Have You Been Convicted of a Criminal Offense in California?
If you have received a criminal conviction in California, under what circumstances can you appeal that conviction? Can you appeal your conviction even if you entered a guilty plea? You will need to seek personalized legal advice from an Orange County criminal appeals attorney.
When you file an appeal, you ask a higher court to examine the trial record for any legal mistakes or violations of your rights in the trial process. An appeal is not a second trial, but if an appeal succeeds, the appellate court may return the case to the trial court and order a second trial.
When there has been a wrongful conviction, the legal system offers the appeals process as a remedy. Keep reading for the answers that you may need, now or in the future, about the appeals process, guilty pleas, and your right to appeal a criminal conviction in the State of California.
How Are Convictions Appealed?
In the California criminal appeals process, the convicted individual who seeks to appeal a conviction is called the “appellant.” The Appellate Division of the Superior Court considers misdemeanor appeal requests. Felony appeals are heard by the California Court of Appeal.
Appeals of federal convictions in this state are considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. Whether you appeal a misdemeanor or felony conviction – at the state or federal level – the first step is contacting an Orange County criminal appellate lawyer.
New evidence cannot be offered during an appeal proceeding, and witnesses do not testify. An appellate court’s sole responsibility is to examine the trial record for legal or procedural mistakes that may have violated the defendant’s legal rights or may have led to a wrongful conviction.
Did You Enter a Guilty Plea?
Most criminal cases in California conclude, not with a trial and a jury verdict, but when the defendant pleads guilty as charged or guilty to a lesser charge. Innocent people sometimes enter a guilty plea if they do not think they can prove to a court that they are innocent of the charge.
This cannot be stressed strongly enough: If you are charged with a crime in California, do not plead guilty. Defendants can avoid a great deal of unnecessary legal trouble by contacting a criminal defense attorney immediately and entering a not guilty plea at the arraignment hearing.
If you accept a plea deal and plead guilty to a lesser charge in return for a reduced sentence, the terms of that plea deal may preclude you from appealing your conviction. Do not accept any offer for a plea deal until and unless your criminal defense lawyer recommends accepting it.
What Are the Legal Grounds for an Appeal?
However, if you entered a guilty plea at your arraignment hearing, and if you were not offered a plea deal or did not accept a plea deal, you may appeal your criminal conviction if you claim:
- Legal mistakes were made or your rights were violated in the legal process.
- Your lawyer misled you about the consequences of pleading guilty.
- You were mentally impaired at the time you entered the guilty plea.
- The court did not fully inform you regarding your rights.
If your defense lawyer did not communicate with you properly, did not adequately investigate the charge against you, didn’t understand the law, or had a conflict of interest regarding your prosecution, these are legal mistakes that may constitute grounds for an appeal.
If your case went to trial, and if evidence that was illegally gathered by law enforcement officers was introduced, or if a judge, prosecutor, or law enforcement officers violated your legal rights at any point during the process, you may have adequate grounds for filing an appeal.
What is the Deadline for Filing an Appeal?
Appeals must be filed swiftly in California, within thirty days of a misdemeanor conviction or within sixty days of a felony conviction. The appeals process begins when your Orange County criminal appeals attorney files a Notice of Appeal with the court that convicted you.
Contact an appeals lawyer promptly after a conviction. The law requires you and your lawyer to meet a number of deadlines and other requirements, so your Notice of Appeal must be filed at once. If you miss the deadline, a late filing will be heard by a California appellate court only if:
- Your trial attorney neglected a legal duty connected to your right to file an appeal.
- Prior to the deadline, you asked jail or prison personnel to mail a Notice of Appeal for you, but the notice was received by the appellate court after that deadline. (Don’t try to file your own Notice of Appeal; you should have an attorney’s help.)
How Are Convictions Overturned on Appeal?
The guidelines for appealing a criminal conviction in California are substantially different from the rules for a criminal trial. Speaking honestly, very few criminal convictions are overturned by the appellate courts in this state.
However, defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and juries make mistakes just like everyone else. That is why the right to appeal a conviction is a fundamental aspect of California’s justice system.
In order to appeal a criminal conviction in this state, you should be represented by an Orange County criminal appellate lawyer who has substantial experience in the appellate courts – a lawyer who has a record of success and a reputation for legal excellence.
How Can You Find the Right Appeals Lawyer?
Defense attorney Diane C. Bass brings more than a quarter-century of legal experience to every case and every client. She advises and represents those who are charged with crimes in this state as well as those who seek to appeal criminal convictions in both the state and federal courts.
In many criminal cases, having the right attorney can make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. If you are charged with a crime in Southern California, avoiding a conviction – and avoiding any need for an appeal – is the best strategy. Criminal defense lawyer Diane C. Bass will protect your rights and bring your criminal case to its best possible resolution.
However, if you have already been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor in this state, and you need to appeal that conviction, contact the law offices of California criminal defense attorney Diane C. Bass immediately at 949-577-8368, and let her put the law to work for you.