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How is an appeal different from a trial?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | Criminal Appeals

The legal system is quite complex and intricate. Not everyone is well-versed in how things work in the justice system. For instance, many think an appeal is like a trial where their cases will be heard afresh. It can’t be further from the truth.

While appeals and trials are crucial parts of the legal process, their purpose, procedures and outcomes differ. Below are some of the differences.

The parties involved are not the same

A trial takes place in front of a judge or jury, and witnesses are involved. Evidence is presented, witnesses testify, and arguments are made before the court issues a judgment.

On the other hand, an appeal does not involve a jury or witnesses since it is not a trial per se. In most cases, appeals are heard by a panel of judges.

The purpose and procedure of an appeal are different

A trial is a question of your guilt or innocence. The prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction. However, the purpose of an appeal is to ascertain whether there were legal errors during the trial, such as jury misconduct or ineffective assistance of counsel.

The legal procedures of an appeal are also different from those of a trial. In a criminal trial, evidence is presented, and witnesses are called to give their testimonies. However, there are no witnesses in an appeal, and the appellate court does not look into existing or new evidence unless in exceptional circumstances. Instead, the parties submit written briefs to the court outlining their legal arguments.

The court decisions vary

A trial court usually renders a guilty or not-guilty verdict after all is said and done. However, an appellate court can either affirm the trial court’s decision, reverse it or send the case back to the trial court.

Navigating the appeals process can be overwhelming, and it is best to have legal representation and assistance if you are considering an appeal. The proper guidance and counsel will significantly boost your chances of a successful outcome.