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How Can You Challenge A Federal Criminal Conviction?

April 1, 2022 Federal Criminal Attorneys

If you or a person close to you has been convicted of a federal crime, you might be interested to know what you can do to challenge that conviction. One of the main reasons why you would want to challenge the conviction is because you are convinced the trial judge(s) made the wrong decision or the jury made mistakes when arriving at the guilty decision. Other defendants will challenge the conviction because their own lawyers did not handle the case as they would have wanted. It is a constitutional right to the get right and effective legal counsel in a federal case. If the right of effective legal representation is in infringed, the defendant has the right to ask the court to overturn its earlier decision.

There are two ways through which a defendant can challenge a conviction in a federal court. The first one is a direct appeal and the second one is based on the ineffectiveness of the lawyer representing the defendant.

A direct appeal

A direct appeal is made through a notice of appeal within ten days after conviction. In a direct appeal, the defendant or trying to show the appellate court that the trial court made mistakes when making the conviction. It is the role of the defendant to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the judge or the jury did wrong. It is all about proving that what happened at the trial court did not follow the rule of law and therefore wasn’t right. The defendant must stick to proving that the trial court and the jury were wrong.


The other approach that the defendant might use to challenge a conviction is by applying the United States code 28 U.S.C. section 225. A petition made under section 2255 is one where the defendant agrees that they have been locked up, but the process involved in the conviction violated their rights. The defendant must prove that the violated rights involve a lack of effective legal representation. Section 2255 is, therefore, a channel through which a defendant can complain that his or her lawyer did not represent them effectively. If you lawyer willingly conducted poor investigations into the evidence adduced by the prosecution or was involved in malpractice, you might want to bring an appeal under section 2255.

It is important for the defendant to understand that when making an appeal under section 2255, it is a different case from making a direct appeal. In a direct appeal, you are attacking the trial court while for 2255, you are challenging the lawyer who represented you. It is prudent to first make a direct appeal before bringing up an appeal based on section 2255. It is up to the defendant to decide which one of the two they would like to challenge. Deciding on which one you would like to pursue will allow you to prepare sufficiently when facing the appellate court.

Federal appeals can be difficult to understand due to the complexity of the matter. It is therefore important to seek the services of a seasoned lawyer who understands how appeals are conducted to rectify the mistakes made at the trial court.

The defendant needs to understand that an appeal is not an opportunity to reopen the trial case. The role of the appeals court is to carry out legal proceedings that challenge the decision made by the trial court. In fact, most of the activities of the appeal process take place in writing. There are limited court hearings from both the defendant and the prosecution. The appellate courts do not receive new evidence about the trial case. Their job is to consider the legal arguments raised at the trial court and make a decision whether there was a proper interpretation of the law. It is a process which involves scrutinizing the information provided at the trial stage.

Another thing that defendants should understand is that there is a huge difference between a notice of appeal and a real appeal. After a notice of appeal has been filed, the defendant has 30 days to present the full case to the appellate judges. The defendant should not rush to hire a new lawyer within the ten days allowed by law to file a notice of appeal. It is just a brief notice that can be made even by a lesser qualified lawyer. However, before presenting full details of the appeal, a fully qualified lawyer should be hired to handle the case.

Why you need a federal criminal lawyer

At the point of telling a conviction, the defendant only has one chance to avoid jail time or to reduce the sentencing. It is, therefore, an important stage that should be taken with the seriousness it deserves. The defendant should hire a highly qualified lawyer who has a track record of engaging in appeal cases in the past and have successfully helped a good percentage of the defendants to get successful results.



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