An adverse ruling in a criminal case is a serious blow, and it can leave you reeling – but you need to act quickly to begin the appeals process.
Even though you’re struggling with the weight of everything that’s happened, you probably also need to find a different attorney to handle the appeal. While your trial attorney may have done their best, a trial and an appeal are two vastly different processes. Here’s why it is usually wisest to look for new representation:
Appellate lawyers and trial lawyers often have different skills sets
It’s important to remember that an appeal is not the same thing as a retrial. The record is already set and, with few exceptions, new evidence is rarely going to be admitted. The appellate court is primarily concerned with the rule of law, not guilt or innocence. That means your representative must approach the situation with a different mindset.
A criminal trial is, without a doubt, partially about the evidence and partially about an attorney’s skill to craft an effective narrative and highlight important cracks in the prosecution’s case. It is an often emotional and somewhat theatrical process, especially when pleading their viewpoint to the jurors in opening and closing arguments
An appeal is a very different process. A litigator’s skill in a courtroom when emphasizing key pieces of evidence to the jury or eliciting information from witnesses in a way that helps their case won’t benefit them when they’re making an appeal to a panel of judges.
The vast majority of the appeal work is done in written form, so you need a representative who understands how to craft effective written arguments. They must also know how to navigate the rules of the appellate court, and which legal issues are most likely to attract the strongest attention from the judges.
Plus, there’s always the possibility that “ineffective counsel” may be raised as an issue on appeal, and your trial attorney would find it difficult to argue that their own representation was faulty.
If you hope to overcome a conviction on appeal, find out more about your legal options.