Ched Evans, a Welsh football player born in the UK, was convicted of raping a 19-year-old woman in 2012. Now, four years later, the CCRC or Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the conviction to the Court of Appeals. Evans has won his appeal against his conviction, and will now face a new trial.
While the justice system may work differently in the UK, Michigan criminal appeals attorneys know that successfully appealing a conviction for rape, murder, or even larceny of drug offenses is extremely difficult – and often not possible.
An often lengthy and complicated process, the appeals process is one that if successful can “undo” a conviction. While a case ends when the defendant is found guilty, at this point it may be thought of as an “interval” in the criminal process as many go on to appeal the verdict to a higher court.
When appealing a conviction the defendant is generally referred to as the appellant. It’s important for a defendant to know prior to filing an appeal that the appeals court usually won’t listen to new witness testimony, or accept new evidence except under certain conditions. Essentially, the job of the appeals court judges is to decide issues of law. For example, the court may determine that evidence was allowed that should not have been. Judges may review whether the judge in the initial criminal case instructed the jury properly, or admitted proper evidence. They may also review the facts of the case to determine whether the defendant’s (appellant’s) rights may have been violated in some way.
What role does the defendant’s criminal defense lawyer play?
The defendant’s attorney, who may now be considered a criminal appeals attorney, generally files written briefs on behalf of the client which are arguments regarding specific areas of the initial trial. While these briefs are often very long, they may address specific parts of exhibit and trial transcripts, or prior court opinions and statutes presented to appellate judges as “authority” pieces. For example, an appeals lawyer may perform in-depth research in an effort to learn how other courts have decided legal issues of a similar nature, then apply the reasoning behind those prior decisions to the circumstances of his or her client’s case.
The order of things in most cases is that the appellant files an opening brief, the prosecution responds with his/her brief, and the appellant then files a brief replying to the respondent (prosecution’s) brief. Rarely do appellate judges hear oral arguments, however they may on occasion. After reading the briefs from all parties, the judges have usually come to a decision without the need for an oral argument.
It all sounds complicated, and it is. This is why anyone who has been wrongly convicted or who feels errors were made in the criminal process should work with a skilled and experienced Michigan criminal appeals attorney.
Grabel & Associates has successfully appealed convictions for a variety of offenses. Because our firm focuses solely on criminal defense, we have the thorough understanding of and experience with the appeals process essential to securing good results. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system sometimes fails, just as any other institution may fail. An appeal is for many people a second chance to “right a wrong” when found guilty of a crime they did not commit. To learn more or find out if you have another option, contact a dedicated Michigan criminal appeals lawyer with our firm.