If you have been convicted of a crime in Punta Gorda, you still have a chance to pursue a more favorable legal outcome. You can do this by filing an appeal. The process of filing an appeal in Florida is called the appellate process, and it’s important to understand how this works if you want to file an appeal. The purpose of the appellate process is to put another system of checks and balances on the legal system. Humans make mistakes, and regardless of how “perfect” our legal system is, it is still run by average people. Your conviction could very well be the result of a human error within this legal system, and the appellate process allows you to draw attention to these errors and pursue genuine justice.
If you are considering whether you should file an appeal, your best bet is to consult with an experienced, qualified criminal defense attorney. Not only can these legal professionals advise you as to whether you should file an appeal in the first place, but they can also help you file your appeal in an efficient manner. With the right criminal defense attorney at your side in Punta Gorda, the appellate process becomes much easier to navigate.
Who Can File an Appeal?
All defendants in the State of Florida who have been convicted of a crime can file a direct appeal of their conviction. That being said, it becomes much more difficult to file an appeal if you have entered a guilty or no contest plea. First, let’s assume that you entered a not guilty plea. The grounds for appeal are as follows:
- Your sentence was unlawful or illegal
- Certain evidence was suppressed
- Unlawful evidence was allowed to go before the jury
- A member of the jury was not fit to serve
- Misconduct by the prosecution
- Any error by the judge
So what if you entered a guilty or no contest plea? As previously noted, the grounds for an appeal become much narrower. In this situation, you can only file an appeal in these situations:
- You may reserve the right to appeal a prior dispositive order of the lower tribunal
- You may appeal the lower tribunal’s lack of subject matter jurisdiction
- You may appeal the violation of a plea agreement
- You may appeal an involuntary plea
- You may appeal a sentencing error
How Do You File an Appeal?
Your criminal defense attorney can help you file your appeal. That being said, these are the steps involved:
- You file a notice of appeal
- You obtain a record on appeal from the trial court clerk
- You prepare an initial brief and file it
- You await the answer brief and file a reply brief if necessary
- Finally, you await the appellate court’s decision
What Happens if I Win My Appeal?
If you win your appeal, a number of things might happen:
- The court may vacate your conviction or sentence
- A new trial may be held
- The initial decision could be modified or adjusted
- The trial court could accept new forms of evidence
In all of these situations, the appellate court accepts that an error has been made.