Grounds For An Appeal

Grounds For An Appeal

Appellate Attorneys Near St. Louis | Appeal Lawyers

Common Grounds For An Appeal

Everyone makes mistakes—including judges and trial lawyers. That’s a big reason why the appeals process exists: to correct mistakes made by lower courts. Top-rated appeal attorney Nathan Swanson is highly experienced in appellate law. He knows the ins and outs of determining the best grounds for an appeal.

The 7 Most Common Grounds for an Appeal

Here are some of the most common reasons to appeal a case, and a brief description of each. But know that there are other errors of law and grounds for appeal beyond these common ones. Nathan Swanson is skilled to handle them all.

1. Improper exclusion or admission of evidence.

Before a trial, there is a hearing to determine which evidence will or won’t be allowed at trial. The prosecution and defense each bring in their own evidence. Each usually objects to the opposing side’s evidence. The judge ultimately decides which evidence to allow at trial. But at trial, if a judge mistakenly excludes proper evidence, or allows improper evidence and the opposition objects, then this could be presented as a legal error on appeal.

2. False arrest.

When law enforcement arrests someone without probable cause or a warrant (and the arrest doesn’t fall into an exception where a warrant is not required), then it is considered a false arrest. Also, if a faulty search warrant led to an arrest, then that also may be grounds for an appeal.

3. Incorrect jury instructions.

Jury instructions are how a judge advises the jury of the laws applicable to the case. This usually happens at the end of a trial. But if a judge fails to inform the jury of the correct application of the law, or fails to include all applicable laws for a verdict, then these are incorrect jury instructions and potential grounds for an appeal.

4. Ineffective assistance of counsel.

If a defense attorney did a very poor job of representing a client, so much so that it falls below the expected standard of competence, then that qualifies as ineffective assistance of counsel. For instance, if an alibi witness could be crucial to the defense, and the defense attorney does not call that witness to the stand, then that could be ineffective assistance of counsel. Other examples include failing to object to improper evidence, missing court hearings or motion deadlines, falling asleep in court, or abusing drugs or alcohol during trial.

5. Sentencing errors.

There are many factors that go into how a defendant is sentenced, including prior offenses, and the type and number of concurrent crimes of which the defendant is convicted. Depending on these factors, judges must follow different rules in sentencing—such as delivering consecutive or concurrent sentences. If, for example, a judge sentences a defendant consecutively when he should have imposed concurrent sentences, then this may be grounds for an appeal.

6. Insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict.

For a criminal conviction, there must be enough evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If a jury convicts without sufficient evidence, then the jury may have based its decision on prejudice or emotion, though this is very hard to prove.

7. Prosecutorial misconduct.

As a part of law enforcement, a district attorney (DA) should always uphold justice. But prosecutors may sometimes do unethical things, such as commenting on inadmissible evidence, purposely misstating the law, or appealing to a jury’s emotions or prejudices. Worst of all, prosecutors and police officers sometimes suppress or hide evidence that would benefit the defendant.

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