What Are My Options Post-Conviction?
If you or someone close to you has been convicted of a crime, there are legal options available to you. A guilty verdict doesn’t have to be the final judgment of a case.
Right to Appeal
In the state of Texas, every person convicted of a crime has the right to appeal this decision. This right, however, is automatically waived for people who entered a plea agreement. But when a crime goes to trial, there is often the chance of an appeal.
Appeals are focused on the judge’s final ruling and are often made when there is:
- a contested matter requiring the court to rule in favor of one party;
- an objection that was overruled at the trial; and/or
- motion to suppress evidence (that was denied).
While a trial lawyer is focused on the facts of a case, a post-conviction attorney is focused on what the trial and jury did not do in terms of the law and how that may have affected the outcome of the trial.
The Appellate Process
The appellate process mostly takes place in written documents.
When a person begins the appeal process, their attorney will:
- create a record of the original trial proceedings
- identify any issues that could have contributed to the sentencing
- research the issues to determine the merit and chance these issues could win the appeal
- create an appellate brief explaining in detail why the conviction should be overturned
Once the brief is filed with the court, the opposing side responds with their own brief explaining why the ruling should stand.
The court will make its decision based on the facts submitted in the briefs. Sometimes attorneys representing both sides can make an oral argument.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
If the person seeking the appeal is denied by the court, they can submit a writ of habeas corpus. This document begins a separate legal proceeding from the appeal and is submitted to prove the defendant is held based on a violation to their constitutional rights.
The most common use of this document is to explain how the convict’s original attorney represented them ineffectively. For example, perhaps a person was assigned a state attorney who was disinterested in their case from start to finish. The convict could argue that this attorney didn’t strongly advocate their innocence.
Motion for a New Trial
An appeal of this type is the most difficult because there is a time limit for filing. In the state court, a motion for new trial must be filed within 30 days of the sentencing and in the federal court, a motion for a new trial must be filed within 14 days. However, if the motion is based on evidence that wasn’t available during the original trial, the defendant-appellant has 3 years from the date of discovery to file a motion for new trial.
Within this time period, the attorney must:
- investigate and prepare the motion to explain the grounds for overturning the conviction and/or plea; and
- gather any witnesses and additional evidence to present.
If the motion is granted, the case will revert to a pre-conviction state. If the motion is not granted, the case can be brought to the court of appeals again.
Aggressive Appeals Attorneys
At Labovitz Law Firm, our lawyers will do everything we can to advocate for your right to an appeal. We will work tirelessly with the court system until your case is heard again.
You don’t have to settle for your conviction! Call our firm today at (817) 374-4056 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.