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Overturning a Guilty Verdict in a Federal Criminal Appeal

October 11, 2021

Can a Verdict Be Overturned?

After a jury decides that you are “not guilty,” the prosecution will not be entitled to appeal your acquittal. Because the Fifth Amendment of The Constitution protects you against being tried for the same crime twice, your case will be over forever after you hear the words “not guilty.” This is known as the “Double Jeopardy rule.”

The answer to this question will be different if the jury decides that you are “guilty.” If this occurs, your case does not have to be over if you believe that the jury or the judge made errors during your trial. You have the option of filing a motion asking the judge to overturn the jury’s verdict. In this case, the judge would enter a verdict of “not guilty.” You may also ask the judge to set the jury’s verdict aside so that you can receive a new trial. The last option would be to appeal the conviction.

The U.S. Court of Appeals

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States of America. The U.S. Courts of Appeals sit below the Supreme Court. The judiciary system has 13 Courts of Appeals. There are also 94 federal judicial districts, and they are divided into 12 regional circuits. There is a court of appeals in each circuit, and each one has three judges, but they do not have a jury.

If the jury found you guilty in your federal trial, you are entitled to appeal the verdict to the U.S. Court of Appeals. When you present your case to the U.S. Court of Appeals, your attorney will not try your case again, so it will not be the time to introduce new evidence, and new witnesses will not be able to testify. A jury will not decide the case, but the judges will review the decisions that the jury made and the procedures that the judge followed to determine whether or not the law was applied correctly and the proceedings were fair.

Do You Have the Right to Appeal?

You have the right to appeal your guilty verdict if you are concerned about the way the law was applied during your case. You may disagree with the particular law that was applied or anything that occurred during the trial.

Do You Have Grounds to Make an Appeal?

The most common ground for appeal is the belief that the trial was unfair to the defendant. It may also be because the losing side believes that the judge applied the wrong law in the case. You may also believe that the judge applied the law incorrectly. Some people have charged that the law that the judge applied violated The U.S. Constitution.

Making an Appellate Argument

The side asking for the appeal is known as the “petitioner,” and the side that responds to the request is known as the “respondent.” Both sides have the opportunity to prepare a brief or a written argument that supports each side’s case. The entire case may be decided on these briefs. If not, the petitioner and the respondent will prepare to argue before the court.

The Oral Argument

The process begins when the appellate lawyers take their places before the panel of judges. They will limit their discussion to the legal principles that the petitioner outlined in his or her brief and are currently in dispute. Both the petitioner and the respondent have 15 minutes to present their cases to the judges. Several weeks or months could pass before both sides hear that the panel of judges reversed the conviction or upheld the conviction. Either way, the appellate court will offer a written decision.

In the event that the appellate court upholds the trial court’s decision, you can appeal this decision as well, but the higher court will make the decision as to whether or not it will hear your case.

Errors Committed during the Trial

You must be aware of the fact that the judge or the jury may make errors, but not every one of these errors can lead to overturning your verdict. Your trial is required to be fair, but it does not have to be devoid of errors. A conviction is likely to be reversed if the legal error that was committed contributed to the jury deciding that you are guilty. Errors that deprive you of your constitutional rights are usually the type of errors that warrant a reversal.

Contact a criminal defense law firm if you believe that you have a case for overturning your verdict



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