If you were convicted of a crime in Oklahoma and want to file an appeal, contact the Law Offices of David L. Powell immediately. Errors can occur during any type of trial that leads to a wrongful conviction or unfair sentence. Even after an arrest and charge for a criminal offense, you have certain rights. Our Oklahoma criminal appeals attorneys will work to try to find a way to overturn your conviction.
Some circumstances allow defendants to appeal their sentences even if they entered a guilty plea. The complex nature of criminal cases often leads to mistakes and other complications during a trial that can result in an unfavorable outcome for the defendant. You should not face the consequences of the careless handling of the legal process by law enforcement, the prosecutor, or someone else.
The Law Offices of David L. Powell will tirelessly work to try to reach your desired result. We understand the fear and stress you feel while facing a prison sentence or another unjust punishment. We will use the resources at our disposal to file an appeal on your behalf and create a strategy to prove your case. This devastating experience does not have to ruin your future. Let us fight for your rights and freedom.
Call the Law Offices of David L. Powell at 479-222-6773 today for your initial consultation with one of our dedicated criminal appeals attorneys in Sallisaw, OK.
Types of Criminal Appeals
The type of appeal you can file will depend on whether your conviction resulted from a plea or trial and whether you had already pursued a direct appeal. The two main types of appeals in criminal cases are below.
A direct appeal happens when the trial concludes. This is the most common type of appeal convicted defendants pursue. Whether the conviction results from a bench or jury trial, you have a right to file an appeal with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
The goal of a direct appeal isn’t to challenge the determination of the defendant’s guilt based on the facts presented during trial. Instead, the appeal is a way to ensure no one violated the defendant’s rights during the trial and the process of reaching the verdict was fair.
Post-conviction relief is an appeal based on an alleged error during the original case. The defendant can pursue this type of appeal and reargue the same factors argued during the direct appeal. Typically, a post-conviction relief appeal occurs when new evidence arises or the conviction is illegal or unjust due to a constitutional violation.
An application for post-conviction relief is challenging. The defendant must file their appeal with the district court of the original conviction. Additionally, the original district judge will most likely be the same judge to review the appeal. These factors often make this process more complicated than filing a direct appeal.
Appealable Court Decisions in Oklahoma
Defendants in criminal cases have rights like any other citizen. You could face much harsher penalties and possibly an unfair conviction if you don’t seek legal representation during the trial.
Receiving a guilty verdict does not necessarily mean you have to face the sentence the judge imposes. Most people don’t realize they have the option to file an appeal. Additionally, even if you don’t think an error occurred during the trial, you could pursue an appeal if you don’t think your sentence matches the crime you committed.
You can submit various requests to the court when you file an appeal. However, you can’t appeal every decision the court makes. Decisions and orders the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) might review include:
- Writ of Mandamus for a conviction after a guilty plea
- Judgment against the defendant as a matter of right
- Municipality or State appeal
- Intermediate order or decision the court makes during the case’s progress
- Appeals by a juvenile offender
- Writs of Prohibition
- District Court order regarding the final disposition of a petition for judicial review by a prisoner
- Post-conviction relief application
- An application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
- A final judgment from the district court declaring an act of the State Legislature as unconstitutional
- Application for expungement
Grounds to Appeal a Sentence or Conviction in a Criminal Case
You must have grounds to file an appeal. Simply disagreeing with the decision or finding an error that doesn’t negatively impact the outcome of the case isn’t enough to pursue an appeal. The different grounds that qualify for an appeal are below.
A legal error must be more than a simple mistake. Sometimes, errors happen that do not affect the progress or outcome of a criminal case. However, a legal error can be an issue if it involves prejudice and directly influences a defendant’s conviction or sentencing.
Common types of legal errors include:
- Lack of substantial evidence to support a conviction
- Incorrect or improper jury instructions
- Errors in procedures
- Wrongfully excluded or admitted evidence
The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives criminal defendants the right to a fair and speedy trial. Additionally, defendants also have a right to a jury of their peers. Since most jurors have no legal knowledge or experience, they could purposely or accidentally act beyond their responsibilities as a chosen juror. This misconduct could lead to issues within the case, including the verdict.
Common examples of juror misconduct include:
- Talking about the case with other people, such as witnesses or journalists
- Researching information regarding the matter online or watching the news
- Failing to inform the court about relevant information during jury selection
- Performing an independent investigation of the crime
- Discussing elements of the case with other jury members before deliberations begin
As a defendant, you hope the prosecutor is fair and honest. Prosecutors are typically good people who believe in seeking the truth and justice during criminal proceedings. Unfortunately, some prosecutors don’t care about discovering what really happened. Instead, they want to obtain as many convictions as possible during their career to bolster their reputation.
Misconduct can occur if a prosecutor engages in actions meant to win the case rather than to discover the truth about the defendant’s involvement in the criminal offense. For example, a prosecutor might intentionally omit evidence that could exonerate the defendant or bribe a witness to provide false testimony to ensure a conviction.
Appealing a conviction or sentence could be accomplished by discovering new evidence. Maybe it wasn’t available or hadn’t been found during the initial investigation. It might be the key to proving a defendant’s innocence or showing the sentencing was unfair and unjust.
Another right a defendant has is the right to an attorney. Anyone facing criminal charges deserves a fair chance at defending themselves in court. Obtaining adequate representation isn’t as simple as hiring a lawyer. Sometimes, defense attorneys don’t do their jobs effectively. However, just because a defendant’s legal team doesn’t win the case doesn’t necessarily mean they did not perform to the best of their ability.
You must have proof of ineffective counsel to proceed with a criminal appeal. Specific circumstances could show that misconduct occurred. Those circumstances could include:
- Failure to investigate the case thoroughly
- Lack of preparations for interviewing or cross-examining witnesses
- Failure to object to unsubstantiated evidence
- Inadequate arguments against the prosecutor’s case
- Providing the defendant with unreasonable or improper legal advice
The Law Offices of David L. Powell can review your case and determine whether you have grounds for an appeal. Our Sallisaw criminal appeals attorneys will perform a complete investigation into your case to decide whether or not we can represent you.
Elements of a Successful Appeal
A common misconception about winning an appeal is that the defendant will immediately get released from prison. However, the appeals court doesn’t review evidence or try the case. Its job is to determine whether misconduct or errors resulted in an unfair conviction.
Once the appeals court finishes reviewing all the information, they will make a decision that could:
- Modify the lower court’s judgment or sentence
- Uphold the lower court’s ruling
- Review the lower court’s ruling
- Remand the case back to the lower court for resentencing or a new trial
When an appeal involves evidence of prejudicial errors, the appeals court will likely send the case back to the lower court for a new trial. However, that doesn’t mean the appeals court believes the defendant is innocent. It means evidence exists that there might not have been an impartial and fair trial.
Losing an appeal isn’t the end of a defendant’s legal options. It might be possible to reverse the conviction or sentence by filing for post-conviction relief. The petition can only include issues the direct appeal didn’t involve, such as:
- Lack of the court’s jurisdiction to impose a sentence
- Defendant’s wrongful incarceration beyond the end of the sentencing term
- Sentence or conviction violates the United States Constitution or Oklahoma Constitution
- The prison term is longer than the maximum sentence allowed by state law
- New evidence exists requiring a vacated conviction
At the Law Offices of David L. Powell, our legal team understands the uphill battle you face. Pursuing an appeal is a time-consuming and complex process. You don’t have to go through this alone. We will provide the dependable and aggressive representation you need. Our criminal appeals attorneys in Sallisaw, OK, will remain by your side until the end.
If you believe your sentence or conviction is unfair and unjust, call the Law Offices of David L. Powell at 479-222-6773 immediately to learn about your options for filing an appeal. We serve clients in four conveniently located offices in Oklahoma and Arkansas.