What is an Appeal?
If you are convicted of a crime in Arizona, your case is not necessarily over. The appeals process allows you to have your case reviewed for errors by a higher court in an attempt to alter the original decision of the trial court. Appeals are only available under certain conditions, but an experienced appellate attorney can help evaluate your case and advise the best path moving forward. There are a few options to take advantage of, depending on the situation.
A direct appeal must be filed within 20 days of a criminal conviction and occurs typically after a trial which the client has lost. The defendant must file a Notice of Appeal, which starts the appeals process. After a set period of time during which the "record on appeal" is prepared by the court (this includes transcripts of hearings, motions filed by the parties, order of the court), the defense's attorney will file an Opening Brief, to which the Government will file an Answering Brief. The defense may then file a Reply Brief. Typically three judges from the court of appeals will review the documents, may hear oral arguments, and make a decision about the case. A court of appeal may affirm, modify or reverse the ruling of the lower court.
Post-Conviction Relief Petitions
Post-conviction relief under Rule 32 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure is a different type of appeal. Rule 32 allows you to raise claims that can't be raised on direct appeal. These typically involve claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, such as when an attorney fails to interview key witnesses, or if there is new evidence to introduce to the case. These claims must also be filed within a certain period of time after a trial. The defendant has 90 days from the original sentencing date or 30 days from the date of the final appeal. Post-conviction relief petitions are filed in the same court that the case was originally heard in. If you have pleaded guilty to a crime and are unsatisfied with the result of your case after sentencing, Rule 32 is typically your only avenue of appeal.
Petitions for Writs of Habeas Corpus
Petitions for writs of Habeas Corpus can only be filed once all other avenues of state level appeal are exhausted. They are filed with the US District Court. The process allows prisoners to challenge the basis of their confinement and address violations of their constitutional rights in federal court. With few exception, it must be filed within 1 years of the conviction becoming final in state court.
Grounds for Appeal
There are multiple reasons why criminal convictions may be appealed. If certain points of law were misapplied or if procedural errors were made in the court, a direct appeal may be an option. For example, if a judge provides incorrect jury instructions, denies or allows the admission of certain evidence at trial, or mishandles witness testimony, the defense may have grounds for an appeal.
Appealing a Criminal Conviction in Tucson
If you believe that your case was mishandled, you have been wrongfully convicted, or unfairly sentenced, you may wish to explore options for appeal. Attorneys Sherick and Bleier understand the pain and injustice of a wrongful conviction case and provide thorough and dynamic legal assistance to clients working through the appeal process in Tucson and Southern Arizona. To review your case for appeal with an experienced attorney, contact Sherick & Bleier, PLLC, today at (520) 318-3939 or contact them online.
We handle appeals and post-conviction cases in a number of practice areas, including: