An appeal is a process that assists someone who is being charged with a crime, also known as a defendant. An appeal gives the defendant the opportunity to use a higher court to over-turn a lower court’s decision. ”The appeals process is part of the system of “checks and balances” designed to ensure that defendants have received due process at ear- lier stages of the criminal justice process. ” (The Courts in Our Criminal Justice System, Meyer & Grant, Pg. 465) An appeal is also a defendant’s way of challenging the court’s ruling.
Appeals only take place after a criminal is found guilty and sentenced, if the appeal is successful the criminal will be released from incarceration and will not have to serve any more time. In this paper I will discuss what an appeal is, how it factors into the overall procedures and process of the criminal system. How the appeals process may be improved. Steps in the appeals process and an example case of an appeal. And why the example case appeal did or did not succeed. A defendant can challenge is conviction by filling an appeal to have the conviction overturned.
The first appeal filed in most cases in the Federal System and most State Court systems is an appeal of the Statutory Right. “Appellate court decisions in one jurisdiction also often serve as a source of guidance to courts in other jurisdictions that are seeking ideas on how to address a particular legal issue. ” (The Courts in Our Criminal Justice System, Meyer & Grant, Pg. 466) If they lose the appeals under the statutory right they may then appeal to the State Supreme Court or the U. S. Supreme Court. But in most cases a defendant does not have the right to file such an appeal. The Supreme Court must agree to hear the defendant’s case.
But defendant needs to remember that an Appeals Court is not automatically required to review a case. Merely filing an appeal does not automatically mean that a defendant will find it easy to have the court decision reversed. It is imperative that the defendant shows the court in the appeals process that the initial decision was incorrect or flawed in some way. This can be done by proving that the previous decision was made in error, or by bringing to light new evidence that was not offered in the initial trial. Defendants need to know that appellate courts each have rules that control the appellate process.
These rules are firm, and cover steps in the appeal and time limits. Appellate courts usually aren’t forgiving and flexible if you don’t follow the rules. Each state usually has their own rules for filing an appeal but there basic appeals procedures that the Federal and State Courts do follow. Failure to follow the rules can result in an appeals dismissal. There are numerous ways that the criminal appeals process can be made clearer and simpler. One is by making the procedures easy to do and follow. Basically the requirements need to be written in clear straight forward language that can be easily understood by all.
Accessibility to more judges is another way to improve the appeal process. And lastly the appeals need to be more effective and completed in a timelier period. A real world case that went through the appeals process and was successful is the Amanda Knox case. She was charged with murdering her roommate while attending school in Italy. After spending 48 months in an Italian prison Amanda Knox’s attorney’s appealed her case and won her freedom back. I remember following this case on the news, websites, and in the media in general and I always had this feeling that there was something fishy about the case.
She didn’t act guilty and she wasn’t, this is an example of a case that turned out for good, however most appeals don’t go in this direction. Very few criminal trial appeals are in fact successful. That’s why a criminal appeal may be granted to a defendant, it makes headlines in the news because it is so rare. In order for a conviction or a sentence to be overturned, the appeals court not only must find that an error occurred, but also that the error was clear and serious enough to affect the outcome of the trial.
A criminal conviction can be appealed on the basis that the strength of the evidence presented a trial did not support the verdict. This type of appeal is significantly more expensive and much lengthier than a legal error appeal and even more rarely successful. Appellate courts represent a key component of criminal case processing. References: Meyer, J. F. , & Grant, D. R. (2003). The courts in our criminal justice system. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.