Federal Criminal Appeals Attorney in Naples
Collier County, Florida defense lawyer specializing
in cases involving serious charges
A conviction at trial is an emotionally difficult outcome for a defendant, but that verdict does not have to be the final say on the matter in Florida. The legal system accepts that mistakes can be made that violate defendants’ rights and cause injustice. The federal appeals process exists for this reason. A Naples federal appeals attorney at Joffe Law, P.A. can initiate your appeal, prepare the necessary briefs detailing the mistakes that occurred in district court and present oral arguments. An appeal could alter the conviction or sentence depending on the circumstances.
An appeal is not a new trial
Appellate judges do not conduct a new trial. Instead, they review the technical details presented in the appeal regarding any misconduct or errors that influenced the verdict or sentence. In Florida, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit processes federal criminal appeals. In rare instances, a criminal case might be appealed up to the Supreme Court of the United States.
An appellate court may:
- dismiss the appeal
- affirm the lower court’s decision
- overturn a conviction
- instruct the lower court to modify or correct a judgment
- instruct the lower court to consider new evidence
- instruct the lower court to reconsider existing evidence
- instruct the lower court to reevaluate the case based on a recent appeals court decision
- order a new trial
What happens during an appeal?
The Notice of Appeal begins the process. This court filing provides the appellate court with the trial transcript and court records, which represent the Record of Appeal. No new information or evidence will be included in the filing. The appellate judges will be working from the information presented during the trial.
After initiating the appeal, the defendant’s side files a brief that explains the grounds for challenging the conviction or sentence. The prosecutor’s side will write a brief as well defending the original outcome.
Appellate judges can and often do make their decision based on the content of these briefs alone. However, they have the option of hearing oral arguments in which the judges and the attorneys discuss the issues at hand. In criminal cases, oral arguments are very important. Reversing a decision in a federal criminal case typically requires oral arguments to sway the judges. A federal appeals lawyer with extensive knowledge of criminal statutes and Constitutional rights could make the difference for a defendant at this crucial stage of the process. At the end of the appeal, the panel of judges issues a written Opinion that explains their decision.
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Grounds for an appeal
Every legal case depends on the actions and interpretations of the people involved in the process. The human element could introduce errors or prejudices that undermine the judicial process. Some form of misconduct or error of law will need to be present for an appellate court to alter a previous judicial ruling. Minor mistakes that would not have mattered to the final outcome will not qualify for changing a conviction or sentence.
Possible grounds for appealing a criminal case are:
- incorrect jury instructions
- insufficient evidence to support guilty verdict
- jurors using intoxicants during trial or jury deliberations
- biased jury selection
- improper contact and communication between jurors and witnesses or attorneys
- improperly excluded or admitted evidence
- mistakes in a judge’s pretrial or trial rulings
- inadequate defense representation
- mistakes by the prosecution
A detailed analysis of what occurred during a trial by a skilled federal appeals attorney could uncover meaningful issues to support an appeal. For example, a South Florida bank robber case was appealed on the basis that the prison sentence applied was unjustly enhanced to 46 months due to a probation officer’s recommendation that the robbery note’s statement “no one will get hurt” represented a death threat. The appellate panel at the 11th Circuit agreed that the district court should not have viewed this as a death threat and sent the case back to the lower court for resentencing.
Detail-oriented federal appeals representation
Joffe Law, P.A. has been defending the rights of people for over 30 years during federal trials and appeals. A wrongful conviction or overly harsh sentence devastate those involved, and we are prepared to comb through the trial record looking for opportunities to appeal your case. Contact our Naples office to consult us today.
FAQs: Federal Appeals
How long does a federal criminal appeal take?
Federal courts have packed schedules. On top of that, judges must consider the legal questions raised by the appeal. The case analysis and research take time to complete. As a result, a federal criminal appeal will take several months at a minimum. Most likely a year will pass before a decision emerges from an appellate court.
Can an appeal reverse a criminal conviction?
An appellate court rarely decides to vacate a district court’s conviction, but it is possible if the appellate judges are convinced that the prosecution in the original trial failed to prove every element of a criminal charge. However, a decision that acknowledges trial errors could result in a new trial, or essentially a second chance for a defendant.
What can be done after losing an appeal?
Options remain should an appellate court not deliver the decision hoped for. The process of post-conviction relief offers an additional route for seeking relief. A defendant may petition for a rehearing of the appeal by the full court instead of a panel of judges. Constitutional issues, such as prosecutorial misconduct or inadequate counsel, can serve as reasons to continue the defense of a criminal defendant.