By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Appealing a conviction in Texas can be difficult, but it’s not impossible.
Criminal trials are extremely complex and if the judge, prosecutor, or even your own lawyer have made mistakes — a conviction can potentially be over-turned by the Texas appeals courts. While an appeal can often represent a great hope — you should know that statistically the odds are long at having a case overturned. That being said — convictions are over-turned all the time.
The most important thing to remember with an appeal is time is critical. Some issues can be appealed months and even years after a conviction — but the vast majority of appeals MUST BE FILED WITHIN 30 DAYS of the judgment under the Texas Rules of Appellate procedure. Also, sometimes a motion for new trial can be granted and the trial judge can allow a re-trial of the case under some circumstances if you act quickly enough. Unlike a fine bottle of aged wine — appeals get worse as they get older.
When a conviction is being appealed — what is typically getting called into question are the balls and strikes a judge called at trial. Sometimes, but rarely, a prosecutor’s conduct or the conduct of your own trial lawyer may be addressed. Practically never is something the jury did subject of a successful appeal. The reason is that the judge decides “questions of law” and the jury decides “questions of fact.”
Common grounds for appeals are:
Did the judge allow someone to serve on the jury that shouldn’t have been there?
Did the judge allow the prosecutor to go too far in arguing to the jury?
Did the judge improperly admit evidence the jury should’t have been allowed to see?
Did he not let the accused admit evidence he should have let in?
Did he give the right instructions to the jury?
There are dozens of areas which can be grounds for appeals. Doing an appeal without a lawyer is extremely difficult. There are tons of legal tripwires designed to toss out appeals before they even get to be seen by an appeals judge. Get a lawyer if you’re considering an appeal.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article should be considered as legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice about a specific situation, you should consult an attorney directly.