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Nothing is more crushing than being found guilty of a crime. It can feel overwhelming to suddenly be facing life branded as a convicted criminal. However, it’s important to realize that there may still be hope. A better outcome may be quite difficult, but it may not be impossible or even unreasonable to hope for. That said, your chances of a successful appeal decline dramatically if you do not have a skilled appeals lawyer on your side.
New Jersey criminal appeals lawyer Lauren Wimmer has the knowledge and experience you need for a successful appeal. She will give you honest, candid advice about whether you should appeal and your likelihood of success. If you decide to proceed, she will aggressively pursue your appeal until you are satisfied or all avenues are exhausted. If you would like to schedule a free consultation and appeal evaluation, call Wimmer Criminal Defense Law at 215-712-1212 or contact us online to discuss your case and how we can help you.
As distressing as it may be to be convicted, it’s important to keep perspective. Your conviction doesn’t have to be the final word in your case. In a criminal case, there could be hundreds of complex factual and legal issues for the jury to consider. Keep in mind that the jury is composed of lay people – lay people who are chosen specifically because they are believed to be as unbiased as possible. However, this also often means that they have no experience with the criminal justice system whatsoever. As a result, the jury sometimes gets it wrong. If the jury came to an unreasonable decision, you may be able to appeal your conviction.
Strictly speaking, the jury only decides the facts, while the judge decides the law. Despite the judge’s legal training, the legal issues before him or her are often complex, and judges can make mistakes. It’s also common for the law to be unsettled with some courts deciding one way and other courts deciding another way. Judges can also make mistakes in how they apply the law, and you have the right to appeal your conviction if these mistakes are in any way to blame.
The criminal appeal process is complex, but the most important aspect of the criminal appeal process is the deadline. If you fail to file your appeal within the deadline mandated by New Jersey law, your case could be over no matter how strong it is. Furthermore, the deadline for a criminal appeal is extremely short:
While it is possible to get an extension, it’s not easy, and there is no guarantee the court will grant your request. As a result, it’s far better to simply meet the original deadline.
Your attorney can start the process by filing a Notice of Appeal. There are fees that will have to be paid and several forms that need to be completed. Failure to complete the correct forms or fill them out completely could jeopardize your case. The administrative aspects of an appeal are complex – if you are representing yourself, there is a “pro se” guide that provides further information.
Once the appeal has been accepted, your attorney can begin preparing the actual pleadings to support why you think your conviction should be overturned. Keep in mind that your case will not be retried. Instead, your lawyer will essentially be arguing that the law was misapplied in your case – it is a strictly legal argument.
Once all of the pleadings have been filed by both sides, and all preliminary issues have been resolved, your appeal will be heard by the appeal court. Unlike your trial, there will be no jury. Instead, your case will be heard by a panel of judges who will decide whether or not the trial court made any errors. Ultimately, the court will decide whether you are entitled to a new trial or whether your case should be dismissed.
As mentioned above, appeals typically address issues with the law and how it was applied to your case, which means successfully appealing a decision requires an extensive knowledge of the law. You need to understand not only the specific statutes that apply to your case but also the hundreds of legal cases that interpret those statutes. Finally, you need to be able to understand which arguments the court will find persuasive, how to present them, and anticipate the questions the appellate justices will have.
You do not need to be represented by the same lawyer who handled your trial. In fact, in many cases, it may be preferable to engage a new attorney. Your prior attorney may have done an excellent job, but they may not have the skill or experience to handle an appeal. In addition, it is always helpful to bring a fresh perspective and a new set of eyes to your case. Finally, prior counsel may be reluctant to identify issues in the way the case was handled out of fear that it will reflect poorly on them. An experienced appeals lawyer hired specifically to handle your case can give you objective, aggressive legal representation that gives you the best possible chance of a favorable decision on your appeal.
A criminal conviction is a life-changing event. If you think your case was decided unfairly, we can review your case and assess whether an appeal is right for you. However, time is not on your side – failure to file your appeal by the deadline means that you could lose your rights forever. Call us today at 215-712-1212 or visit us online to discuss your case and how we can help you. Your first consultation is always free.