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Every client who comes to us seeking a criminal appeal lawyer has a unique story, and circumstances, but they all have one thing in common, they understand that the criminal justice system has not delivered justice for them or a loved one. Sometimes clients believe that they received an unjust sentence, other times they believe that the government broke the law to convict them, and sadly, many times a person has been wrongly convicted where they were innocent. In any of these situations, you are seeking an experienced criminal appeal lawyer to understand your options.
Some of the questions we receive:
We seek to understand your questions and concerns first, and then discuss those issues that matter most to you. We are building an extensive library of resources for people who want to know how criminal appeals work, and what issues may have arisen in the case they are researching.
If you have questions about how criminal appeals work, you can receive our free guide for Ohio Criminal Appeals by clicking here. If you have a federal case, our office also has successful experience in federal cases on appeal, and you can receive our free guide for Federal Criminal Appeals by clicking here. Or you can just pick up the phone and call us at 216-487-7055, and we will be happy to set up a consultation or mail you a copy of our criminal appeals guides if in stock.
If you feel an error or mistake was made in convicting you of a crime or in determining your sentence, you have a chance to obtain justice by filing a criminal appeal under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2505, and Rule 5 of the Ohio Rules of Appellate Procedure. A NOTICE OF APPEAL MUST BE FILED IN YOUR CASE WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE SENTENCE. If you fail to file your notice of appeal within the first 30-days, you may lose your right to appeal altogether. Call us today at 216-487-7055.
An appeal is a complex process.
A criminal appeal is a legal argument presented to a higher court, such as the Ohio 8th District Court of Appeals, or the Ohio Supreme Court, that mistakes or legal errors were made during the criminal process in lower courts that impacted your ability to receive a fair verdict or decision. During the criminal appeals process, a panel of judges will review how your case was handled in lower courts and determine if errors were made. The panel of judges can decide to reverse a lower court’s conviction if it is found that mistakes were made during the criminal process.
Under Ohio law, any person convicted of a felony offense can file an appeal within 30 days from the date of conviction. If you are interested in filing an appeal, you should speak to an experienced criminal appeal lawyer immediately. Your skilled appellate lawyer can determine if you have grounds to file an appeal.
What are Common Grounds to Win an Appeal in Ohio? (O.R.C. 2505)
In Ohio, criminal appeals are very different than the criminal trial process. In a criminal trial, the jury (or judge) will have to determine whether the evidence presented in the case is strong enough to convince them of your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a criminal appeal case, the appellate court is concerned with whether the criminal justice process you were exposed to was fair and legal.
An appellate court, except in rare cases, will not weigh the evidence from your case during an appeal. What this means is that the appeals court will not second-guess the jury’s decision to believe that a witness was telling the truth, no matter how badly the witness seemed to be lying. What the appellate court is looking for is legal errors or misconduct that made the criminal trial process unfair to the defense.
Trial errors typically are made unintentionally, but they can have a major impact on your case. Some examples of trial errors that could lead to an appeal include:
Let’s further explore the most common grounds for appealing a conviction in Ohio and how an experienced criminal appeal lawyer may be able to apply them to your case:
One common way an experienced criminal appeal lawyer may be able to have your conviction reversed is by showing that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the jury’s guilty verdict. You’re probably thinking, “Hold on, I thought you said that an appellate court won’t weigh the evidence on appeal? Doesn’t an appellate court only deal with legal errors?”
Evidence could be a factor in your appeal.
It is important to note that insufficiency of evidence refers to a legal error. This is something that takes an experienced criminal appeal lawyer to truly understand.
In legal terms, legally insufficient evidence means that when the entire record is reviewed in the light most favorable to the judgment, giving every reasonable inference in support thereof, there is no hypothesis whatsoever that would support an inference that the accused is guilty of the crime charged. So, what does this mean in plain English? The best way to understand insufficiency of evidence is to explore the following two examples:
Example One: You are charged with murdering Michael Jones. At trial, Michael Jones (yes, the same Michael Jones) testifies that you punched him in the stomach and hit him in the head with a baseball bat, putting him in the hospital for a week due to his injuries. The jury finds you guilty of murder.
In this example, the facts of the case aren’t in dispute, and neither is the law. Murder requires, among other things, that the defendant actually killed the victim. Michael Jones, by virtue of the fact he testified at trial, is clearly still alive. Taking the facts in a light most favorable to the prosecutor, Michael Jones is still alive and, as such, there is legally insufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict of guilty on the murder charge. A criminal appeal lawyer will likely be able to use these facts to help you get your conviction overturned.
Example Two: You are charged with robbing a man on the street. The victim did not see the attacker, but a group of onlookers did. The group consisted of several highly upstanding citizens with excellent eyesight and one less-than-upstanding citizen who was drunk at the time, had been convicted of perjury twice in the past, and who was nearsighted and was not wearing his glasses. The upstanding citizens testified that the police arrested the wrong man. The less-than-upstanding citizen said you robbed the victim. The jury rejects the upstanding citizens’ testimony and convicts you of robbery.
In this example, the facts of the case were in dispute. The upstanding citizens supported the defense and the drunken man supported the prosecution. It was up to the jury to decide who was telling the truth and who was not, and the jury accepted the testimony of the drunken man as credible beyond a reasonable doubt. An appellate court will not question the jury’s finding on this point, even though such a finding would be mind-boggling. Unfortunately, your chances of winning an appeal under these circumstances aren’t good.
While these might be extreme examples, they perfectly illustrate the concept of legally insufficient evidence. If the jury could have accepted a witness’ testimony as credible and found that all of the requirements or elements of the crime were true, the evidence will be viewed as legally sufficient.
At a criminal trial, there are two sides: the defense and the prosecution. The defense’s job is to represent your legal interests. The prosecution’s job is to represent the People of the State of Ohio. Prosecutors are allowed to be aggressive while doing their job, but they must always keep in mind that they represent the interests of the People. Sometimes, prosecutors lose sight of this and develop a mentality that they must convict at all costs. In doing so, some cross the line and commit prosecutorial misconduct.
Misconduct covers a wide range of behavior. Some examples of prosecutorial misconduct that criminal appeal attorneys have uncovered in past cases include:
If you believe that prosecutors in your case committed prosecutorial misconduct in order to secure a conviction, your criminal appeal lawyers may have solid grounds for appeal. You should seek the help of our experienced Cuyahoga County and Ohio criminal appeal lawyers at Norman Law immediately.
When a jury is sworn in, they make an oath to follow the law and obey the judge’s instructions. Unfortunately, it is not always the case that they follow those instructions.
Sometimes, jurors violate their oath or the judge’s instructions to them. When this happens, it is considered “juror misconduct.” If it can be shown that juror misconduct was committed with prejudice to the defense, it can result in your conviction being overturned by your criminal appellate attorney.
Some examples of juror misconduct include:
A judicial error involves an erroneous decision or improper action by the trial judge.
Some examples of judicial errors that could result your conviction being overturned include:
Judicial error is one of the most common ways to win your appeal. Speak to our criminal appellate lawyers at Norman Law today if you believe a judicial error affected your criminal case.
“Ineffective assistance of counsel” essentially means that your criminal defense lawyer was ineffective in defending you.
Your lawyer may have been ineffective.
However, you cannot simply state that your lawyer was ineffective in order to win an appeal. You have to understand what criminal appellate courts consider “ineffective.”
To be ineffective from a legal prospective, your criminal defense attorney must have engaged in conduct (or failed to engage in conduct) that no reasonable criminal lawyer would have done (or failed to do).
Courts have ruled that there is a wide array of valid tactical choices a lawyer can make in defending a case, and if the lawyer makes a valid tactical choice, the court will not second-guess the lawyer. Appellate courts also recognize that trials are about winning the war, not winning a battle. Let’s explore some detailed examples of how defense strategy could be considered valid or ineffective.
Example One: If the prosecutor in your case attempted to have harmful inadmissible evidence admitted and your lawyer failed to object, the failure to object might be enough for the lawyer to be considered “ineffective.” However, if your criminal lawyer failed to object because he or she was afraid that objecting would cause the prosecutor to seek to admit much more harmful evidence that is admissible, it would be considered a reasonable tactical decision, and your lawyer would not be considered ineffective.
Example Two: Your criminal defense lawyer asked the jury to return a guilty verdict. You may be thinking “what lawyer in his right mind would do that?” but it is something we’ve seen happen before. In the unique case, the lawyer was not ineffective in asking for a guilty verdict. The defendant in the case was charged with several serious felony crimes and one count of a misdemeanor offense. The evidence showed that the defendant was clearly guilty of the misdemeanor, and the defense lawyer asked the jury to find the defendant guilty on the misdemeanor count. The defense lawyer was hoping that, by asking the jury to find the defendant guilty of the lesser crime, the lawyer would be seen as more credible by the jury, who might thus consider finding the defendant not guilty of the more serious felony crimes.
Ineffective assistance of counsel is a complex legal topic that requires an experienced criminal appeal lawyer to fully understand. If you think ineffective assistance of counsel may have impacted your criminal case, contact our skilled criminal appellate lawyers at Norman Law today.
It is not enough to show that an error was made in your case to win your appeal. Your criminal appeals lawyer must show that the error had an impact on your case, and the result of the case may have been different had the error not been made.
In making this determination, the appellate court must decide whether the error made in your case is a “plain error” or a “harmless error.”
The “plain error” rule applies to errors that are so severe that they require the conviction to be reversed no matter how strong the evidence against the accused was.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the following errors will result in an automatic reversal of a criminal conviction:
If any of these errors occurred in your case, your criminal conviction will be reversed. The appellate court must conclusively presume that you were harmed by the error.
If your case does not fall within the plain error rule, the appellate court will do a “harmless error” analysis, which varies depending upon the type of error being claimed. So, how does a harmless error analysis work?
There’s an old saying among appellate court judges that “a defendant is entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect trial.” What this means is that just because there was an error or misconduct during the trial, it does not mean that your conviction will automatically be reversed. In most cases, it must be shown that you were harmed in some way by the error or misconduct. “Harm” in this sense typically means that, had the error or misconduct not occurred, the result would have been better for the defense.
The appeals court will rule on errors.
The nature of the error or misconduct will dictate who has the burden of proof. This is why it is called the “harmless error rule.” The more serious the error, or if a number of errors were made, the stronger your argument for overturning your conviction will be.
If the error alleged is an error in the application of California state law, the California Supreme Court has ruled that your conviction cannot be reversed unless your criminal appellate lawyer can show that it is probable that you would have received a better result at trial if the error had not occurred. Therefore, your criminal appeal lawyer has the burden of convincing the appellate court that you would have gotten a better result had the error not happened.
If the error constitutes a violation of your Constitutional rights (i.e. denial of your right to cross examine a witness, or a prosecutor’s repeated comment on a defendant’s failure to testify at trial), the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the prosecution must demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the error did not contribute to the jury’s verdict. For errors of this type, the prosecutor must convince the appellate court, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the error did not in any way contribute to you being found guilty. If the prosecutor cannot meet this burden of proof, your conviction will be reversed.
Finally, if the error is that your lawyer was ineffective, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that your criminal appeals lawyer must show that your lawyer’s errors were “so serious that counsel was not functioning as the ‘counsel’ guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment,” and that the performance was so deficient that it denied you of a fair trial.
If you win your appeal, your case is not over. First of all, the prosecutor will have the opportunity to appeal the appellate court’s decision to a higher court. If your appeal is granted, the case will be remanded (sent back) to the trial court and you may receive a new trial.
However, the prosecution will often wish to avoid a new trial, and thus offer you a plea bargain, which is an agreement that will be much more favorable to you than the sentence you may have received if the original conviction by the trial court would not have been reversed.
If the appellate court ruled that certain evidence or a confession should not have been admitted at trial and it appears that you are unlikely to be convicted without the use of such evidence, the prosecutor may choose to dismiss the charges against you completely. The prosecutor may also decide to drop the charges altogether if key witnesses from the original trial can no longer be found.
Just call – 216-487-7055
Speak to a skilled criminal appeal lawyer now!
Filing an appeal is a complicated process that requires the experience of the best appeal lawyer you can find. That is why you should not hesitate to contact our criminal appeal lawyers at Norman Law if you are interested in appealing your conviction.
With cases in Cuyahoga County, Lake County, Harrison County, Lorain County, Trumbull County, Ashtabula County, Summit County, Stark County, Cleveland, Rocky River, Westlake, Fairview Park, North Olmsted, Akron, Warren, Jefferson, Elyria, Lorain, and many other jurisdictions you can find an experienced criminal appeal lawyer for your case no matter where you work or live.
Contact our law firm today at 216-487-7055 for a free phone consultation regarding your case. We will be there when you call.
I contacted Mr. Norman with short notice before my court date. I explained to him my plight, and he advised me on the possible options to me. His fees were more than reasonable, so I happily hired him. Upon going to court , he got me the absolute best possible deal, and I didn’t even have to say a word. It’s best to stay out of trouble, but if you need an attorney, I highly recommend hiring William Norman. Better to hire an attorney now, than regret not hiring him later.
Will is an experienced professional. He did his homework on my case and got me the exact deal I hoped for. He kept everything real simple with me so I could clearly understand all the in and outs of the trail and I never felt out of the loop with everything.
Mr. William Norman has helped me. He responds back to you pretty quickly and definitely knows what he's talking about. It also seems like he is very well respected and known in the court rooms which I thought was amazing. I highly recommend him.
Worth every penny. Did better than expected. Humble and professional which is not expected. Will reccomend highly!
I have witnessed firsthand Will’s AGGRESSIVE and THOROUGH representation of his clients. He is passionate and caring about his clients and their cases. I have referred several cases to him and always get 100% positive feedback. He recently represented a close family member with a complex case that he got dismissed! He will not only represent you to the fullest extent, he will educate you and make sure you are fully aware of what is going on. He doesn’t settle, he demands results! Highly recommend this lawyer!
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