What can I do about my case after I've been convicted?

Appeal your conviction. You can appeal your conviction right after it happened through what's called the appellate process. This manner of review is called a "direct appeal." This process involves taking your case to a higher court than the trial court you were convicted in.

Appealing your conviction provides you with the opportunity to have a higher court review your case, to determine if there was in an error made-by the trial court, the prosecutor, or your attorney, that would cause your conviction to get reversed.

If you've been convicted in a state court for any offense, a juvenile, traffic, DUI, or criminal offense, your case can be appealed to the local State appellate Court. And then later to the Supreme Court of Ohio if necessary.

If your case is federal one, a direct appeal can be made to a federal appellate court that is higher than the district court that issued your conviction.

Please note: Call or email a Columbus, Ohio Appellate attorney as soon after you've been convicted to discuss your options. The time for filing an appeal is short!

What grounds exist for me, if I choose to appeal my conviction?

There are a myriad of grounds for available to you in a direct appeal. Some of these grounds include the following:

  • Evidence was improperly collected, stored, analyzed, or presented.
  • A sentence that is arbitrarily high, or that is contrary to law.
  • Witness testimony was improperly coerced or inadmissible for other reasons.
  • Improper jury instructions.
  • Jurors were selected unfairly, such as excluding all minorities from a jury for a case with a black defendant.
  • A judge ruled improperly on how the trial would be conducted, which may have denied you a right to a fair trial.
  • Insufficient evidence.
  • Ineffective assistance of trial counsel.

Can I hire a new lawyer to represent me on appeal?

Definitely. Hiring an attorney who is familiar with the appellate process can truly make all the difference. Ohio law actually encourages defendants to find a new attorney when pursuing an appeal against a conviction. If your legal representative allowed errors to occur during trial, you are well-advised to find a new lawyer who knows how to spot this errors, and argue them in the unique way in which appeals are argued.

Can I file a direct appeal even if I pleaded guilty at trial?

Yes, but pleading guilty does limit your grounds for appeal. For example, if you plead guilty, you cannot successfully appeal a decision made during a suppression hearing, if you had one.

How long do I have to file a direct appeal?

In Ohio, you must file a notice of appeal within 30 days of your conviction. Generally, this means you have a month after a judge issues a guilty verdict and pronounces a sentence.

If your case is federal, you generally have 14 days to file a notice of appeal.

Keep in mind that you can ask your current attorney to file a notice of appeal and then hire a new defense lawyer to conduct the full appeal.

What happens during the direct appeal process?

Appeals can sometimes take longer than you might have expected, and is a process very different than what you dealt with in the court in which you were charged.

Your lawyer will file briefs with the court. Briefs are written analyses of the errors that led to your unfair or unjust conviction. Many briefs will address points of objections the defense raised at trial. The prosecution will likewise submit a brief in response to the one your lawyer wrote.

After reviewing the briefs, the court may agree to hear oral arguments on your behalf, but the proceeding will not be another trial. No new evidence will be allowed, and no witnesses will be called.

What can happen with a direct appeal?

Winning on direct appeal can produce a variety of results. Here are just some: your conviction could be vacated; the appellate court could order a new trial; the appellate court could inform the trial court that certain evidence should have been suppressed, and order your conviction reversed on that basis; the appellate court could order the trial court to reduce your sentence.

Is filing a direct appeal my only option following an unjust or incorrect conviction?

No, but it is the first and best avenue to appeal a conviction. You could later appeal your conviction through a post-conviction relief process, or through federal review of your state conviction, such as when learning, for example, that there is new evidence in your case. You can read more about your rights to appeal a criminal conviction here.

Columbus, OH, direct appeals lawyer April Campbell can discuss all your options for contesting a state or federal conviction during a free consultation. Call her at (614) 356-8515 or reach out online.