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Grounds for a criminal appeal

Facing a criminal charge can be a challenging time for individuals in New York and elsewhere. Even more so, facing a criminal conviction can be life altering for criminal defendants. Enduring the consequences associated with a criminal charge does not only mean facing the penalties associated with the crime but also means facing the personal and professional consequences that can result. Even if an accused offender is convicted of a crime, the person should understand that this is likely not the end of their criminal defense options.

A criminal appeal is an available option for those who believe and can demonstrate to an appellate court that an error was made at the trial level. The error made, however, must have been substantial or material to the case. Harmless errors, or those considered unlikely to make a substantial impact on the result at the trial level, are not considered grounds for reversing the judgment made at a lower court.

Assuming that a material or substantial error was made, there are four basic grounds for a criminal appeal. The first is when the lower court made a serious error of law. This is known as plain error. The second is when the weight of the evidence does not support the verdict of the lower court. The third basis is when the lower court abused its discretion when making an errant ruling. Lastly, the fourth ground is the claim of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, which falls under the Sixth Amendment.

If a defendant believes that the person does have grounds for a criminal appeal, it is likely that a notice for an appeal will have to be made shortly following a ruling at the lower court. The criminal appeals process can be complex, and it is essential that defendants take steps to ensure the person's rights are protected. Therefore, it might be beneficial to seek guidance from a criminal attorney to better understand the criminal defense options available to an individual.

Source: Findlaw.com, "The Basis for a Criminal Appeal," accessed Sept. 25, 2016

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