A criminal conviction will have massive consequences. Even if the sentence the judge hands down is not that harsh, the very fact you have a criminal record could affect you for years. It can harm your reputation and your ability to secure work, housing and education opportunities. Besides, even one night in jail is one too many if you are innocent.
A successful appeal cannot right all the wrongs, but it can certainly reduce the damage you will suffer. Yet you cannot just appeal every case, even if you know you are innocent.
Federal law limits the grounds on which you can appeal
Here are some potential reasons that you can file an appeal on your conviction:
1. Problems related to the application of the law
Prosecutors often try all means possible to get a conviction. They may go for a conviction for something else when they know their chances of succeeding under the appropriate law are limited. Yet the laws are not black and white. Often there is considerable room for interpretation, and either the prosecution or the judge may go too far and be too liberal in their interpretation of a statute. Your appeal team may be able to argue they overstepped the mark.
2. There were issues with the trial itself
If you believe your trial was a sham or that the jury was set up to convict you rather than hear you with impartiality, you may be able to appeal. You could also seek to appeal if your defense team failed to live up to the professional standards expected of them. That means a serious breach, not just failing to win your case.
Appealing a conviction is not easy. That’s why you will need legal help to examine your case and understand your options and chances of success.