during a trial might be the basis for an appeal on the issue of effective assistance of counsel.