Appealing a criminal charge has two components. The first involves requesting a trial instead of pleading guilty. The second involves asking a higher court to consider mistakes or injustices that led to a conviction. Explaining everything that happens while contesting an initial charge and pursuing appeals would take a library full of books. Here, the Columbus Ohio criminal defense attorneys will just highlight the most important reasons why you should always consider asking for your day in court and why you may have grounds for appealing a conviction.
Why Contest a Criminal Charge
Every person charged with committing a crime in Ohio and across the United States has the right to request a trial. Exercising that right allows the accused person and his or her criminal defense attorney to do the following things:
- Examine and analyze all the evidence collected by the police
- Question law enforcement officials who conducted the investigation and made the arrest
- Question witnesses who will be called to speak against the defendant
- Prepare a defense based on evidence and testimony that supports the defendant’s innocence or calls the prosecution’s case into question
- Enter into discussions with the prosecutor and judge about pleading to a more minor offense that carries a lesser penalty
Going to trial also makes it easier to file an appeal of a conviction. While Ohio does allow a person to ask for a new trial after pleading guilty, succeeding with such a request is exceedingly difficult.
Why Appeal a Criminal Conviction
People convicted of crimes have several opportunities to appeal. The most common is a direct appeal, during which the evidence against the defendant is reconsidered or the way the first trial was conducted is examined. Ohio permits a defendant and his or her defense attorney to file a direct appeal on any of the following grounds:
- Police and prosecutors collected, stored, analyzed, or presented evidence improperly.
- Statements made by the defendant during interrogation or by prosecution witnesses were coerced, false, or inadmissible for other reasons.
- The original judge’s rulings on pretrial motions and objections to courtroom proceedings were incorrect under law or trial guidelines.
- The sentence imposed exceeded maximum limits spelled out instate statutes.
- The judge’s instructions to jurors regarding how to interpret relevant laws, weigh different kinds of evidence, or recommend a sentence were unclear or not followed.
- Violations of the defendant’s civil rights occurred. Examples of this could include not being informed of the right to an attorney or hearing racist comments from law enforcement officials or jurors.
A notice of intent to file a direct appeal must be delivered to the court within 30 days of the original conviction. State law also strongly recommends hiring a new Criminal defense attorney to handle the actual appeals case.