Why Do Defendants Choose to Appeal the Verdict?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

New Mexico Defense Attorneys Filing Appeals for those Convicted of a Crime

appealNot all guilty verdicts have grounds for appeal, and it is a common misconception to assume that anyone convicted of a crime can appeal. Instead, reasons for appeal must be based on law. The appeal is what allows a criminal defendant to attack a court judgment based on the law, and not based on the facts of the case.

Appealing a verdict on legal grounds means that there was an error that resulted from an issue with the law. The most common reasons why defendants elect to appeal their decisions are: A lack of sufficient evidence or findings, improper jury instructions, improper exclusion, juror misconduct, and ineffective assistance of counsel.

Preserving the Error for Appeals

For a defendant to appeal based on a legal error, the attorney of the accused must have the objected error on record. This can be done verbally during the trial or through written motions presented to the court. If the attorney does not point out the error to the court, then he or she has essentially waived the right to appeal based on that error.

Incorrect Jury Instructions

A common ground for an appeal is when the jury receives incorrect instructions. At the end of a criminal trial, the judge is required to give the jurors instructions about deliberations. He or she tells them about applicable laws to the case. If he or she fails to do so or uses an incorrect application of the law, then these are erroneous jury instructions and give the defendant grounds for an appeal.

Juror Misconduct

An example of juror misconduct would be communication issues. When a juror communicates inappropriately with a witness or another attorney for the defense or prosecution, he or she has committed misconduct.

Juror experiments are another example of juror misconduct. For example, when a juror investigates more than they are legally allowed to in a criminal trial.

Sentencing Errors

The state’s sentencing laws are complex; therefore, sentencing errors were particularly common. Everything from prior offenses to a consideration of all charges is used to determine the appropriate sentence. While there are guidelines provided by the state and federal government, these are not always specific. A judge must use his or her discretion when picking a sentence for a defendant.

If a judge gives a reason for the sentence decision, and the defendant’s attorney feels that is a violation of the law or application of the law, there may be grounds for appeal.

Ineffective Counsel

Everyone is entitled to a lawyer. Even if one is provided and paid for by the state, that attorney must provide competent counsel to the defendant. When the defendant receives ineffective assistance for a lawyer, there may be grounds for appeal.

Examples of ineffectivity include if an attorney fails to object to improper evidence, strikes a deal with the prosecution without consulting the client, misses court hearings, abuses drugs or alcohol while representing a client, or fails to file a motion for a mistrial when it is blatantly obvious to do so.

Do You Feel Your Case Qualifies for Appeal?

If you feel that your case qualifies for an appeal, or if you would like to consult with a criminal defense attorney about appealing your conviction, contact the team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices for a free consultation. Call us at 505-200-2982 or request more information online.