Understanding Criminal Appeals

In Florida, you can file a criminal appeal if you believe you were wrongfully convicted. However, the process can be complex and time-consuming. The higher court will review the lower court's decision for legal errors and will not retry the case or consider new evidence. To file an appeal, you must file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the final judgment or order and seek the assistance of an experienced criminal appeals attorney. The appellate court will review the record of the lower court proceedings and may schedule oral arguments.

There are two types of criminal appeals in Florida: direct appeals and collateral appeals.

Direct Appeals

Direct appeals are the most common type of criminal appeal in Florida. A direct appeal is when you appeal your conviction directly to the Florida District Court of Appeal. This type of appeal is limited to issues raised and ruled on during your trial.

During a direct appeal, the appellate court will review the trial court's decisions for errors. The appellate court will either affirm or reverse the trial court's decision. If the appellate court reverses the trial court's decision, the case may be sent back to the trial court for a new trial or other proceedings.

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Collateral Appeals

Collateral appeals are a type of appeal that is not related to the direct appeal process. These appeals are filed after the direct appeal process has concluded, under a different set of rules and procedures than direct appeals.

Collateral appeals challenge issues not raised or ruled on during the direct appeal process. Examples of such problems can include:

  • Ineffective assistance of counsel
  • Newly discovered evidence
  • Other issues that were not known at the time of trial

The trial court, where the original case was heard, will review the issues raised in the collateral appeal and determine if there is a basis for relief. If the trial court grants relief, the case may be returned to the appellate or trial court for further proceedings.

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The Appeal Process in Florida

To appeal your conviction, the first step is to file a notice of appeal with the court within 30 days of your conviction. This formal document notifies the court and the prosecution you intend to appeal. Once you've filed the notice, the court will prepare a record of your trial proceedings, including transcripts of all testimony, exhibits, and evidence presented during your trial. You and your attorney will review this record and identify any errors or issues that warrant an appeal.

Next, your attorney must write a brief outlining the grounds for your appeal and submit it to the court within a specific timeframe, usually 30 days after completing the trial record. The brief should clearly and concisely explain the legal errors or issues you believe occurred during your trial.

The court may then schedule an oral argument, during which you and your attorney can present your case to a panel of judges. The judges may ask questions and seek clarification on certain points. After the oral argument, the judges will review the brief and the trial record and decide on your appeal.

Grounds for Criminal Appeals in Florida

Grounds for criminal appeals in Florida include:

Legal Error

An error in the application of the law during the trial. This can include errors in jury instructions, improper admission or exclusion of evidence, or errors in sentencing. To appeal on the grounds of legal error, you must show that the error was significant enough to have affected the trial's outcome.

Insufficient Evidence

There is not enough evidence to support a conviction. To appeal on the grounds of insufficient evidence, you must show that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutorial Misconduct

 The prosecutor engages in behavior that is unethical or illegal. This can include withholding evidence, making improper statements to the jury, or using evidence obtained illegally. You must show that the misconduct affected the trial's outcome to appeal on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.

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Possible Outcomes of Criminal Appeals

When appealing a criminal conviction in Florida, several possible outcomes can occur:

  • A reversal, in which the conviction is overturned, and the defendant is cleared of all charges
  • If the appellate court finds errors in the trial process but not enough to warrant a reversal, the case may be sent back to the trial court for a new trial, resentencing, or other proceedings
  • Affirmation, meaning the appellate court agrees with the lower court's decision and upholds the conviction
  • Modification, such as reducing the sentence, changing the charges, or altering the conditions of probation or parole
  • If the charges were brought improperly, the case may be dismissed—the charges are dropped, and the defendant is free from any further legal action related to the case

Our Exceptional Criminal Defense Attorneys are Ready to Appeal Your Conviction

At Carlson Meissner & Hayslett, we pride ourselves on going beyond the ordinary to offer our clients unparalleled legal services. Situated on the west coast of Florida, we stand out as the only law firm with a specialized appellate section dedicated to writing appeals for our esteemed clients. And this isn’t limited to just a specific jurisdiction - we cover every court in Florida.

This unique offering is deeply rooted in our belief that the intricacies of the appeals process require an exclusive focus. When you choose to work with us, you can have Thomas McLaughlin, our dedicated appellate lawyer, on your side. With a rich background as an appellate staff attorney for the Sixth Judicial Circuit and extensive experience writing appeals for circuit court judges in Pinellas County, Mr. McLaughlin’s expertise is second to none.

But what truly sets us apart is the collective strength of our team. Our accomplished criminal appeals lawyers in Florida possess a profound understanding of Florida's criminal justice system, ensuring that every aspect of your case, from initial defense to the appeals process, is handled with precision, dedication, and a commitment to justice. If you believe that your case was mishandled or that your rights were infringed upon, having a team with a track record of success and specialization behind you is essential.

With Carlson Meissner Hayslett, you aren’t just getting a lawyer; you’re gaining a team of specialists dedicated to every facet of your legal journey. We're committed to guiding you, defending you, and ensuring that this challenging phase in your life transforms into an opportunity for justice and vindication. Contact us today at (727) 306-0273 or reach out online to schedule a comprehensive consultation and let our dedicated appellate section make a difference in your appeal.

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