A finding of guilt by a jury isn’t the end of the line. Many criminal convictions have been overturned on appeal. Cases in Manchester and Hartford can be appealed to the Connecticut Appellate Court and to the Connecticut Supreme Court. These higher courts usually review questions of law that were made in the trial of your case.
The reasons for filing an appeal depend on a variety of issues such as the type of charges and what happened during your trial. Some of the general reasons you can file an appeal include:
- Improper jury instructions. After the prosecution and your defense attorney make closing arguments to the jury, the judge prepares instructions for these jurors. These instructions inform the jury about the facts and issues they can and can’t consider in deciding your fate. The instructions must be fair and must respect your rights. If the judge’s instructions violate your rights, then an appeal can be filed. For instance, a judge must instruct a jury on each and every element of a crime. If the jury isn’t told about even one essential element of a crime, and the jury finds you guilty of the crime, then the conviction can be appealed and an appellate court can order a new trial.
- Improper use of evidence. During every criminal trial, the trial judge often has to decide what evidence can be admitted, and what evidence should be excluded. These rulings apply to physical evidence such as admitting or not allowing breath test results. The rulings also apply to oral testimony. Judges usually exclude hearsay evidence unless there’s an exemption. What evidence is allowed/excluded has a large bearing on the outcome of your case. The appellate courts review whether the evidence ruling was in error – and whether that error was substantial enough to affect the jury’s decision.
- Improper arrest. Most criminal cases begin with an arrest. The police either need a warrant to arrest you, or there has to be a valid reason to arrest you without a warrant.
- Insufficient evidence. This is different than improper use of evidence. The evidence that is admitted must be enough to convict you beyond a reasonable doubt. If it looks like the conviction was based on emotions or factors other than evidence, an appeal is justified.
- Misconduct by the jury. Juror misconduct can take many forms. Jurors must be honest during the selection of the jury process. They must follow rules such as not discussing the case with other people before the jury deliberates.
- Errors in sentencing. There are federal and state rules governing what sentences can be imposed, and what factors should be considered. Failure to apply these rules or consider the correct factors justifies an appeal.
Unethical actions by the prosecution and ineffective assistance of counsel are other reasons for appealing a criminal case.
The experienced Manchester criminal defense lawyers at Barry, Barall & Spinella, LLC, have a strong track record of success in obtaining dismissals and acquittals. We also have negotiated numerous plea bargains that reduce the charges to less serious offenses. If a conviction does occur, we’re ready to file appeals when there were judicial or prosecutorial errors. To review all aspects of a criminal charge from arrest through trial and appeal, call us at 860-649-4400 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent defendants in Hartford, Manchester, and throughout the state. Please note: all Manchester cases are currently being heard in Rockville Court in Tolland County.