Most Alabama residents would like to think the criminal court system is flawless. And while criminal courts in the state reach the correct verdict most of the time, mistakes are always possible. The good news for individuals who feel they suffer the consequences of an erroneous criminal conviction is that a remedy may exist for their situation.
Criminal appeals process
The appeals process involves reviewing procedures and activities of a trial court to ensure no errors affected a defendant’s ability to receive a fair and unbiased trial. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals is responsible for conducting this review. Lawyers for the defendant will have the opportunity to point out legal and procedural errors that they feel put their clients at a disadvantage.
The appeal of a criminal conviction does not represent a new trial. However, another day in court is one possible outcome of an appeal. Criminal law statutes allow appeals courts to check for issues like an unnecessarily harsh sentence or the improper admittance of evidence that may violate the defendant’s rights. The court may also determine if a defendant enjoyed the benefit of effective legal representation and a trial unmarred by an irreparable trial court error.
Appeals are not an automatic process. A defendant must notify the appropriate court of their intent to appeal a conviction within 42 days of sentencing. In addition to a Notice of Appeal, defendants must file a Reporter’s Transcript Order and Court of Criminal Appeals Docking Statement by the stated deadline.
The most likely outcome of an appeal is the affirmation of a conviction. But defendants should know that enough case reversals happen that it is well worth the effort it takes to file an appeal. A case reversal may not spell the end of the legal challenge for a defendant, however. The original court has the option to retry the case. An appellate court can also remand a case back to the original court to fix existing problems.
Defendants who file a criminal appeal have a lot riding on the outcome. Planning and preparation are necessary for defendants to find relief from the consequences of a conviction. An attorney may be able to assist with this goal.